Dr. Rolland McCune has continued commenting at Sharper Iron (SI). I want to make excerpts of what he is sharing available to readers here, many of whom do not and would not visit or participate at SI. We began with his initial comment, which you can read at Kevin Bauder’s “Kinder-Gentler Motif…Will Not Carry the Day.”* Please now consider the following by Dr. McCune as he remembers “Doc” Clearwaters.
I trust those remarks have been encouraging to those who appreciate what the best of Fundamentalism has been, can be and still looks like.One last thought/clarification (I trust). From my 14 years of association with R. V. Clearwaters he and I never had a cross word between us, and I left for DBTS with his disappointment, but none the less his “blessing.” We were especially close during my last six or seven years. I participated in his funeral in 1996 and unashamedly wept as I hugged his daughter Jane farewell as we left Crystal Lake Cemetery.
Doc, as a good leader, prudently chose his hills to die on based on several non-negotiable biblical truths and convictions. But in a showdown when these were being challenged, trampled, disobeyed, avoided or neglected, he was militantly aggressive. This earned him a lot of unwanted and unearned opprobrium over the decades, actually to this very day. Some of the opponents mused out loud that they hoped for the day they would see RVC in his casket. Fortunately he outlived most of them.
Included in his non-negotiable truths was the primacy of the New Testament local church. Thus he opposed the movement that tried to hijack the New Testament Association of Independent Baptist Churches (NTAIBC) from an association of churches to a pastor's fellowship (at Eagledale Baptist Church, Indianapolis, 1966) contrary to the minutes of the call to form an association (passed at Beth Eden Baptist, Denver) one year earlier. The NTAIBC became an association of churches. He also opposed self-perpetuating boards of Baptist institutions who generally wanted him and Fourth Baptist to “pray and pay, but not to play.” This was the case in the formation of the Baptist World Mission** in the 1960s. On the grounds of local church ideology/doctrine he expected first loyalty to Fourth Baptist by paid servants of a Baptist institution whose membership was at Fourth, rather than their first loyalty elsewhere. The same went for paid servants of Central Baptist Seminary, church staff, the Christian school, custodians, et al, as well as all the membership in general. He was loyal to people and he expected the same from them. It was not “my way or the hi-way.” These incidents all became controversial to the point of public resolution with him being blamed in one way or another for the disturbance, usually on ecclesiastically political or pietistic notions.
The local church rubric caused Doc to vigorously oppose interdenominationalism, especially after its failure to sustain Northwestern Schools in the late 1950s when it’s Bible College and Seminary closed down, leading to the founding of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College and Central Baptist Seminary as Baptist, not interdenominational, schools. He was on the board of Northwestern and a confidant of W. B. Riley, and went through the rough waters after Riley’s death.
Ecclesiastical separation was a non-negotiable, both “primary” and “secondary.” Thus Doc participated heavily in the fight within the old Northern Baptist Convention against liberalism, and within the Minnesota Baptist Convention/Association and the Conservative Baptist Association of America against New Evangelicalism. In these controversies, Fourth Baptist Church and the MBA “kept the faith and the furniture.” But of course, RVC took heat for not being loving, kind, gentle and Christ-like when push came to shove and straight talk finally took precedence over quiet, emotional, pietistic diplomatic discussions.
RVC’s style of church administration was summed up in two words, as he constantly told the Seminary students—“through channels.” Anything major that affected Fourth church was first taken to the deacons, after that to the “official family” (composed of all people elected by the church), and finally to the floor of the church. This happened on many occasions while I was there.
Other of RVC’s leadership principles included “take the historical approach,” giving him an uncanny insight to people and proposals that came along. His ability to size up a situation and know of the right, or a good, solution was amazing. He relied heavily on “documents” when in battle, pulling out minutes, resolutions, etc, because “documents don’t lie.” This happened when he was contradicted, whether in court fighting to retain the MBA’s control of Pillsbury Academy or as an expert witness on Baptist polity in suits to prevent the Northern Baptist Convention from stealing the property of churches who voted to withdraw from it, or simply during the formation of a new association.
This has droned on far more than intended, typical of the “few minutes” that Baptist preachers promise to audiences. I did not take space for anecdotes of his life as a pastor, friend, counselor, family man, and others. There his kind and gentle side always showed, whether for a student finding a job, those needing food and raiment, a pastor looking for a church, or churches looking pastors. For funerals he would ask for the Bible and “life verse” of the deceased and conduct a very meaningful service. He was willing to be called back from his annual vacation in Florida (in February/March usually, naturally) for emergencies.
I hope that these vignettes put the man in a better light than is too often forgotten or ignored.__________________Rolland D. McCune
*Kevin Bauder’s “Kinder-Gentler Motif…Will Not Carry the Day.”
**In October Baptist World Mission celebrated its 50th anniversary at the church where it was founded, Marquette Manor Baptist Church.
SI Administrator, Jim Peet, posted a particular comment in the thread. Dr. McCune rebuked him for it. For example,
“If this is any kind of resemblance to the apparently newly discovered and coveted kind and gentle fundamentalism, you have discredited them and embarrassed yourself.”Go to Jim Peet in the Jaws of the Lion