My church, Fourth Baptist Church, is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary, and one of the things our seminary has done to help us celebrate is give out a former pastor's (R.V. Clearwaters) autobiography. Although he retired 25 years ago now, his ministry still affects virtually everything we do--mostly for the good.
One of the most interesting things he did in his career did not involve the pulpit, but rather the bar--no, not the kind that served Hamm's, but the legal bar. It appears that many of the Baptist churches in the upper midwest, as well as at least one Bible college, owe their liberty to preach God's Word to Dr. Clearwaters.
It's worth noting how he did it; as the defendant as the American Baptists tried to take properties from theological conservatives, he had a "two-step" defense.
1. "Do you have the deed?" (the answer was always no)
2. "Have you read the American Baptist articles of association?"
...and with that, the argument was more or less over. The articles to which he referred did not grant perpetual property to the association. Dr. Clearwaters preserved the properties of theological conservatives--saving them years of investment and struggle--by reminding those who would deprive them of those properties of the very principles they were founded under.
It's worth remembering today. God calls us to peace as much as depends upon us, but we ought not forget that an enduring peace often follows a moment of conflict for principle. Thank you, Lord, for Doc Clearwaters.
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