Saturday, June 24, 2006

What Do You Think?

Something keeps bugging me. Do you ever have that? There is more than this, but here it is. A few years ago, our church published a book entitled Thou Shalt Keep Them, which is a Biblical theology of the perfect preservation of Scripture. I graduated from Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Watertown, Wisconsin. I wanted to let all of the graduates know about the book.

I was in Watertown from 1973 to 1987. Maranatha started in 1968, so I lived there through a good chunk of its history. I want to ensure you that I wasn’t in college that entire time. My family moved from Indiana the summer after my sixth grade year for my dad to attend college. By the time I left, I was one of the few, if not only, graduates who graduated from Calvary Baptist Christian School, Maranatha Baptist Academy (2nd in my class), the college (3rd in my class), then with an M.A. and M. Div. from the graduate school. Not only that, but I was president of my senior class in high school, president of my freshman and sophomore class in college, vice president then president of the student body my jr. and sr. years, and finally president of the graduate school student body. My junior year the faculty awarded me Mr. Maranatha. I lettered four years in football, basketball, and track. I won the preaching contest and the award for top Greek student my senior year. I was on the adminstrative cabinet my last year of graduate school as the student activity director. Anyone who was there at that time will remember that year of student activities. My dad, sister, and brother also graduated from Maranatha. My mother for several years was in charge of the employees in the dining hall. I could give much more, and I’m not attempting to pump myself up, but to say that I have quite a Maranatha heritage. It would be no wonder that I would want to let the Maranatha alumni know that I had written a book. As far as I knew, no other Maranatha graduate had written a book.

On the Maranatha (MBBC) website was a free alumni email list so that the graduates could write the graduates. I guess I could have sent everyone a personal letter, but I decided to send them all the same notice of the book. I learned my position on preservation at Maranatha. When I was a senior in high school, Maranatha had the very first Dean Burgon Society meeting with Dr. Donald Waite and Dr. David Otis Fuller. Two of the faculty, Dr. Strouse and Dr. Hollowood, were on the board of the society. Maranatha herself published two books in its history, the first a two volume set of Armitage’s History of Baptists, and the second a little green and yellow paperback that was a comparison of the King James Version with the modern versions, Evaluating of NT Versions, by Everett Fowler, of which Dr. Cedarholm wrote a strong TR/MT introduction. So on the top of my email notice, I wrote something like: "Takes the Same Position as the Founder."

My only purpose was to let graduates know. Did I want to sell books? Yes. Our church had put quite a bit of money into the printing costs, and I wanted us to be able to get it back. I felt responsible to do so, since I had led in this project. Personally, I have not made a cent from either of the two books that I have written. Our church has received every cent of profit, which hasn’t been that much. We also don’t have a marketing machine to let people know about the books. However, when I sent this news to our graduates, it created a huge firestorm that I truly was not expecting. That little phrase at the top sent them ballistic.

So is this what still bugs me? No. What bugs me is that I am being accused of doing something at the least unethical and at the most illegal because I used that email list to send report of the book. Everyone on the other side calls it an "advertisement." The email list was voluntary. The list was for graduates. The common refrain was that I SPAMMED the alumni with an advertisement. Know this. For years, I got regular unsolicited mail requesting money as well as persistent unsolicited emails from MBBC also asking for funds. I never complained about these. Maranatha had a public and private email list. Everyone on the public list was allowing his name and address. Would you see that as inviting email from a fellow graduate? I would. I wanted my name on the list so that other graduates could send me things. I sent one heads-up about my book, and I am attacked for this.

Mike Sproul in his book, without ever checking with me about the veracity of the story, reports this in a footnote on page 149: "Ironically, the e-mail that advertised this book (sent uninvited to multiple members of this author’s church) to promote it among the Maranatha Baptist Bible College alumni purports this book as representing the theology of a man, Dr. B. Myron Cedarholm, the late founder of the college. According to this citation, Brandenburg does not believe what any one else ever taught is important, but then in the "press release" attempts to attach himself to Cedarholm." I don’t have to attempt to attach myself to Dr. Cedarholm. I am attached to him. I have several personal notes from him in my collection. I sat next to him on administrative cabinet and with another cabinet member voted together with him on most issues in opposition to things that were being voted at that time. I had several one-on-one personal conversations with him. My friend and colleague, Dr. Thomas Strouse, also testifies that he got his TR position from Dr. Cedarholm. Many others tell me the same thing.
Sproul and others try to smear me with certain words like "advertised," "uninvited," and "press release." Interestingly enough, Mike Sproul himself has sent me at least a dozen uninvited emails through the years. I didn’t care if he did, but he did. He skews my motive by saying that I sent it to his church members uninvited as if I was targeting his church members. I sent it to MBBC graduates, wherever they may be. He also twists me into attempting to look to Dr. Cedarholm’s name in order to elevate the credibility of the book. My motive was to identify the position of the book with a particular era in Maranatha history. Graduates of the Cedarholm era would be piqued in curiosity. That was the entire point.

As a result of the firestorm and then this quote in his book, one young graduate of Maranatha who is heavily promoted on Sharper Iron will not allow me to comment on his blog. He says that I need to apologize for spamming the Maranatha alumni before he gives me permission. I won’t miss commenting on his blog, but the issue hangs out there even though I believe I am innocent of any wrongdoing. However, I want to know what you think. Do you think that I have sinned and need to repent of something here? Or is Sproul guilty of something here? What do you think is actually happening in this situation? My conscience is clear, but this keeps being mentioned. People aren’t forgetting it. Should I be concerned about this?

What do you think?


Bill H. said...

Since you solicited my thoughts: I think you did wise in providing the truth behind your motive in this blog format. Not only did you do this, but in the process you clearly demonstrated your close relationship to Dr. Cedarholm and you showed how he was a defender of the TR/MT position. My only suggestion (and I don't know if you have done this already, and this is only a suggestion) is to send a copy of this article to the alumni email list to ensure that they know that the accusations against you are 'baseless' and if they have any questions on this matter to come to you about it.

On this blog post...I did not know that the very first Dean Burgon Society meeting happened at Maranatha. I have heard that Maranatha stood for the KJV, among other things, in the past, but I did not know specifically how. WOW.

Jerry Bouey said...

If it is within your power to clear your name, do so - but don't fret about it. Trust God to vindicate you in His time. God bless.

1 Peter 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Psalms 37:5-6 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

Don said...

Hi Kent, generally, it is considered poor netiquette to send an 'e-mail broadcast' promoting some commercial (or quasi-commercial) enterprise. There are varying definitions of spam as well as a technically worded legal definition (which I can't recall exactly!!). I think that you may have been guilty of a breach of etiquette, but mostly your complainants disagree with your position, hence the outrage. (And I might also disagree... but that's beside the point.)

However, I find it tremendously ironic for Mike Sproul to be taking umbrage at your alleged spam. I wrote him once about some booklets they publish by Dr. Singleton and ever since I have been receiving a barrage of articles that Mike thinks are interesting. If you are guilty of being a spammer (and you might be), Mike is a spammer extraordinaire!

So... what should you do? You might consider apologizing for a breach of etiquette. I don't think you are technically guilty of "spamming" but you may have committed a minor 'faux pas' as they say.


Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Derek Makri said...

Is it possible that if it were any other book there would not have been a firestorm? It seems that the reason for the strong opposition is because it is a TR book. I also have been greatly bothered by how angry those against the KJV get at those who are for it. They seem to be the angry ones now. I am not a KJV only guy like the Ruckmanites, but I believe in the preservation teaching. I do not get angry at those who do not see it that way, but any time I have posted on SI, etc. about the issue I get severely attacked. That bothers me in how angry and mean they become. To me that is the reason for the firestorm.

Cathy McNabb said...

Pastor Brandenburg, IMHO I don't see where you did anything wrong. I think it is just a ploy to tarnish a good name.

BTW, I did something similiar, I found Pastor Mallinak email from the Fairhaven website. He was the first person I contacted, when I finally was determined to go back to church.

Anonymous said...

Its Josh Kirby but i can never remember my password to get on my account here. I agree mostly with what Don said in his post. You may be guilty of a breach of etiquette. However i believe that it is the subject of the book that has generated such a "firestrom". If the book had been something like Rick Warrens Purpose Driven Life they most likely would have ignored it and went about there day. Seems like a silly thing to get excited about. Havent they ever heard of the delete button? I wise man once told me....dont sweat the small stuff. This is defenitely small stuff.

Michael McNeilly said...

It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong. It is like all the telemarket calls that everyone gets. You have to call and be on a no call list. If it is a public list then it is free game. They must not agree with the book if they are straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. I get sick of people wanting everyone to go around apologizing because their feelings were stepped on.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. I do mean that in a non-robotic way. I am only bugged, not bogged down in blog sludge.

Caleb said...


It sounds like Mr. Sproul is making a big deal out of something we all think is minor, but his perception of what happened is his reality. Whether or not you were right isn't the point. I actually think you were well within your bounds to send the email. But sometimes being right isn't enough. If you have offended a brother then you should try and reconcile with him. Mr. Sproul and his lot didn't follow Matthew 18 but maybe you could be the "bigger man" and try to reconcile with him and in doing so "gain a brother." I realize you both differ on the versions issue, but it's possible that you won't be able to get onto that until this is resolved. My esteemed colleague from Ohio said a wise man told him "don't sweat the small stuff." Well, a wiser man once told me "the small stuff, there's nothing bigger." Anyway, maybe Im just a big nambie pambie compromiser but arent we supposed to be in "the ministry of reconciliation?" I think that verse is talking about our ministry of being ambassadors to the world, but how can we be ambassadors to the world if things like are allowed to fester? I leave you with this: Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Your bro,

Terry McGovern said...


I personally think the reason for the "email issue" is becasue of the book itself. Ask yourself if this would be an issue had your book been in agreement with Mike Sprouls view of the scripture? No way! IMHO

Would you be "banned" from commenting on this other blog had the book been in agreement with the bloggers position? I doubt it!

This textual debate really stirs things up. It should! There is to much at stake. I appreciate your stand.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kent Brandenburg said...

I have no problem admitting a social faux pax or a breach in etiquette at worst. Thanks for your contributions everyone. I agree that this is happening because of the content of the book. I did get one comment that said I should rename my blog to "I'm an Insensitive....." I didn't include it, even though it was amusing.

Ruth said...

I have read your blog post, again since the first time was mostly a "scan it briefly" thing. There are a number of things that leap at me, if you will.

First is the nature of the book (Yes, I have read it). It is set up to be targeted by others; it's the nature of the beast. The age old "don't rock my boat" theory.

Second, it's a mixed echo of " am I right or am I wrong" question followed by "my conscience is clear". Confusings statements.Leaves you wondering how innocent YOU think you are?

Third, I don't quite get the connection of your own long personal accomplishments, the book, using the list to "spam" alumni with (your words not mine).

My point being, IF your conscience is clear as you say, why worry about not being able to post on someones blog? If the money goes to your church that's all that is important.

I got all my copies from Amazon, gave some as gifts. Most of the people never quite understood the book, so there are now some copies in the local library. I doubt that it hurt your sales any. I also doubt they leave the library very often. But, then again not big readers up here...

Blessings from the Hill,

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Ruth. My conscience was clear, but I thought subjecting what I did could help someone else, and also find out how unethical it was. I was also hoping...smiles....some of them would read the blog and see what you folks said.

I'm glad you got the book Ruth. Each chapter is a kind of separate unit. Some are easier than others, as you could see, but it isn't a novel obviously. Someone will want to know about the subject to read it. Have a good Lord's day.

reglerjoe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
reglerjoe said...


Not sure if my opinion really matters, but I don't see how you did anything wrong.

Being an alumnus of a college puts you on several mailing lists. Though I wouldn't consider your e-mail "spam", I would rather receive your "spam" than the tons of junk mail I get at my church from alumni churches inviting me to every conference, revival, special speaker event, luncheon, ladies' conference, gospel singing jubilee, missions conference, youth conference, ad nauseam.

Anyways, I don't see what the problem is.

tony said...

I remember when North Bay merged with Bethel Baptist and people said all sorts of nasty things about you. You told my family and I to wait on THE Lord to take care of things. HE did then and He will do it now. We pray for you everyday. Sorry we weren't able to see you on the way to Frank's Air Force base. Frank is in Iraq now until November. I am so glad we finally found your blog.

WE love you.... Ruckel family.