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?