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Dr. Charles Crane

When Dr Crane became aware of this web page, he called to suggest that I should remove information about his education and background. He was cordial and I would guess that he is a fine Christian gentleman. Mr. Stephen Campbell who is also a graduate of Lincoln Christian College and Seminary wrote to say, "I've known Dr. Crane for better than 20 years. He has always shown himself to be a man of integrity, scholarship, and honesty." What little association I have had with Dr. Crane would seem to support that Dr. Crane has integrity and is an honest man. I do not intend on this page in anyway to impugn the character and integrity of Dr. Crane. The only cloud that remains is the stature of the institutions where he received his education. He sent me a rebuttal and I have tried to incorporate the information which he provided. However, I have not completely removed the previous information, because his credentials are essential to the status of his statements in The God Makers movie.

In The God Makers movie, Dr. Crane made serious attacks on the validity of sacred Mormon scripture. The foundation of his attacks rests primarily on his qualifications as a judge of American archaeology and his expertise in textural criticism of the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price. Dr. Crane was introduced as an "expert in Mormon archaeology." He says, "I was shocked to be listed as an expert in Mormon archaeology. How can I be an expert in the nonexistent? I have said for twenty years that no one could be an expert in Mormon archaeology." He goes on to say that, "The comments I made in the God Makers movie are true beyond refutation." We will see that this statement is false.

Dr. Crane said: "As we look at the Book of Mormon, we find an entirely different story. Instead of being a record of actual fact, I have looked over maps, checked archaeological information, And I still am left to wonder, where is the land of Zarahemla, where is the valley of Nimrod, where are the plains of Nephihah. I have been unable to find a record of even one city as mentioned in the Book of Mormon."

Hugh Nibley has explained part of this problem, "In the center of every great Epic poem looms a mighty fortress and city, yet how few of these have ever been located! Schliemann thought he had found Troy, but, as every schoolboy knows, he was wrong. He thought he had found the tomb of Priam and the Treasury of Atreus--wrong again! What he did discover was a type of civilization that Homer talked about, but to this day Hissarlik is still referred to as "the presumed site of Troy." We have no description of any Book of Mormon city to compare with Homer's description of Troy. How shall we recognize a Nephite city when we find it? The most we can hope for are general indications of a Book of Mormon type of civilization--anything more specific than that we have no right to expect. From reliable Egyptian lists we know of scores of cities in Palestine whose very existence the archaeologist would never suspect". (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.6, Appendix, p.438 - p.439)

In the movie Dr Crane says, "What do we find when we look at the Book of Mormon? In Alma 11th chapter, verses 5 through 19 is a listing of the coinage of the period of time that was used by these people. It lists the senine of gold, the seon of gold, the shun of gold. They had lesser coins. The shiblon, the shiblum, the leah. Need it be said at this point that not one of these coins has ever been found."

Actually Dr. Crane oversteps the bounds of what the text allows. These verses never call these coins it says they are used for a measure. Anyway this is a real red herring. If we found gold coins or measuring pieces, there would be no indications of the names by which they were identified. We don't have a culture or language in the American continents that has been continuous to our day. The ruins are clear that whole civilizations have disappeared. To be talking about coins and the names of coins would seem to imply that stronger criticisms are not available. Also, there is a measuring system that is used by the natives in Guatemala that seemed to be derived from this same system.

Then Dr. Crane gives us the benefit of his wisdom and learning. "I am led to believe from my research that this is not an actual story, but is a fairy tale much like Alice in Wonderland."

This completely overlooks a significant amount of information that shows that the Book of Mormon is not a product of the 19th century. It's contents are consistent with it's claim as an ancient record. I am sure Dr. Crane feels that he gave good support for this belief in his two hour interview. But the producers didn't feel it was necessary to include them in the final production. All we really have is just Dr. Crane's opinion. Now for that opinion to be credible we must examine his credentials.

The other comments made in the film by Dr. Crane: "One of the Mormon church's standard works of scripture is called: The Pearl of Great Price. In this is the Book of Abraham. That Joseph Smith claimed was translated from some papyrus fragments that he purchased from an Egyptologist traveling through the area. Joseph Smith did not get right even one word in this whole translation. In fact he took one little letter which looks like a backwards e and translated into over 76 words with 7 names."

This claim is easy to refute. The word Olishem which is found in the Book of Abraham, has been found on an inscription dating from near the time of Abraham. We also have other unique words that match their definitions such as Jah-oh-eh and Kolob. Ancient records that deal with Abraham have been discovered since the time of Joseph Smith and they support many of the unique details about the life of Abraham that were only contained in the Book of Abraham. For further information see information from Jeff Lindsay.

Dr. Crane is introduced in the God Maker movie as, "author, college professor, expert on Mormon archaeology." (Brown 1995, 97) It can be shown that Dr. Charles Crane:

On the back cover of his book, The Bible and Mormon Scriptures Compared, his publisher lists his credentials.

He received the Bachelor's degree from Northwest School of Religion in Portland, Oregon in 1962; the Masters of Arts and the Master of Divinity degrees from Lincoln Christian Seminary, Lincoln, Illinois; Clinical Pastoral Counseling Certification from St. Luke's Hospital, Boise Idaho; and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary, Jacksonville, Florida.

Bachelor's degree - Northwest School of Religion in Portland, Oregon - 1962

There is a Northwest College of the Bible in Portland Oregon. It was originally named "Churches of Christ School of Evangelists" until 1974. It has never been accredited. It has never offered degrees in archaeology or psychology, but Charles Crane did receive a Bachelor of Theology degree from this school. His course work fulfilled "our requirements for entering the ministry." (Brown 1995, 103)

Response from Dr. Crane: Bachelor of Sacred Literature, 1956, Church of Christ School of Evangelism; the name later changed to Northwest College of the Bible. This was a rigorous course of study, 128 semester hours, in addition a full thesis was required. Others who graduated with me from this school now hold prominent positions throughout the west. It was a small, but fine school. I began my study of archaeology and biblical manuscripts there under the "Billy Sunday of the west," Archie Word. He and the others were master teachers.

Master of Divinity degree from Lincoln Christian Seminary, Lincoln, Illinoiss

Lincoln Christian Seminary has been accredited since 1954. It is unusual for an accredited school to accept credits from a non-accredited school. However the accreditation was only for the undergraduate program. The graduate programs were not accredited until 1991. (Brown 1995, 110)

Dr. Crane explained to me on the phone that since his undergraduate degree was from a non-accredited school, Lincoln put him on probation when he first started. They were pleased with his results and as you will see he graduated, Cum Laude.

Response from Dr. Crane: Master of Arts, Cum Laude, 1975, Lincoln Christian Seminary, the graduate school of Lincoln Christian College. Lincoln Christian College was accredited at the time I studied at Lincoln Christian Seminary. The Seminary was in the process of accreditation and did measure up as it received ATS and Regional accreditation. (Accreditation did not make the school valid, only confirmed that it had already been valid.)

He Continued: Master of Divinity, Magna Cum Laude, 1977, Lincoln Christian Seminary. This is a ninety hour Masters degree, sixty hours past the M.A. Requirements are similar to the PHD degree.

Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary, Jacksonville, Florida.

The Luther Rice Seminary is not currently accredited by any institution recognized by CORPA. They have stated that when Charles Crane graduated, "Our institution was not accredited at the time he graduated." (Brown 1995, 111)

Response from Dr. Crane: Doctor of Ministry degree, Suma Cum Laude, 1978, Luther-Rice Seminary. Luther-Rice is a pioneer in theological education and has set the standard followed by other seminaries. They were the very first to offer the Doctor of Ministry degree and became the pattern for over fifty other seminaries to follow. They were the standard of excellence. Who accredits the leader? There were 3800 students at Luther-Rice the year I was there.

Three hundred and eight of us received our doctorates in 1977. This list reads like a Who's Who in religion today. Dr. Stephen Olford, "Prince of baptist preachers"; Dr. Spiro Zodiates, leading specialist in New Testament Greek; Dr. Dan Shaffer, preacher of the largest Assembly of God church in America; Dr. General, Jerry Curry of President Bush's cabinet, Dr. Henry Morris, and the President of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School of Chicago, etc. . . . The program was advertised as the most difficult, but beneficial doctorate in theology in America.

Daniel C. Peterson was researching another graduate of Luther Rice Seminary, John Ankerberg.

A letter sent to me on 10 April 1996 by Luther Rice Bible College and Seminary claims that it is "the world's leader in non-traditional, practical, conservative theological education." A brochure sent on the same day by Luther Rice Seminary and Bible College--note, incidentally, the variation in the school's name--explains that "All LRS degree programs are offered through Home Study or Distance Education." But do graduate degrees earned via correspondence represent the same quality of training as those attained through close work with graduate faculty advisors and research in graduate libraries? (Every reputable graduate program that I am aware of requires a minimum of one year, and usually two years, in residence, and practical reality almost always demands more than the stipulated minimum.) (Peterson 1996, 90)
Clinical Pastoral Counseling Certification from St. Luke's Hospital, Boise Idaho

Dr. Crane completed a 6-month one unit course. The program was supervised by Koji Hayashi. He writes that, "I need to point out that this is not a counseling certification." (Brown 1995, 113)

Response from Dr. Crane: I do have a Clinical Pastoral Counseling Certificate -- it is hanging on my wall. It is from St. Luke's Hospital in Boise. I could have been licensed following this training. Others did and went to work in industry and education. My purpose was not to work as a psychologist, but to better serve the church, so I did not apply for a license. The problem with the Browns' statement are semantical, i.e. "certificate vs. certification." I do have a certificate showing completion of this training. My training in psychology came in my bachelor and master's work, followed by eight semester hours of clinical experience at St. Luke's CPEC training program."

Psychology degree

Dr. Crane states in a letter to the Brown's that, "My Psychology Training & Certification are from St. Luke's Hospital, Boise, Idaho" (Brown 1995, 115) As we have already noted that 6-month one unit course would not qualify as a degree in psychology.

Dr. Crane states: Following hours of college training in psychology I enlisted in CPEC. This is clinical experience in the work of psychology. I worked with Dr. Charles Marsh, M.D. Psychiatrist, Dr. Charles Meaney, PHD, Psychologist, and several other well-known psychologists.

Expert in Archaeology

If Dr. Crane was an expert in archaeology, others in the field would be well acquainted with him. Several were asked if they knew of a Dr. Crane. They replied as follows:

From Claremont Graduate School:
Mr. Crane is completely unknown to me, as far as I can recall. Doctor of Ministry is the name of the degree aimed at practical church work such as is earned by a pastor. It is not the scholarly degree (Ph.D. or Th.D.).
To be qualified e.g. to read and be an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls one would normally be a person with a Ph.D. The same is true of biblical manuscripts in general. . .(Brown 1995, 118)
From Biblical Archaeologist:
I have never heard of the individual you describe in your letter of March 17. Normally, one holds a Ph.D. or equivalent to be a specialist in biblical archaeology.(Brown 1995, 119)

From Fuller Theological Seminary:
His academic credentials are professional, not academic (i.e., a Doctor of Ministry) and if his claim to be an expert on biblical manuscripts is accurate, it must be because he is self-taught.(Brown 1995, 120)

Dr. Crane admits, "I never claimed to be an expert on Mormon archaeology." He goes on to describe his expertise in biblical archaeology.

I have studied biblical archaeology for thirty years. I have visited most of the biblical sites repeatedly, and read extensively in the field of biblical archaeology. I am thoroughly acquainted with this field of study.

In addition I have spent thirty years researching biblical manuscripts. I have personally seen the most significant old biblical manuscripts, Sinitic, Vatican, Alexandrian, Ephraeim, Nag Hammidi texts, P-66, etc. I have personally photographed these as well as seen many other originals. I have been to the Vatican Library, the Monastery of St. Catherine's at Sinai, the Coptic museum in Cairo, British Museum, Louvre, Smithsonian, etc. I have seen the Dead Sea Scrolls, talked with the original purchaser of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Bedouins, been in his office, personally examined some of the scrolls, etc. I have studied both Greek and Hebrew and can read these old documents. Judge for yourself, as to whether I am an expert or not in this field.

Writings of Dr. Charles Crane

Dr. Crane supplied a list to the Browns of only his books about the LDS religion. They are listed as follows. As you will see in his response, he has written some other books and articles.

Only one of those books deals with archaeology, (Brown 1995, 121)

Response by Dr. Crane: About my writings. (The Browns asked for what I had written about the LDS religion. I gave them this information, they then assumed that was all I had published.) Here are a few things:


  1. The Bible and Mormon Scriptures Compared, $7.00, in its eighth printing. It was my Masters Thesis, translated into Russian and Spanish.
  2. A practical Guide to Soul Winning, $9.00. This was my Doctoral Dissertation. It sold out of print twice and was used as a college text book on three continents.
  3. Ashamed of Joseph, Mormon Foundations Crumble, $11.00
  4. Several Others
Education Videos
  1. Balance verses Burnout in Ministry (three hours)
  2. Administering the Church for Evangelism and Growth (five hours)
  3. Family Financial Seminar (nine hours)
  4. The God Makers (movie)
  5. Advanced Biblical Studies (sixteen hours)
  6. A Text Comparison of the book of Mormon and Bible (one hour)
  7. And others
Journal Articles
  1. Horizons Magazine...a journal of mission thought
  2. The Christian Standard...America's oldest religious journal...many articles over twenty-five years.
  3. The Lookout...many articles over twenty-five years
  4. The Outreach...regular articles
  5. Many others, too numerous to mention
  1. Twice as guest lecturer to church leaders in Zimbabwe, Africa
  2. Once to the Rest Haven Conference, Harare, Zimbabwe -- missionaries from five African Nations
  3. Once to Missionaries from across Europe in Germany
  4. Once to Missionaries in France
  5. Lectured in twenty-seven states on the LDS religion
  6. Lectured on biblical manuscripts and textual criticism in several states
  7. Spoke publicly an average of three hundred times a year for several years.
  8. Hundreds of other lectures nationwide
I hope this material is received in the spirit given. I am a sinner saved by the marvelous grace of Jesus Christ. But I have worked hard and been an honorable Christian. I am deeply offended as a Christian that because I have questioned the Mormon religion on points of doctrine, my character and credibility has been assassinated.

I don't see how any of the statements from Dr. Crane were a discussion of "points of doctrine." They were all attacks to the credibility of the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. For those statements to have meaning Dr. Crane must be shown to be a reliable researcher or at least have the background to justify him in making his claims. His statements are easily discredited and his background is suspect. It isn't whether he has degrees from accredited institutions, it is more correctly whether those degrees are serious scholarly degrees and not just a theological degree "aimed at practical church work."