Also: Walter R. Martin - Historical Figures in the Christian Counter Cult Movement
Walter Martin has made several claims to authority to the ministry. However, the only ordination he had, when he first began his ministry, was revoked two years later. Since then, at various time over the next thirty-three years, he has falsely claimed to be an ordained Baptist minister, and ordained minister of the American Baptist Convention, and he presently claims to be an ordained minister of the Southern Baptist Convention. Our research indicates that he is none of the above. (Brown 1986, 3)
The fact that he was ordained in 1951 has been confirmed by a letter from his ordination pastor. However that same letter also states that his ordination was revoked.
"A few days before the ordination we discovered that Walter Martin's
wife had obtained a divorce in Reno, Nevada. This fact was presented to
the Ordination Council. We proceeded with the ordination on July 16, 1951
but with the understanding with Walter that if he ever re-married, we would
have to revoke his ordination."
"It was in 1953 that we learned that Walter was re-married. We called the Ordination Council and informed them of our church's decision to revoke Walter's ordination, which our church did." (Brown 1986, 7)
In 1973, Walter Martin's first wife took him to court because she didn't feel that he was living up the the divorce agreement. Among other things she charged that he was he free-lance preacher. His reply is a matter of court record, "I would like to state that I am not a free-lance preacher, but an accredited professor of biblical studies and an ordained Minister of the American Baptist Convention in good standing" (Brown 1986, 298)
In 1984 the American Baptist were asked if they had record of an ordination of Walter Martin. Reverend Linda Spoolstra responded, "Walter Ralston Martin is not listed in the American Baptist Churches' Professional Registry, nor is he listed in our Directory of Professional Church Leaders. This means that he has no standing in our denomination." (Brown 1986, 9)
In 1975 Walter Martin filed suit against Bruce Johnson and the Latter-day Saints (which he lost). Under oath he made the following statements: "I am on the staff of the Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim, and I am an ordained member of the Southern Baptist Convention, although I came from the American Baptist Convention" (Brown 1986, 13)
In Literature from the Christian Research Center which was founded by Walter Martin he again claims in 1980 to be a ordained minister and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. However, Barbara Denman from the Home Mission Board responded, "We have searched our Southern Baptist annual, our Arizona convention annual and our own Home Mission Board personnel records for the name of Walter Martin, but were unable to come up with anything. Evidently, he is not Southern Baptist, nor is he ordained." (Brown 1986, 17)
The mystery is cleared up a little bit by Robert D. Hughes of the Southern Baptist Convention of California. This letter is interesting not only for what it shows about his his lack of ordination, but also for his actually lack of commitment as a Southern Baptist.
"According to the former pastor of the San Juan Capistrano church where
Walter Martin held membership, there is no record of any Southern Baptist
"It seems he came to that church on promise of a letter from some American Baptist church or fellowship, and apparently was not too well investigated at the time. His attendance was very sporadic, according to the former pastor only one or two times a year during the time that he had knowledge of it. He assured me there was no real interest in Southern Baptist work or life but rather an opportunity on Mr. Martin's part to use that church to further his own agenda."
"It appears also that his financial support of the church was in the same league as his attendance, only a small amount once in a great while."
"This pastor does not consider him either a Southern Baptist in attitude and spirit or a supporter of Southern Baptist life and ministry." (Brown 1986, 18)
Dr. Martin received his degree in 1976 from California Western University. However, he applied the term doctor to himself before that date. In the 1974 court records he said that he received his, "Master's Degree from New York University in Philosophy of Religion, and completed my doctoral studies at New York University pending my thesis." And when he was asked to elaborate he said, "I finished my Master's thesis in 1956, and I finished all my doctoral work up to my thesis in 1968." (Brown 1986, 36)
Later on his Bible Answer Man radio program he said, "My Master's thesis? Let's see, Oh, my Doctoral thesis. I didn't do a Master's thesis." (Brown 1986, 38) Of course he should realize that you don't do a Doctoral thesis, it would be a Doctoral Dissertation. In speaking of his Master's degree, New York University indicates that, "A thesis was not required for Mr. Martin's field of study." (Brown 1986, 40)
I guess Mr. Martin felt that he could assume the title of "Doctor" before he actually had the degree. As early as 1974 there are several examples were Dr. Martin was used to refer to him. Even earlier, in 1966 on his mother's death certificate, he refers to himself as "Dr. Walter Martin." (Brown 1986, 42-48)
The fact that his name on the death certificate was Dr. Walter Martin
would seem to directly contradict his statements under oath in his 1975
suit against Bruce Johnson. The transcript records,
"MR. BUCKNUM: Q Reverend, have you ever referred to yourself as Dr. Walter Martin?
Actually Walter Martin likes to make more claims than he can support. In the Christian Research Newsletter of 1977 he said "Dr. Martin holds degrees from Stony Brook School, Adelphi University, Biblical Seminary, New York University, and California Western University." That sounds impressive, but Stony Brook is just a high school, Adelphi University he only attended for about 4 months, he attended some summer classes at Biblical Seminary. He received his Bachelor's degree from an unaccredited school in 1951 and 1952. At the time that he applied for admission to New York University they accepted credits from unaccredited schools. (Brown 1986, 31-35)
California Western University where Mr. Martin obtained his Ph. D. degree advertises in its literature that "No classroom attendance is required." (Brown 1986, 51).
The California Department of Education says about the school, "California
Western is an non accredited degree granting school, which has been operating
since 1973 or '74. The school is basically a correspondence school with
an instructional staff of four persons who are all called deans."
"It is entirely possible that this school offered a degree in Comparative Religion in '76; however, we have no record of this." (Brown 1986, 52)
Walter Martin says that California Western, "isn't a correspondence school at all, and it is accredited in the State of California." (Brown 1986, 55). The Director of graduate admission at UCLA explains that, "California Western University in Santa Ana is not accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges which is the accrediting association for the State of California." (Brown 1986, 63). California Western was only recognized as a candidate for accreditation from the National Association of Private Nontraditional Schools and Colleges, Grand Junction, Colorado. (Brown 1986, 58) The secretary of the accrediting association for California wrote, "the National Association of Private, Nontraditional Schools and Colleges in Grand Junction, Colorado, is not recognized by the Council on Post secondary Accreditation of the U.S. Office of Education." (Brown 1986, 59)
The Christian Research Institute attempted to refute these claims in a 1993 report. They started with the statement: "Facts which are not disputed concerning *Walter Ralston Martin* are as follows: He is an ordained Baptist minister and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention." We have already seen where both of these statements were in fact false.
California Western University lost a name infringement suit in 1981 and so they changed their name to California Coast University. (Brown 1986, 61) CRI quoted a report by Dr. Bear:
"California Coast University...was one of the first of California's non-resident universities...CCU is the only non- resident school in California to have received state approval of all degree programs offered...each faculty member holds recognized degrees from traditional schools."CRI also quoted from the California State Department of Education has stated in the California Education Code, Section 94310(b):
An institute may be granted full institutional approval if the superintendent approves every degree offered by the institution. The law mandates the superintendent to determine -- in advance of issuing an approval and in renewing such approval -- by a qualitative review and assessment of the institution through the use of an institutional self-study and a comprehensive onsite evaluation by a qualified visitation committee impaneled by the superintendent: that the curriculum is consistent in quality with curricula offered by established accredited institutions; and the courses achieve their professed objectives, with verifiable evidence of the students' academic achievement being comparable to that required of graduates from accredited institutions.But in the case of California Western University, this doesn't seem to have occurred. At least the State of California, Department of Education responded in 1981, "California Western is an non accredited degree granting school, which has been operating since 1973 or '74. The school is basically a correspondence school with an instructional staff of four persons who are called deans. It is entirely possible that this school offered a degree in Comparative Religion in '76; however, we have no record of this." (Brown 1986, 52) It would appear that the superintendent did not make the evaluation as outlined in the code quoted above because they have no record of the Comparative Religion degree.
The Christian Research Institute's report concluded with a statement, "Yes, Walter Martin's doctoral degree is legitimate, and no, it really does not matter." They were wrong again about it being a legitimate degree and it matters a great deal. This establishes Walter Martin's credibility. He was not interested in the truth, he was interested in twisting the information and even lying if it would support his priestcraft. This is particularly obvious in his assertion that he was a descendent of Brigham Young.
While he thought it would serve his purposes, Walter Martin claimed that he was a descendant of Brigham Young. He was shown complete genealogies that proved that he was not a descendant of Brigham Young. Then he changed and made the assertion that he was only a relative of Brigham Young. A claim that is also easily provable to be false. We can only imagine that Walter Martin wanted to make such a claim so that it would appear that he came out from Mormonism.
On a taped lecture, Walter Martin falsely stated that Wayne Cowdrey was a descendant of Oliver Cowdery and that he was a descendant of Brigham Young. "Wayne Cowdrey and I are very close because he is a descendant of Oliver Cowdery, who allegedly wrote down the Book of Mormon that Joseph dictated. He is now a reborn Christian. I am a descendant of Brigham Young--successor to Joseph Smith, ruler of the Latter-day Saints Church--a born again Christian. Would anybody ever think that Cowdery the scribe and Young the successor would stand together on the platform and expose the whole thing as fraudulent? Here we are, the irony of God is remarkable!" (Brown 1986, 70) The only thing that is remarkable is how easily Walter could say things he knew were not true.
In the preface to this book, The Maze of Mormonism, Dr. Martin stated that his mother was a, "descendant of Brigham Young, but disciple of Jesus Christ." Even a couple years after he had acknowledged that he was not a descendant, the dedication had not changed. (Brown 1986, 70)
After the genealogy was thoroughly checked and verified that he was not a descendant, Martin claimed, ". . . we did a little bit of checking and found out we were related to Brigham Young through one of his brothers, but not a descendant" (Brown 1986, 76)
Walter Martin's mother, Maud Ainsworth, was the daughter of Joseph Ainsworth and Annie Young. Annie's parents are John I. Young (born about 1835), and Marion. Although several genealogists have checked for any relationship between John I. Young and Brigham Young, no relationship was ever found. (Brown 1986, 88)
Bruce Johnson challenged Walter Martin's use of a false quote during one of his lectures. Walter Martin threatened to sue and did. He filed a suit against Bruce Johnson and the LDS church on May 21, 1975. He asked for $1 million in general damages and $10,000 in punitive damages and attorney's fees. (Brown 1986, 102)
This suit was all started because Dr. Martin was using a non-existent reference. In a lecture at Westminister Presbyterian Church he quoted from Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, page 385. Mr. Johnson asked him how he could be quoting from page 385 when the book only had 376 pages. Martin said that he would let Mr. Johnson prove that he was wrong in a court of law. "If you're right and I'm wrong, you've ruined me. If I'm right and you're wrong, the Mormon Church in California is going to be terribly embarrassed." (Brown 1986, 102)
On a motion from the defendants, the court entered a summary judgment against Martin's suit. Walter Martin asked for an appeal and a retrial. They were both denied by the court. Walter's final petition was denied on Feb. 13, 1979. (Brown 1986, 317) Therefor after Feb. 13th, Walter Martin had lost his suit and no further action was possible. But that didn't stop Walter from claiming that a suit existed which he had already lost. As late as 1985 Walter Martin was still claiming that, "This case will come to trial in Orange County, California." (Brown 1986, 99)
We have already seen many areas where Mr. Martin fails to be honest or accurate. He is not an ordained minister. He claims to hold a doctorate that he never really earned. But he even claimed the title doctor before he had received his degree from a correspondence school. He knows that he is not related to Brigham Young, but he continues to claim that he is. And even his suit against the church is misrepresented and he talks about it going to trial after it has already been dismissed. But even when he loses, he twists that to indicate that the church is too powerful. That is nonsense, if you don't have any basis for a suit it has nothing to do with who you are suing.
Walter Martin sets the standard that must be his foundation, "I also feel quite deeply that the facts contained in this book must be sound and reliable if my conclusions are to be considered valid and useful to the interested Christian. I have made every effort to accomplish this goal of accuracy." (Martin 1978, 12)
Mr. Martin likes to makes statements that have no basis in fact and instead of reasonable scholarship he seems to be just passing on rumors. He states in his Maze of Mormonism, "The Mormon Church controls 78 percent of the sugar beet industry of the United States, controls U.S. Industries (a large conglomerate), and owns large blocks of stock in the Central Pacific Railroad." (Martin 1978, 20)
All of these statements are false.