Walter Ralston Martin : biography
Walter Ralston Martin (September 10, 1928 – June 26, 1989), was an American Evangelical minister, author, and Christian apologist who founded the Christian Research Institute in 1960 as a para-church ministry specializing as a clearing-house of information in both general Christian apologetics and in countercult apologetics.Contemporary Authors Volume 129, Detroit: Gale Research, 1990, p. 287.Douglas Groothuis, "Walter R. Martin" in Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, ed. A. Scott Moreau, Grand Rapids: Baker Books,2000, p.601.
Martin's career as an apologist began at the age of fifteen after receiving Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in Hegemen Chapel at The Stony Brook School (Stony Brook, NY). While in college and graduate school, he often skipped eating during his lunch hours to answer a variety of tough questions about the Bible and the Christian faith while standing on the corner of Wall Street and Broadway, in New York City. Martin has indicated in various book dedications and in audio recorded lectures how he was mentored by Frank Gaebelein (Headmaster, The Stony Brook School),Martin, Essential Christianity, p. 12 Wilbur Smith (1894–1976) (author of the apologetic text Therefore Stand), and the Presbyterian Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895–1960).Walter R. Martin "Dedication" in Walter Martin's Cults Reference Bible, Santa Ana: Vision House, 1981.Walter R. Martin, The Rise of the Cults, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1955, p. 8. Jill Martin Rische, Walter Martin Ministries, www.waltermartin.com
Martin's relationship with Barnhouse as his mentor grew over the years, and he was appointed as a regular columnist to Eternity magazine (1955–60). Barnhouse's support for Martin's research and teaching abilities resulted in the reassessment of Seventh Day Adventist theology, raising the profile of his early ministry in the Evangelical movement.Margaret N. Barnhouse, That Man Barnhouse, Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1983, p. 223. He also worked for a time as a research associate for the National Association of Evangelicals."Dr.Walter R. Martin" The Christian Librarian, Volume 13, Number 4, April 1970, p. 3.
Martin was ordained as a minister of the Regular Baptists in 1951, but this was revoked in 1953 owing to his remarriage. However, Martin met with the key pastor involved in this revocation and a restoration agreement was apparently reached, as Martin began marrying couples on television and continuing in public pastoral roles with the full knowledge of the Baptist denomination.Martin Rische, Questions on Walter Martin's Ordination, www.waltermartin.com His status as a minister has been the subject of much controversy but his daughter, Jill Martin Rische, has made more information available that puts much of the controversy to rest. Walter Martin served as a pastor in various churches in New York and New Jersey in the 1950s and 1960s. He also became a regular teacher of Bible study classes at Barnhouse's Church in New York City. In later years Martin would serve as a preacher and Bible teacher at Melodyland Christian Center Robert Quebedeaux, The Worldly Evangelicals, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978, p. 66.Anson Shupe, Six Perspectives on New Religions, Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1981, p. 71. and then at Newport Mesa Christian Center in California.
Perhaps the greatest public controversy of his early career arose from his studies of Seventh-day Adventist theology. From its earliest days until the 1950s, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was regarded by Evangelical Christians and mainstream Protestants as either an extreme sect or heretical cult.Malcolm Bull & Keith Lockhart, Seeking A Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989, pp. 28-29. Martin had initially accepted the prevailing Protestant opinion about the heretical status of the Seventh-day Adventists. He indicated his opposition to Adventist teachings in a brief paragraph in the inaugural edition of his book The Rise of the Cults, published in 1955.Martin, The Rise of the Cults, p.15.
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