Old JMH Articles: Five From the 1970s

This is quite daring, I must admit. Or, it might be rather idiotic. But in my quest to place my published writings on this webpage, I now turn to the 1970s. 

It is rather chilling and sometimes quite illuminating to actually read what I wrote thirty years ago (wow! I really am that old). It is chilling because I find myself cringing at my wording, sometimes my views and often at my insensitivity. It is illuminating because I see my own development and I also see the first inklings or seeds of thought that will develop with time. 

I submitted articles to a wide variety of papers in the 1970s.  Three are represented below and I will share others with you as I digitize them.  Once I have completed the task, I will take some time to reflect on my early rush to print and use myself as a case study on theological development. When the below articles were written I was 20-22 years old (my birthday is July 15, 1957).  Consequently, I will give myself a break for my weaknesses, immaturity and mistakes (including bad grammar….but that one has not changed much).

Are We Born Sinners?,” Firm Foundation 95.10 (7 March 1978) 150, 155.

This article originated from an independent study with Rubel Shelly at Freed-Hardeman University on Calvinism. Since I was planning to attend a Calvinist seminary in the Fall of 1977, I wanted to study it and Rubel accomodated me.  This piece reflects the debater mentality I had at the time as I formulated my arguments in syllogistic form. But the major problem with the article is that I keep talking about “total depravity” when really my article is about “original guilt,” that is, are we born guilty of Adam’s sin.  I still reject original guilt, but I am unfair here with my use of the phrase “total depravity” and it is a superficial understanding of it.  I still like the argument from Ezekiel 18, however, and the distinction between “bear the sins of another” as a matter of consequence rather than guilt–sometimes it refers to consequences, sometimes it refers to guilt, and sometimes it refers to both.  It depends on the context.

Creational Law,” Bible Herald 26.18 (1 September 1978) 283.

This article was a byproduct of my book with Bruce L. Morton entitled Woman’s Role in the Church (1978, noted in the article).  It was my attempt at recognizing a creational ethic–an ethic rooted in creation.  The article roots the permanency of marriage, male spiritual leadership and heterosexuality in creation.  Unfortunately, this is an article where my insensitivity and dogmatism shine brightly.  For example, instead of writing about male spiritual leadership I write about “female subordination” (I cringe even now as I type those two words together).  The article is, of course, much too simplistic. Yet, at the same time, I continue to believe there is such a thing as a creational ethic and such an ethic is normative as reflective of God’s intent for human beings to live as his imagers. 

The Authority of Paul: Its Authenticity,” Firm Foundation 95.43 (24 October 24 1978) 676, 682.

This article arose out of discussions with some people close to me who tended to dismiss Paul, and it also was a byproduct of my contributions to book on the role of women.  I focus on the apostolic authority of Paul and the binding nature of his writings.  Here again I am much too simplistic. While I would still, of course, recognize Paul’s authority as an apostle and recognize that he exercises that authority through writing as well as word, the article has little or no sensititivity to the occasional and cultural horizon’s of Paul’s writings.  My use of 2 Corinthians 10-13 in this article, however, is a seed for my more developed understanding of Paul’s self-understanding as a prophet of the new covenant analogous to Jeremiah’s function as a prophet.

 “Unto You Young Men: Treatise on Tongues,” World Evangelist 7.6 (1 January 1979) 17.

This article is a byproduct of my first book A Teenager Speaks on Spiritual Gifts (1977) which was written when I was 14-15 years old and published by Ira Y. Rice, Jr. Basil Overton, who was a good friend of my father’s, invited me to contribute something for the column “Unto You Young Men.”  So, I adapted something from the book. I argue–in good debating style once again–that the tongue speakers in Corinth understood their own speech. It was not “unknown” to them; they understood what they were praying and were edified by it.  Consequently, when contemporary tongue speakers claim they can neither understand nor control what they are saying, they betray the reality that they do not themselves have the same gift that the Corinthians had. Whether the argument remains effective, I will leave for you to decide.  On another day I will comment on my own development on this point which is not necessarily a denial of the claim that I am making in the article itself.  However, my insensitivity to those who experience tongue-speaking as edifying in their own lives is all too evident in the article.

Baptism as Putting on Christ,” Firm Foundation 96.37 (11 September 1979) 582.

This article is a brief summary of a research paper I completed under Dr. Moises Silva at Westminster Theological Seminary when I took his course on Galatians (the second week of the class we had an exam to test our translation of Galatians!). It was a great class, and I–as a good Stone-Campbell traditionalist and polemicist–wrote my paper on Galatians 3:26-27.  🙂  It was a kind of “turning-point” paper for me because it opened some theological doors for me.  I began to see baptism as about more than the “remission of sins.” Rather, it participates in the instrumentality of faith for justification and sanctification.  “Putting on Christ” is a metaphor for both forensic and ethical aspects of salvation.  When I digitized this piece for presentation here, I was surprised to see how strongly I stressed the imputation of righteousness and how I had already adopted the Reformed language of “means” for baptismal theology (see my last paragraph).

Over the next few weeks I will be working on completing my “published”  articles for the website.  I have several more in the 1970s and 1980s, and then I hope to soon complete formatting my dissertation so that I might offer it here as well.

Whether this is of any benefit or not only you can judge for yourself.   Blessings, JMH

6 Responses to “Old JMH Articles: Five From the 1970s”

  1.   Terrell Lee Says:

    I haven’t thought of Bruce Morton in years. Where is he?

    A few days ago someone told me they had an old term paper I wrote back in 1978. It scared me when they said they actually read it in their study of a text they were teaching.

    JMH, thanks for your vulnerability.

  2.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    I would wish you courage but you already display that :-). So I will just say Grace and Peace to you and thanks for all your work.


  3.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Bruce lives in Katy, Texas and works at Exon.

    Courage is probably not the virtue here, Rex. 🙂

  4.   rich constant Says:



  5.   randall Says:

    Thanks for sharing and doing so in such a transparent manner. As you know, I have a greater appreciation of Calvinism than is typical in the CofC. I also appreciate your scholarship very much and look forward to when you have the time to address the Calvinism -Arminianism issue at some length. I would be especially interested in how you might address the issue of total depravity as I think that IF one acknowledges total depravity the other points logically follow.

    My understanding of total depravity is NOT that man is as rotten as he could be nor that he will always opt for the worst possible course of action. He simply prefers evil over good. This is because every aspect of man’s nature (body, emotions, intellect, will, etc.) are corrupt (by nature) to the extent that he will not choose God over evil unless God acts in his life to effect a change of his nature. this is simply to say that the natural man is spiritually deaf, blind, dead and the enemy enemy of God. When man met God in the flesh his natural inclination was to kill him.

    So the natural man must be changed by God before he will choose to please God, and he will succeed to the extent that God enables him to do so. And a corrupt (natural) man may choose to donate a bizillion dollars to build a hospital to provide free medical care for crippled children and than demand that the hospital be named after himself thereby demonstrating his self righteousness.

    Sorry I ran on long here. I am sure you could address the topic with more precision when you have the time and I eagerly look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter – and I am willing to be patient until the right time does arrive.

    Grace and peace,

  6.   rich constant Says:

    randall thanks
    always wanted to know what that T ment in a conceptional way thanks…
    john mark
    IF THAT concept comes from rom.5
    and you change sin to deveated…
    the angels’that left their proper habitation,would come under the judgement of seperation at the reconcilation of the body “believers” through the resurection from the “DEAD”to “GOD”rom 10:6,7 by the
    by the one righteous ACT of the Son (efectevly the sacrafice of his “LIFE”and instuteing the way or rightful faithfullness for us by the nulifacation of the GODs law of SIN and of DEATH to those of the creation that do good because they believe in god )
    and those of us that choose gods gospel as the power of their salvation….gods uncompramise good through GRACE,BY RIGHTEOUS FAITH IN HIM

    the of gods uncompramising “good”
    would be in doubt polarization

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