Doc & Cedar
The contrast between the two friends, and co-laborers, was marked. On the one hand Doc was a brilliant orator and disciplined intellectual, while Cedar was a dynamic promoter and consummate people person. They were different, but both were smart with significant educational backgrounds. Each earned Master’s degrees from prestigious educational institutions. Cedar held a Th.M. from Princeton Seminary and Doc a M.A. from the University of Chicago. Not surprisingly the two men were very different in their personalities, gifts and abilities. Those realities should not be unexpected, but they obviously played into the conflicts that developed.
I revered both men in my formative days. I’ve often said that Doc Clearwaters was the most brilliant man I knew up close and personal. He seemed to possess what was popularly referred to as a photographic memory. I don’t know whether that trait came from innate capabilities or from studious discipline. It always was amazing to hear him launch into long passages of epic poetry, or recite segments of scholarly works in the course of a sermon.
He preached without notes, and advocated that practice in both informal and classroom settings. It was said that he had extensive written outlines and notes, but that he always left them on his study desk and entered the pulpit with only his Bible. There were times when you could tell he was rehearsing, or reviewing, his message points while in the middle of a sermon. However, it was not obvious whether he was doing that to aid his memory recall or simply using repetition as an effective tool in his sermon delivery. He was a master at commanding the pulpit with language and timing. Because his services were broadcast for years he had the ability to always draw a cogent conclusion in accordance with the large clock and radio cues.
In contrast, Cedar was more of a barnstorming preacher, to draw on an analogy from the days of touring actors and speakers and later depicting entertaining stunt pilots. For almost 20 years he stormed back and forth across America promoting the cause of church planting and church growth. Sometimes he would preach a series of evangelistic meetings in a revival tent, but most often he traveled from church to church inspiring, motivating and promoting the cause of Christ.
Cedar was constantly in motion until he finally retired in 1983. Doc was much more careful about his health and energy. Cedar spent his energy on ministry travel, preaching, promoting and most of all on people. For many years I never saw him slow down, and it ultimately caught up with him.
During the 70s I would usually travel once every school year to Maranatha to preach for a Monday chapel service. I would leave St. Paul after the evening service and arrive on the campus sometime past mid-night. Never once did Cedar return home to Watertown before we pulled in to the college parking lot. He was always out serving in the churches weekend after weekend.
Doc was more of a homebody and dedicated to his consistent ministry in the church, the MBA, Pillsbury and Central Seminary. I once visited the Clearwaters home before 9 pm and the Doc was already in bedtime attire wearing a very dignified robe. Doc was very careful with his vacation time, and never took time off during the beautiful Minnesota summers when everyone else was going to the lake or on vacation trip. He always took his vacation in February – and went to warm Florida for most of the month.
Both men were fiercely loyal to the local church. Both taught a high view of the biblical importance of the New Testament doctrine of the local church. Doc was very rarely missing from the pulpit of the Fourth Baptist Church, unless it was for his winter vacation time, or because he had invited an evangelist or other guest speaker to preach. He taught local church importance by both precept and example.
Cedar, on the other hand, rarely had the privilege of attending the church where he had his membership. He was always on the go – but, always among the churches. One of the keys to the early growth of Maranatha Baptist Bible College was directly related to the number of dinner tables Cedar had put his feet under in parsonages across America. He knew pastors in an intimate way, and he knew their children just as intimately. He was coaching preacher’s kids, deacon’s kids, and other church member’s kids all across the country about the need to attend a Bible college, and Maranatha benefited in a dramatic way. He was the best recruiter for MBBC’s football program for a number of years – plus the choirs, and the drama department, and other programs at the college.
It was in this contrast of personalities and style that some of the later conflict, I have come to believe, could be traced – or, at least, seen. Doc was the thinker, strategist, leader of organizations and of a very influential local church. Cedar was the doer, promoter, and personal influencer of many pastors and local churches. Both men were consistent warhorses in the battle for the souls of men, but they worked out their ministries in decidedly different ways.