This final installment (perhaps just for now) remembering the principled stalwart Baptist Historian Dr. Richard Weeks actually harks back to his early days – student days. I find this booklet entitled “The Life Story of Humility” to be fascinating, and so obviously reflective of the character and devotion of a man who most folks only knew as their teacher, professor, and friend.
Please let us know if you enjoy this look into how the grace of God shaped him for years of fruitful service.
Dr. Dick and Uncle Elmer with “Humility”
I have been able to learn from his daughter that there are important facts and information about his pre-seminary days that may be of interest to those who loved Dr. Dick. Stay tuned.
Much later in my ministry I had the privilege of following Dr. Weeks as the teacher of the Baptist Heritage course at Maranatha Baptist Bible College in 1988. In the spring semester of that year Dr. Weeks suffered a stroke that led to his retirement. I came to MBBC as VP of Administration to replace my good friend Jim Munro and was also given the assignment of replacing Dr. Weeks in the curriculum. He had taught Baptist History and Baptist Polity since the founding of the college, but in the fall of 1988 those courses were combined to a single course entitled Baptist Heritage.
I inherited Dr. Weeks’ class notes and benefited greatly from them as I fashioned the combined course. From his class notes I learned of the clear distinction that he drew between the teaching of Baptist successionism, which he rejected, to his view that he called Spiritual Kinship. He believed, from his lifelong study of the historical record, that there were Baptistic like churches down through the ages since the 1st Century churches
Unique to Dr. Weeks’ teaching was that he developed the acrostic BRAPSIS to enumerate the Baptist distinctives. While many teachers have used the word BAPTIST or BAPTISTS to teach the distinctives, Dr. Weeks felt those acrostics did not reflect the logical flow of one distinctive into another.
In 2013 the Maranatha Advantage publication honored and noted Dr. Weeks’ singular contribution to the distinctive Baptistic emphasis of the college:
“He created a list of what he thought the key Baptist distinctives were, without trying to force them into the acrostic grid,” Dr. Saxon commented. “He also established an order to these distinctives, considering not so much that some distinctives are more important than others, but rather that some distinctives tend to flow out of other distinctives.” “From the foundational beliefs—the Bible as the sole authority of faith and practice, and a regenerated and immersed church membership—flow the autonomy of the local church, the priesthood of the believer, and soul liberty,” Dr. Saxon explained. “In essence, these become the pillars for the two ordinances and finally, the two separations (separation of church and state and separation ethically and ecclesiastically).”
Dr. Weeks was quoted as saying, “Yes, true Baptists are different! We are different because of certain important beliefs and certain important doctrinal emphases.”
I remember that in the early 1980s, on one of my visits to Maranatha, I went to Dr. Weeks’ office to ask him a question. Upon entering his office, I quickly realized it was partially a bookstore devoted to selling used books inexpressively to students. Dick Weeks was a certified bibliophile, and he had created a pipeline for British booksellers of theological books to supply Maranatha students at very reasonable prices.
I wanted to ask him a question about a large volume that I had purchased for a few dollars at a used bookstore. I queried, “Dr. Weeks, have you heard of book entitled, A treatise upon Baptist Church jurisprudence, by Marshall?” He immediately shot back, “Does it have an embossed insignia that looks like a star on the cover?” I replied, “It does!” With a twinkle in his eye, he told me that I had made a very valuable purchase. When I retired in 2014 I gave that book to a colleague who is a historian and someone I knew would value the treasure.
Another aspect of Dick Weeks’ personality and contribution was his love for athletics. He was well known for his enthusiastic support for the Maranatha sports teams. In recognition of his steadfast loyalty the Maranatha Athletic Department Hall of Fame posthumously inducted him in 2004. The college publication at that time gave this explanation:
“Though short in height he was large in stature as the legendary cheer person at Maranatha athletic events. No one else could whip up the crowd like Dr. Weeks when he would charge around the gym wielding his “Spirit Sword” bringing the students to their feet. For this trait he was ushered into the Maranatha Athletic Department Hall of Fame in 2004. The citation for his induction includes these words, “Dr. Weeks’ spirit and enthusiasm for Maranatha Crusader sports were contagious. Whether in Chapel, pep rallies, on the field or on the court, Dr. Weeks would cheer faithfully and fervently for the Crusaders. From his stocking cap and letter jacket to his ‘Spirit Sword’, Dr. Weeks exemplified the true meaning and spirit of Maranatha Baptist Bible College Athletics.”
In 1993, in the months before Dr. Weeks died, I went to see him at the nursing care facility in Freeport, Illinois, where he was residing. For almost two years I was part of a four-man team that served as rotating interim pastors at a church a few miles north of Freeport. I visited him on two occasions that I remember. The first time he was rather bright and sunny and we enjoyed some good fellowship remembering earlier days. The second time I visited he was in a definite declining physical state.
I remember going back to Watertown and telling Dr. Weniger, President at Maranatha and long-time my boss. “Bud, if you want to see Dr. Weeks you better go soon. I don’t think it will be long before he goes to heaven.” As I remember, Dr. Weniger did take the time to make that trip.
Dr. Weeks’ memorial service was held at Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown, Wisconsin where he had worshipped and served. My recollection was that it was a blessed service of remembrance and rejoicing. Dr. David Cummins, a kindred spirit and lover of Baptist history, was one of the speakers. He told some warm stories about Dr. Dick that brought laughter and fond memories to the gathered friends, colleagues, and former students. It was one of those joyous memorial services I lovingly remember.
Dr. Weeks was a rare blend of genuine scholarship and spiritual mentoring. He was a choice servant of God who was short in stature, but who demonstrated a fidelity and devotion to a big God. He loved His Lord; he was devoted to his wife who was the consummate helpmeet, and to his daughter who has endeavored to faithfully carry on his legacy. But finally, all can say, he poured his life into the students. All of them.
I consider it distinct honor that he was my friend. Ps. 71:18