Hope Fulfilled, Treasure Gained

No one will ever replace Dr. Myron J. Houghton.

“Dr. Myron” was my seminary theology professor. He served at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary from 1983 until his retirement in 2019.

He died on Tuesday, less than two weeks from his 79th birthday.

There are, in fact, many aspects of his life that can never be replicated—such as his wit, his unique life experiences and the incredible rapport that he had with his students who, through the years, became an increasingly smaller fraction of his age. He even spent most of his evenings going out to dinner with one, or sometimes a small group, of them.

But perhaps his affinity for students grew from the fact that Dr. Myron had so much in common with them.

A lifelong bachelor, Dr. Myron devoted his life to the academic study of theology. He graduated from nine different institutions of theological higher education. These schools represented not only his own fundamental, Baptist and dispensational views, but also the views held by the Grace Brethren, Methodism, confessional Lutheranism, Eastern Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholic Church. He also undertook arduous study of other theological perspectives.

For Dr. Myron, this was not merely an academic exercise. Rather, he aspired to be competent to provide—from direct testimony—an accurate representation of the best version of the view that any given theology had to offer. He believed that anything less than this approach was Biblically and academically unacceptable.

The idea that someone would be able to duplicate such an endeavor in today’s world seems, practically speaking, most unlikely. Dr. Myron also had the opportunity to attend schools such as Moody Bible Institute, Grace Theological Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary at a time when he studied under many of the greats of a bygone era.

Yet Dr. Myron was not a dry or stuffy academic. He was, at heart, a preacher, and his preaching influenced me greatly. As I saw him at the lectern in seminary chapel with no notes, except for the writing and highlighting in his well-worn study Bible, his appeal as a communicator was most compelling. Everyone who sat there knew unmistakably that his was a model worthy of emulating.

He gave you that very same sense in his classes. Although he used notes there, his communication was still based around his Bible and his Greek New Testament, and you got the sense that if he were forced to lecture with nothing but those tools, he could teach in the most engaging way for an incredibly long time.

What made his teaching so appealing was his devotion to the Scriptures, based on the recognition of their supernatural origin. He truly practiced the doctrine of verbal inspiration. While recognizing that our interpretation of any one verse must be able to bear the load of the entirety of Scripture, Dr. Myron showed us how we could also rest our entire hermeneutical weight (even the weight of our entire eternal lives) on the frame of just one word, within one verse, if it was rightly understood in its context. His teaching exemplified the practice of true Biblical interpretation in both the grand flow of Scripture as well as in the most minute details. I will never forget hearing him say in class, in response to a misuse of Scripture, that, “I cannot in good conscience handle the Word of God in that way.”

Dr. Myron amassed a personal library representative of his academic background—and he used it! When he found duplicates or other books he no longer needed, he brought them to class and set them on his desk for students to take. He needed the room, as he was always ordering more. You could watch him—or hear him—pick up his mail after chapel. The excitement was that of a kid on Christmas morning.

One taste that I acquired directly from Dr. Myron was his love of bookshelf ties. He came to a point where he desired to wear one almost every day. The statement was not lost on his students.

Graciously, Dr. Myron wrote an endorsement for me in my service with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. I will forever treasure that, and I hope that those who hear me teach will find that I have more in common with Dr. Myron than just his taste in ties (see Luke 6:40).

Dr. Myron went to find the treasures for which he had spent his life on Tuesday. The only things he left behind were his students and his legacy.

(Office photo courtesy of Regular Baptist Press, used by permission.)

Paul Scharf 2019 Bio


Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, serving in the midwest. He also assists Whitcomb Ministries and writes for “Answers” Magazine and Regular Baptist Press. For more information on his ministry, visit foi.org/scharf or email pscharf@foi.org.

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There are 23 Comments

josh p's picture

Thank you for this Paul. I’ve never even heard him speak but the people I’ve met who studied under him had the same opinion.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I never met Dr. Houghton. I've read his Law & Grace twice, and need to read it again. I disagreed with it, and may well disagree again. However, his learned presentation of a dispensational view of the issue, and his more than fair representation of the other side, will likely never be equaled. In that respect, his work has and will continue to be rightly esteemed like McClain's Greatness of the Kingdom.

I wish he'd written more. I wish I'd taken some theology classes with him.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

G. N. Barkman's picture

Never having met Dr. Houghton, I was impressed by the honor and admiration of his acquaintances.  He sounds like a godly man and solid teacher.  Wanting to get to know him better, I clicked on the link of his teaching on SermonAudio, on the first video, which happened to be on II Corinthians 5:14,15.  He proceeded to explain why the Calvinist use of this text to support Definite Atonement was wrong.  Fair enough, let's hear what he has to say.

He said that the idea that Christ died for "the all" who died in Christ when He was crucified was unsupported because verse 15 identifies the ones for whom Christ died as those who "live."  His reasoning seemed to be that because everyone "lives" (until they die), this cannot be speaking of the elect only.  What?   Unless I completely misunderstood what he said, that's one of the worst examples of exegesis I've ever seen.  The ones who "live" in verse 15 are clearly those who have been made alive spiritually as a result of dying with Christ, not those who posses physical life.  They "live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."  This text teaches that Christ died for "all" the elect, not "all" people without exception.

Please, show me how I misunderstood the godly doctor.  I want to respect him because so many others clearly do, but unless I am misunderstanding what he said, this is really sloppy work.

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Editor

I found his book similarly unpersuasive. If you want a detailed dispensationalist perspective on the law, Houghton is the best available. It has become a classic; the defacto "answer" for dispensationalists looking for a trump card, as in:

PERSON 1: I'm not sure what to think about the law and the Christian!

PERSON 2: Well, have you read Houghton!!?

That doesn't mean it's a persuasive book!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Never having met Dr. Houghton, I was impressed by the honor and admiration of his acquaintances.  He sounds like a godly man and solid teacher.  Wanting to get to know him better, I clicked on the link of his teaching on SermonAudio, on the first video, which happened to be on II Corinthians 5:14,15.  He proceeded to explain why the Calvinist use of this text to support Definite Atonement was wrong.  Fair enough, let's hear what he has to say.

He said that the idea that Christ died for "the all" who died in Christ when He was crucified was unsupported because verse 15 identifies the ones for whom Christ died as those who "live."  His reasoning seemed to be that because everyone "lives" (until they die), this cannot be speaking of the elect only.  What?   Unless I completely misunderstood what he said, that's one of the worst examples of exegesis I've ever seen.  The ones who "live" in verse 15 are clearly those who have been made alive spiritually as a result of dying with Christ, not those who posses physical life.  They "live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."  This text teaches that Christ died for "all" the elect, not "all" people without exception.

Please, show me how I misunderstood the godly doctor.  I want to respect him because so many others clearly do, but unless I am misunderstanding what he said, this is really sloppy work.

I honestly don't see how you got what you got from his brief comments on those verses. He suggests at 7:55 that v.14 may be referring to the fall and our death in Adam. He then says at 8:20 that the death of all in v.14 is taken care of by Christ's death for all in v.15 (he died for all). At 8:45 he says that the rest of v.15 represents the appropriate response to the work of Christ, which is to live for him. He goes on to explain around 20:00-21:00 that Christ's death allows men to be saved because God does not count their sins against them until the judgment. And therefore, he says at 21:50, that believers plead with unbelievers to be reconciled with God. He summarizes this again at 22:50, saying that God has temporarily suspended the imputing of sins, so that sinners have an opportunity to trust in Christ. All of this shows that 2 Cor 5 need not be read as support for limited atonement, even if you and Tyler find his arguments ultimately unconvincing. 

LGCarpenter's picture

More on Dr. Houghton's life and ministry from the Baptist Bulletin:

THE UNFINISHED TASK OF MYRON HOUGHTON

I've been extremely blessed to have benefited from his teaching.  He was my neighbor across the hall one year when I attended Faith and we had planned to get together for lunch but didn't get around to it then.  He will be greatly missed by many but we also rejoice that he is now with the One who he so faithfully served.

Mr. LaVern G. Carpenter

Proverbs 3:1-12

G. N. Barkman's picture

Paul, surely you do not find Dr. Houghton's explanation convincing?  His interpretation is a classic example of eisegesis, forcing the text to fit a theological position.  These statements cannot possibly refer to our death in Adam.  The wording renders that explanation untenable.

"If One died for all, then (subsequently) all died."  (II Corinthians 5:14, NKJV)  "that one died for all, therefore all died"  (NASB)  "that one has died for all, therefore all have died"  (ESV)  Our death in Adam is the consequence of Adam's sin, not the consequence of Christ's death!  The meaning is that as a consequence of Christ's death, all for whom He died, died with Him.  Also, as a consequence of Christ's death, the "all" for whom He died are now able to live for Christ, not themselves.  (verse 15)  It is a clear statement of Christ's death for His people.  It takes some exegetical gymnastics to avoid the obvious.  This is one of a myriad of NT texts where "all" does not mean everyone without exception, but all of a particular class, which class is revealed in the context.

This is the text that forced S. Lewis Johnson to resign from the Dallas Theological Seminary faculty.  He could no longer avoid the teaching that Christ's atoning death was particularized for the elect.  Since this contradicted the DTS doctrinal statement supporting Universal Atonement, he reluctantly resigned.  It was a painful decision, but necessary for a clear conscience.

G. N. Barkman

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Paul, surely you do not find Dr. Houghton's explanation convincing?  His interpretation is a classic example of eisegesis, forcing the text to fit a theological position.  These statements cannot possibly refer to our death in Adam.  The wording renders that explanation untenable.

"If One died for all, then (subsequently) all died."  (II Corinthians 5:14, NKJV)  "that one died for all, therefore all died"  (NASB)  "that one has died for all, therefore all have died"  (ESV)  Our death in Adam is the consequence of Adam's sin, not the consequence of Christ's death!  The meaning is that as a consequence of Christ's death, all for whom He died, died with Him.  Also, as a consequence of Christ's death, the "all" for whom He died are now able to live for Christ, not themselves.  (verse 15)  It is a clear statement of Christ's death for His people.  It takes some exegetical gymnastics to avoid the obvious.  This is one of a myriad of NT texts where "all" does not mean everyone without exception, but all of a particular class, which class is revealed in the context.

This is the text that forced S. Lewis Johnson to resign from the Dallas Theological Seminary faculty.  He could no longer avoid the teaching that Christ's atoning death was particularized for the elect.  Since this contradicted the DTS doctrinal statement supporting Universal Atonement, he reluctantly resigned.  It was a painful decision, but necessary for a clear conscience.

I don't think you are listening very carefully to what he said, because your description of what he's saying doesn't match up with what I heard him say. S. Lewis Johnson's resignation from DTS is not relevant in any way that I can see.

FWIW, I didn't say that his arguments were convincing, just that his explanation of the chapter is internally consistent. This seemed to me to be the substance of your critique. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

A few years ago, an acquaintance forwarded me a short article Dr. Houghton wrote about why Christ's active obedience was an un-biblical concept. It really upset me. I dismissed it at the time as a knee-jerk, anti-Reformed bias that seemed to ooze from Faith. Perhaps I should re-read it. All I remember is that the article gave me a feeling of contempt for Faith as a serious theological school because its party line (to this outside observer) seemed to be to disagree with Reformed theology at every point possible. It was around the same time I re-read Law & Grace, and was feeling a bit impatient with the "Dispensationalist Only" prism of hermeneutics. That may have colored my opinion.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

josh p's picture

Tyler, read Andy Snelling’s (sp) thesis paper on it from Masters. His basic point is that it’s a new theological concept that has absolutely no support in the scriptures and wasn’t even taught until the reformation. You may disagree but it’s a very informative article either way.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I confess that I stopped listening to Dr. Hougton's message early on when I realized he was trying to explain away the meaning of "died" in II Corinthians 5:14,15.  I was hoping that others, like yourself, who took time to listen to the entire message would demonstrate that my initial impression was flawed.

However, I based my response upon your description of what Dr. Houghton taught from this passage.  If it sounds like I'm responding to something he didn't say, then perhaps your description of what you heard him to say may be to blame.  The point is that the meaning of "that one died for all, therefore all died" requires an understanding of "died" as something subsequent to and resulting from Christ's death.  This cannot be the death of Adam and his posterity because of sin.  So what is it?

G. N. Barkman

JNoël's picture

I've been off SI for a while, because I was finding it was no longer fulfilling its purpose.

I popped on today because I assumed there would be something about Dr. Myron Houghton. I've heard him speak several times at my church (my pastor was good friends with him), and appreciated learning under him for many of the same reasons the writer of this article articulated.

I'm leaving SI again . . . for a while . . . because this has become a gathering place of individuals who are no better than those on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media outlet where food fights are daily occurrences. Those of you who are using this particular thread to criticize a man whose life exemplified what God wants us to be should be ashamed.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

G. N. Barkman's picture

I've greatly benefited from the doctrinal discussions on SI.

G. N. Barkman

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

The point is that the meaning of "that one died for all, therefore all died" requires an understanding of "died" as something subsequent to and resulting from Christ's death.  This cannot be the death of Adam and his posterity because of sin.  So what is it?

You declare with certainty what that phrase cannot mean. I understand why you believe that, based on your presuppositions, which appears to be why you didn't listen to the whole presentation. But I'm simply trying to point out that Houghton disagrees (I think) and offers an internally consistent reading of the chapter in light of that. I don't really have anything else to add to the discussion, since we don't share the same presuppositions when approaching this text. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I hope my comments did not seem malicious or spiteful. I said kind things about Dr. Houghton's book; it is the most comprehensive thing yet written on the Christian and the law from a dispensationalist point of view. I did not find it persuasive, but I admit I must read it again because it has been a while and I may not have grasped his argument well back then. I wrote a tribute to him on my website once I heard of his passing.

Unfortunately, I have nothing personal to add because I did not know the man.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mark_Smith's picture

josh p wrote:

Tyler, read Andy Snelling’s (sp) thesis paper on it from Masters. His basic point is that it’s a new theological concept that has absolutely no support in the scriptures and wasn’t even taught until the reformation. You may disagree but it’s a very informative article either way.

Wait, Andy Snelling is an Australian creationist geologist isn't he?

G. N. Barkman's picture

My interpretation is based upon a careful exposition of the text.  (You assume it is based upon my "presuppositions," but that is an assumption which you are unable to accurately determine.)

If "therefore" does not require "subsequent to and resulting from" Christ's death, then please explain how it can legitimately mean something else.  Miss-interpreting the main point of the text, and then bringing other elements of the text into line with one's initial miss-interpretation may be consisstent, but it is hardly accurate.  The real question is, "What do these words mean?"  Not, "Can I find a consistent way to avoid the plain meanng?"

G. N. Barkman

Don Johnson's picture

the original post is a memorial to a beloved Christian leader on his passing to glory, yet it is somehow appropriate to argue about a topic that hasn't been settled for thousands of years. Literally.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

TylerR's picture

Editor

It was predestined to be this way.

That joke never gets old.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

josh p's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

josh p wrote:

 

Tyler, read Andy Snelling’s (sp) thesis paper on it from Masters. His basic point is that it’s a new theological concept that has absolutely no support in the scriptures and wasn’t even taught until the reformation. You may disagree but it’s a very informative article either way.

 

 

Wait, Andy Snelling is an Australian creationist geologist isn't he?

Haha yes I'm sorry. I'm getting my theologians mixed up. That's Andrew Snider! 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Thanks. I was wondering how you leap from theology to geology, but some people are impressive!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

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