4-The James Watt / Ern Baxter Connection


Across from the Post Intelligencer building in Seattle Washington, with its large blue earth globe, was a two story square brick church named “Broadway Tabernacle”. The building no longer stands but this is where we attended church shortly after moving to the Seattle area from Noti, Oregon. At Broadway Tabernacle my father worked closely with James A Watt on various church projects. This close association, and the fact my dad was very proficient mechanically, meant some of his weekends would be spent at the church performing maintenance duties. One particular Saturday, March 18, 1967, my father and I were at Broadway Tabernacle to change the light bulbs in an enormous chandelier that hung from the high vault ceiling. To change the bulbs we climbed through a small doorway, just off the pulpit area, then up a narrow wooden stairway that wound its way high into the attic, about thirty feet above the main floor. Once there it was possible to crank the chandelier down to the main floor on a cable so we could easily change the bulbs. It was quite an adventure for an eleven-year-old kid.

We cranked the chandelier down, changed the bulbs then, just after returning to the main floor from the attic, James A Watt, the pastor, met us as he came out of his study. He was quite excited about a new method of study he felt the Lord had just given him. He stated to us this new study method used a set of books he had just recently acquired and he was excited to show my father his discovery. 

It remains a vivid memory for me but it is best described in James A Watt’s own words. (Link follows)

"On Saturday morning March 18, 1967 I was preparing for our Sunday services at Broadway Tabernacle, Seattle. Totally unexpectedly—in a split second I saw how to use the works of Englishman's Greek Concordance, John Stegenga's Greek Concordance, and Panin's New Testament numeric Greek and English texts to produce Greek word studies in a new format, but easily usable by lay leaders. It took me two hours to write up the insights given to me by the Holy Spirit." (Link)

I recall sitting in Mr. Watt’s study that day, to the left of the platform, for an extended period while he showed my father this new study method using a new book by a man named John Stegenga. Mr. Watt later wrote, when describing the 4000 page manuscript that took shape after this moment:

The idea for these 4000 MS. pages came to me in a split second on March 18, 1967. At the request of Pastor W.J.Ern Baxter, we prepared these papers. We started out with a research committee of some 40 helpers, but this soon dwindled down to one – Dean Finnestad. The main leg-work and production of this research was carried on by my associate Dean. 
Mr. Watt began this work immediately after that day and my dad was part of this original team of 40 helpers. The last remaining member,  Dean Finnestad continued the work and here is an excerpt from a writing by Dean Finnestad:

The Word Study Format
I have received several requests regarding the word studies and books which God has had me working on for the past 25 years. The first book “Foundation Truths” was done at the request of W.J. “Ern” Baxter who felt that the basic words listed in Hebrews 6:1, 2 are foundational for the Christ-like walk. This book uses lesson plans to discuss and develop the concepts involved in each of the major Greek words used in this passage of Scripture. I have since completed a book about angels entitled “Angels in Charge” which uses the word studies to develop a subject rather than an exposition of Scripture. In any case there are over 50 projected books based upon this word study format. Please keep in mind that although these books, and indeed all the word studies, can be studied by an individual they are really designed to be used in a group as a study guide.
The purpose of the word study is to help us focus on the definitions of words and relate them to our understanding of and relationship with God. Language is communication and understanding Scripture is a key to communicating with God. If we just open our minds and our hearts while studying His Word in this unique way we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us. And He is the best teacher of all!
One of the biggest problems facing the church today is the mis-use and mis-translation of the original languages used in Scripture. For the most part, our modern translations of Scripture have been done by men who don’t really know God. They have a head knowledge but no heart knowledge. They have intelligence but no wisdom. They have reason but no spiritual insight. Thus, their work reflects much doctrinal bias and it is this doctrinal bias which has lead to an apostate church, i.e. a church that has fallen away from the truth.
Lately God has shown me that this was all part of His plan. The Word of God is full of mysteries and these mysteries are only revealed by the Holy Spirit to men who seek for truth. He has kept the truth covered through the medium of language in order to shock the world as He begins to reveal the truth in His people in these last days.
God has also shown me that these word studies which He has inspired are a tool for His people to use to open and uncover and manifest and reveal His truth. A unique principle behind these studies and their related books is that once you have learned how to use them you become a teacher, able to pass on God’s truth to others as well as giving them this tool so that they, in turn, become teachers. Wasn’t this Paul’s commission to Timothy, to teach others to be teachers? This is how the nations of this earth will be brought into the Kingdom of God!
This is not a knowledge game. The goal is not to know more than others. The goal is that the truth of God will shine in His people and radiate His glory to all of creation. God’s people must not just know the truth, we must live it, and in living it we will attract the lost of this world just like a light in the darkness attracts insects.
The pages below have been taken from “Foundation Truths” and tweaked just a bit to give you a better understanding of how the word studies are created. After reading this article please read “A Sample Study” also found on this website.
Tools Used To Produce Greek Word Studies
  1. John Stegenga's "Greek/English Analytical Concordance."
This unique concordance combines all Greek words into some 1619 root words. A root word is the basic word from which other parts of speech are derived. The root is sometimes a part of speech which isn't even used in the New Testament, yet other words which come out of the root are used. By looking at any word in the Greek text we are able to trace it to its root word and examine all the different parts of speech, i.e. verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, etc. By examining these different parts of speech, each in its own context, we are able to produce accurate definitions through usage rather than preconceptions.
  1. Englishmen's Greek Concordance
This concordance, which uses the same Greek text (Stephanus) as Stegenga, takes the various parts of speech and then lists the verses in which the word is used. A short section of each verse is listed with the word under consideration in italics. This concordance establishes a common and consistent phrase for each reference in our word studies in the King James Version. However, we use any translation which is useful in creating a good title.
  1. Panin's Greek Interlinear New Testament
This Greek text is our ultimate plumbline. Every reference we use is checked against Panin's Greek. If a reference is missing from Stegenga or Englishmen's we add it. If a reference is omitted in Panin we omit it from our study (hence, the notation "omitted in best mss"). If the Greek case form is changed by Panin we change it for our study. Panin also provides extremely accurate contexts. (See "Numerics vs. Numerology" for more about Panin.)
  1. Kittel's "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament"
We use this work as a plumbline to our accuracy in evaluating the meanings derived from our approach. The exhaustive scholarship that has gone in to this work makes it a worthy comparison. Any conclusions based upon a word study which do not agree in essence with Kittel are suspect.
  1. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
This work provides a rapid reference for our word studies. It is useful in quickly providing basic definitions of words used with the word study being done. It is also a good reference to double check meanings which emerge from the word study.
  1. A Note about Strong's Concordance
This concordance is such a popular one and again is based on the Stephanus manuscript. While we do not consider this book one of our vital resources, we do include the cross numbering system found in Strong's on the root word outline from Stegenga in case anyone wants to use Strong's numbering system as a resource. Doing a word study using Strong's can be extremely tedious just trying to track related parts of speech. Our word study approach supercedes Strong's in that the tedious research has already been done. Using Strong's would only be a duplication of our work.
7. Another work we strongly recommend is "KJV Hebrew-Greek Study Bible" by Spiros Zodhiates. Not only does this study Bible reference all of Strong's numbers for both Hebrew and Greek words but Mr. Zodhiates also indicates by bold type those words which carry significant theological value and for which he has created his own index of special thoughts and definitions.
If one compares this method of study, described by Watt and Finnestad along with Ern Baxter in Canada, with the method of study used by the Assembly of the Body of Christ, you will find them identical in every way.  This is  because they stemmed from precisely the same place; James A Watt, Ern Baxter and teachings that flowed from the Sharon Orphanage Latter Rain Revival movement. 
Ern Baxter once pastored the largest church in Vancouver, British Columbia and was the primary Bible Teacher for the William Branham Crusades in the early days. Ern was an individual who considered books to be "friends" and felt they could, in his own words, "enlighten mankind about great people and ideas". It was, in fact,  Ern Baxter who encouraged James A Watt to further develop this method of study using John Stegenga's "Greek/English Analytical Concordance", in companion with the other books mentioned. My father, being part of James A Watt’s "team of 40", and our family spent many hours in the basement of Broadway Tabernacle collating and stapling the first version of his book based on these studies.  Being prior to the age of PC's and word processing a large type machine had been rented that would type the Greek words onto the pages. The book was entitled "Through the Word, Word by Word" was eight and a half by eleven in size, red and black in color and had a microscope and telescope on the front cover. These were produced and mailed to churches all over Seattle in the hope they too would adopt this new method of study. 
Watt's method of study was fully adopted by my father, Ramon A Haas, and was used extensively during the formation of the "Assembly of the Body of Christ" denomination. This method of study is still used exclusively today and using any other books or method of study can carry with it the possibility of admonishment or severe discipline by the leaders of the ABC. Nearing the end of my time in the ABC, I witnessed one individual; a newcomer; be chastised very strongly for using the wrong translation of the Bible.  These harsh words hurt that individual so badly they never came back.

Using Watt's study method comprises much of the purpose of the ABC. They derive most of what they teach from these Greek Word Studies, all based around He 6:1-2. This focus on Hebrews 6 is a direct carryover from the Sharon Orphanage days. 
This study in the Greek carries with it much more importance than seeking kindness, granting mercy and showing tolerance and love. Love is the greatest commandment yet it takes a back seat to these Greek word studies. To study and learn is not a bad thing, however when love, justice, mercy, tolerance  and respect for one another takes a back seat to this endless pursuit of knowledge it is evidence there is a great error in purpose.
Who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6 
From my observation this endless pursuit of perfect knowledge through books is to no real profit without the weightier matters of the law; justice, mercy and faithfulness. This ill focused pursuit has caused the destruction of many over the decades and I have witnessed major quarrels develop over the proper interpretation of a single Greek word. Some quarrels took on Hatfield-McCoy status as long-lived feuds that lasted months, or even years, and always ended with ex-communication. The pursuit of knowledge, when kept in a proper perspective, is a wonderful thing, but I defer to the wisdom of my good friend Solomon. Some consider Solomon to have been the wisest man who ever lived. He wrote near the end of his book of Ecclesiastes;
“This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.Ecc. 12:13-14.
Solomon showed he was a wise man because he realized that "
furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Ecc. 12:12
and knew that
"our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Paul emulated these thoughts as well when he wrote to the Corinthians
"Such confidence we have through Christ toward God; not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.2 Co. 3:4-6.
Solomon knew when books and studies outpaced love, mercy and kindness to one another…"there will be many words that create vanity. Ecc. 6:11.

1 comment:

  1. I, Peter H Dyck, am one of the members of this Word Study group, at that time (1973) working out of Surrey Christian Centre, Surrey BC., Canada. I still have Stegenga and Panin's books. I also still have James Watt's Procedure Paper, Method of Correlating Berry, Stegenga, and Panin, and James Watt's list of Research Numbers by 25's from Stegenga.
    Ern Baxter was my Pastor for about 10 years at Surrey Christian Centre.