Monday, June 28, 2010

Rafters: something I miss

Last week while wandering around the internet, I ran up on the Rafter Angle Calculator at Construction It looks like a nice resource, and it brought back some memories. 

Once upon a time I was a rafter man on a framing crew. It seems far away now. It’s been probably 15 years or more since I did much construction work. On days when I’m not out in the 100 degree heat, I miss both framing in general in rafter cutting in particular. [Actually out in the heat I don’t miss it quite as much ;-) ] 

After finding the “Rafter Angle Calculator,” I did some further searching on rafter cutting. It appears to be a skill whose practitioners are dwindling. Or so they say. Pre-made trusses are one major factor in this. Curiously, while reading about the subject online I didn’t notice anyone mentioning that rafters could be laid out with a framing square. After learning to cut rafters from my Dad, I tried to learn more through reading and practice. One of the best was an old textbook cast off by some school. I’m going to have to hunt it up out of storage and find the title. [Added: It was Simplified Roof Framing by J. Douglas Wilson and S. O. Werner, 1927.] 

Eventually I might cut an entire roof ahead of or at the beginning of construction. In order to not have thousands of dollars of 2X6’s cut wrong, I used a three-part safety system. I laid out the rafter with a framing square, calculated the length of the rafter with a Construction Master Calculator by Calculated Industries* (given to me by my boss), and used a rafter table booklet title Full Length Roof Framer by A. F. J. Riechers.** If these were the same, I was confident there was no mistake and the 6-1/2" worm drive Skil Saw was ready to take its bite. If you find a house with rafters that I cut it will have a pattern rafter (or more according to roof type) with all the information about the rafter – cut, length, depth of seat cut, overhang, etc., as well as a signature of approval. 

Those were the days.

Other info on roof framing 

Roof Framing by Marshall Gross (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Co., 1998)


*The Construction Master Calculator can calculate in feet/inches and figure pitch, rise, run, etc. 
** The Full Length Roof Framer has been in publication since 1917 and is still not outdated.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Desirable word

desideratum noun: Something considered necessary or desirable.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The man and the controversy

W. H. Whitsitt: The Man and the Controversy. James H. Slatton. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780881461336. $40.00. 348 pages. Hardback.

I had thought to write a review of the book above, but my mind has been in somewhat of a fog lately and I haven't been able to focus on it. Instead, I'll make some comments on W. H. Whitsitt and the book, but not properly a book review. For a recent review of the book by Andrew C. Smith, click

William Heth Whitsitt (1841-1911) was the third president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the center of a late 19th century controversy on Baptist history, Baptist succession and the ordinance of baptism.

James H. Slatton follows Whitsitt's life mostly through the accounting of Whitsitt's private diary and letters to his wife-to-be Florence Wallace. Slatton fortuitously discovered these records while on a pastoral visit, and persuaded the Whitsitt family to donate the materials to Virginia Baptist Historical Society and subsequently researched the records for this biography.

Slatton begins the story with Whitsitt's Civil War service under Nathan Bedford Forrest. It is this period which Whitsitt credits as widening his horizons to broader religious thinking.

"The experiences of war were a liberal education to many soldiers...One of the earliest and most distinct conclusions that I had reached was that I had been misled by the representations of the Tennessee Baptist. I returned to Tennessee a wiser and gentler man. I had got my learning in the hard school of experience, and I had a right firm hold upon it. Though it was not acquired from books and colleges it was none the worse on that account. I was now and then mortified by the memory of the rude and somewhat hysterical sentiments, and resolved to lay them aside forever." (p. 14)

What began with Southern exposure blossomed in European light. From the Civil War to the University of Virginia to Southern Seminary to the Universities of Leipzig and Berlin, Whitsitt continued to broaden his views. Whitsitt's personal diary and correspondence reveals he became (somewhat secretly) a quite unorthodox Baptist -- certainly for his time and location. He questioned the exclusivity of Christianity, possibly held falling from grace, did not require reimmersion even from the Campbellites (called it stupidity and sectarian arrogance) and apparently agreed with Crawford Toy's progressive views on inspiration. But it was his accounting of Baptist history that created a firestorm. His version of Baptist history denied the historical succession of Baptist churches from the time of the apostles and posited their use of immersion baptism as a recent innovation. He first broached the issue in unsigned articles in the New York Independent in 1880. Articles he wrote for the 1896 Johnson's Universal Encyclopedia began the controversy and his A Question in Baptist History fueled it.

Those only passing acquainted with Whitsitt will be intrigued by the ironies of his life. The archenemy of Landmark ecclesiology was an early friend to all members of its "Great Triumvirate". J. R. Graves preached the sermon at Whitsitt's ordination. Whitsitt preached J. M. Pendleton's funeral. Yet it was not the southern Landmarkers who brought to light Whitsitt's departure from Baptist orthodoxy. It was Herman Melville King, pastor of the Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island. Whitsitt denied that the Providence Church then existing was the same church formed by Roger Williams in 1638. This brought forth King's rejoinder in the New York Examiner and then his book
The Baptism of Roger Williams: a review of Rev. Dr. W. H. Whitsitt's inference (Henry Melville King, Providence, RI: Preston & Rounds Co., 1897). King's defense of his own church's history (which to this day claims the 1638 constitution) brought Whitsitt's articles to the notice of the Baptist public. Doubly curious, Whitsitt actually took the same position of J. R. Graves on the Providence church not being the oldest Baptist church in America.

It is often stated that the Landmarkers drove W. H. Whitsitt from the presidency of Southern Seminary. It is true that Landmark Baptists mounted an assault on Whitsitt's view of history, and their opposition eventually had effect. But Whitsitt's supporters were actually successful three successive years in beating back Landmark attacks. Rather, Whitsitt was sacrificed on the altar of the Southern Seminary. His supporters lost the will to fight, and evidently thought it best for Whitsitt to go rather than the seminary suffer because of him and his views. Though removed from the presidency of Southern Seminary for his views, Whitsitt's version of Baptist history would gradually become the prevailing orthodoxy. Only recently have historians other than Landmarkers questioned it.

Who was this man who was the center of one of the great Baptist controversies of the last two centuries? Slatton's book attempts to answer that question from previously unavailable sources. Whitsitt's letters and diary reveal a man who regularly criticized his colleagues, Baptist preachers, Baptist churches, Baptist associations and Baptists in general -- he called J. P. Boyce a "dunderhead" and spoke equally unfavorably of other Baptist leaders, sometimes even of his friend and mentor John Broadus. "[Whitsitt] was a complex man..." No doubt! "At one time he predicted Baptists eventually would drop their insistence on immersion - and should. In his most important published work, however, he identified immersion as their defining practice."

"He agonized over the narrowness of his fellow Southern Baptists and whether he could stay with them in good conscience. Later, when the issue was joined, he took his stand as a Baptist to the bitter end - and a Southern one at that!

"He argued that he had been assailed for the mere assertion of a mere historical fact, and that the issue was not doctrinal. Yet he consistently argued that at stake in the controversy was the essential Baptist doctrine of the universal spiritual church, and that it was the foundation on which the Baptist vision of the church stood! - surely a doctrinal issue." (p. 327)

Directly opposite of Morgan Edwards -- who lamented that the kind of reasoning used to deny anointing the sick with oil would lead Baptists to discontinue every positive rite -- Whitsitt believed the abandoning of things like feet washing and anointing the sick with oil should lead Baptists to abandon immersion and strict communion as well.

"The crowd this evening filled aisles and gallery, and the Baptists must receive a position in the respect of the citizens such as they have never held before. I am half disposed to look with better favor upon them, although I can perceive no good reason why they should retain either immersion or strict communion. Still they do retain them, and it would be destructive to say aught against either of them. The time is coming, far off perhaps, when both will be abolished.

"Both of them are according to the Apostolic model--at any rate immersion is beyond any question the Apostolic mode--but so are foot washing, the holy kiss, the anointing of the sick with oil and numbers of other items that have fallen into disuse in deference to changes in time & season. Why hold to those when these are rejected?" (pp. 10-11)

The complexity of the man and his controversy, as accounted by Slatton, will compel the student of Baptist history and theology to devour this highly readable volume. I highly recommend it.

[Note: The index in Slatton's book in horrendous and should be corrected before the next printing. It is usually off by several pages.]

Related at Google Books:
W. H. Whitsitt: the Man and the Controversy by James H. Slatton

A Question in Baptist History: Whether the Anabaptists in England Practiced Immersion Before the Year 1641? by William Heth Whitsitt

Did They Dip? by John Tyler Christian

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


agoraphobia - noun: a fear of being in public places, open spaces, or in crowds.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Great wisdom, power and grace

How great the wisdom, power and grace,
Which in redemption shine!
The heavenly host with joy confess
The work is all divine.

Before His feet they cast their crowns,
Those crowns which Jesus gave,
And, with ten thousand tongues,
Proclaim His power to save.

They tell the triumphs of His cross,
The sufferings which He bore;
How low He stooped, how high He rose,
And rose to stoop no more.

With them let us our voices raise,
And still the song renew;
Salvation well deserves the praise
Of men, and angels, too.

Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795)
Published posthumously in Hymns Adapted to Public Worship, 1817

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Missing 3 years

Shirley Hunt has been missing three years. We appreciate all the thoughts, prayers and help of everyone during this period. The Lord knows what happened; we hope someday we will know.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Around the Web

"...some 'conservative' pundits supporting the repeal of the ban on gays in the military [are]...they're smarter than the Creator...Those of us who believe that God created male and female and that sex outside marriage – adultery, fornication, and homosexuality – is wrong and harmful, are just not being intelligent." -- Smarter than God, commentary by Robert Knight

"Either the government knows how to stop the oil spill or they don't. If they know how to stop it, then why have they let thousands of barrels of oil per day keep gushing out...If they don't know, then what is all this political grandstanding about keeping their boot on the neck of BP..." --
Oil and Snake Oil, commentary by Thomas Sowell

Careful whom you ask about the Obama agenda:
North Carolina Representative Bob Etheridge goes "postal" and sings The Who's "Who Are You" tune

[Add on: "Over one hundred thousand South Carolina voters put a vote in Alvin Greene's column without so much as hearing a peep from the man. That is the cold, hard, disturbing truth of the matter...
Like the idea of a Congressman not actually reading a bill before voting upon it." -- The 'Name Game' in South Carolina by Kay Daly]

Monday, June 14, 2010

Occam's razor

Occam's razor or Ockham's razor. noun: The maxim that the simplest of explanations is more likely to be correct.

[After William of Ockham (c. 1288-1348), a logician and theologian, who is credited with the idea.]

From Word-A-Day: Ockham's razor states that "entities should not be multiplied needlessly". It's also called the principle of parsimony. It's the idea that other things being equal, among two theories the simpler one is preferable. Why razor? Because Ockham's razor shaves away unnecessary assumptions. Ockham's razor has applications in fields as diverse as medicine, religion, crime, and literature. Medical students are told, for example, "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

David's fall

David's fall, 2 Samuel 11:27

How David, when by sin deceived,
From bad to worse went on!
For when the Holy Spirit's grieved,
Our strength and guard are gone.

His eye on Bathsheba once fixed,
With poison filled his soul;
He ventured on adultery next,
And murder crowned the whole.

So from a spark of fire at first,
That has not been descried;
A dreadful flame has often burst,
And ravaged far and wide.

When sin deceives it hardens too,
For though he vainly fought
To hide his crimes from public view,
Of God he little thought.

He neither would, or could repent,
No true compunction felt;
'Till God in mercy Nathan sent,
His stubborn heart to melt.

The parable held forth a fact,
Designed his case to show;
But though the picture was exact,
Himself he did not know.

"Thou art the man," the prophet said,
That word his slumber broke;
And when he owned his sin, and prayed,
The Lord forgiveness spoke.

Let those who think they stand, beware,
For David stood before;
Nor let the fallen soul despair,
For mercy can restore.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Friday, June 11, 2010

Separate Baptist book

Found the following book online at Google books. It might prove interesting to folks interested in Baptist history. History of the Separate Baptist Church: with a narrative of other denominations, Morgan Scott, Indianapolis, IN: Hollenbeck Press, 1901.

I am presently reading
W.H. Whitsitt: The Man and the Controversy, by James H. Slatton. I will hope to get together a little review of it in the near future, Lord willing. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in Baptist history, Baptist controversy, Landmarkism and/or the origins of Baptists. I think Landmarkers and anti-landmarkers alike will be surprised at some of the things revealed in it. Slatton used letters and a diary of Whitsitt, which were previously unavailable to researchers.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Baptist quotes

"You tried and troubled saints, remember your God knows your weakness and your needs, and has promised that His grace will be sufficient at all times. Let us give Him all the praise." -— C. W. Bond, Island City, Oregon

"I learned as a young man, that there was never anything so pressing that it could not wait until all the saints were brought to agreement." -- Stanley Phillips, Quitman, Mississippi

"Wherever there are three or more baptized members of a regular Baptist church or churches covenanted together to hold and teach, and are governed by the New Testament, there is a Church of Christ." -- J. R. Graves

"We [Baptists] make in our Sabbath service almost every thing of the head, and leave little for the heart. The sermon is not only the main thing, but in the view of most, about the only thing for which to go to the house of God. The singing and reading and praying, are a kind of scaffolding built around the sermon. We hire a man to preach for us,—-to do our praying and reading in the church; and a choir to do our singing, and what is left for us but to be mere recipients or critics?

"The sermon is for the intellect; the singing is for the taste, and what is there for the heart? Where is the worship?"
-- Samuel Graves, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1873

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Preaching quote

"The whole concept of 'preaching' as necessarily involving taking a particular text and then developing it for a half hour or more is more a learned activity than one which is directed by NT example." -- Mike McInnis

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Unnamed Women

An excerpt from "The Unnamed Women":

The hand that might have drawn aside
The veil, which from unloving sight
Those shrinking forms avails to hide,
With tender care has wrapped it tight.

He would not have the sullied name
Once fondly spoken in a home,
A mark for strangers' righteous blame,
Branded through every age to come.

And thus we only speak of them
As those on whom His mercies meet --
"She whom the Lord would not condemn,"
And "She who bathed with tears His feet"

Thy guilt and shame on Him must lie;
Then search the past thy guilt to see,
Instead, this sight shall meet thine eye,—
Thy Saviour on the cross for thee!

"The Unnamed Women", Elizabeth Rundle Charles, in Songs Old and New (1887), pp. 46-52

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The traditional month of marriage

...not so traditional now.

Taking time away from solving the financial and oil spill crises, President Barack Obama declared June 2010 as National Prostitute, Adulterer, Pedophile and Polygamist month, calling it an important chapter in the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the prostitute, adulterer, pedophile and polygamist (PAPP) community. PAPP Americans have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life. From business leaders and professors to athletes and first responders, PAPP individuals have achieved success and prominence in every discipline. They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors.

Wait. Where did this news feed come from? Oops; Sorry about that. It is a different group of personal sexual choices --
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender -- that the President is recognizing this month.

Sin does not cease to be sin just because a President declares it to be so. Furthermore, "...all sexual behavior – married heterosexual conduct, adulterous heterosexuality, bestiality, necrophilia, homosexuality, pedophilia, coprophilia, chosen behavior...It has nothing to do with unalterable, unchangeable, immutable characteristics...A person's natural state is that of male or female. From there, people choose what kind of sexual behavior, if any, to participate in." (
Peter Heck)

Wake up, America!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Psalm 81:16

Ps. 81:16
"Be true to truth, but not turbulent and scornful. Restore such as are fallen; help them up again with all the bowels of Christ. Set the broken disjointed bones with the grace of the gospel. Confident Christian! Despise not weak saints; you may come to wish to be in the condition of the most despised of them. Be faithful to others’ infirmities, but realizing especially your own. Visit sick beds and deserted souls much; they are excellent scholars in experience." -- Excerpt from Honey out of The Rock by Thomas Willcox