[Every denomination produces at some time a preacher's preacher—one who can inspire and guide fellow ministers. Such a man was Carlyle B. Haynes. Who of us has not been blessed by the overflowing of his rich life? Author of some forty books and of articles almost without number, this man of God inspired his generation of Seventh-day Adventist workers as few others have ever done. Now he rests from his labors, but his works surely do follow him.
This refreshing memory by Dr. James J. Short, who as a practicing physician in New York City accepted the Adventist message under his ministry, will be appreciated by our readers around the world.—EDITORS.]
My first contact with Carlyle B. Haynes, who passed away about a year ago, was on the eventful evening of Sunday, October 5, 1919, when I attended his initial evangelistic meeting at the Casino Theater in New York. Expecting to hear a political lecture on the League of Nations, I heard instead the then unfamiliar story of Daniel 2. The presentation fascinated me. Then and subsequently I was impressed with the personality of the man. His facility with the Scriptures (though not unique among Seventh-day Adventist preachers, as I afterward learned) made him seem like a walking Bible encyclopedia. The lucidity and logic of his expositions confirmed my faith in the Bible as the inerrant word of God. His extensive knowledge of the Word was particularly exemplified in his impromptu answers to written questions from the audience—always an enjoyable feature of his services.
A Careful Workman
At the time I was a young medical intern at one of New York's leading hospitals. Having attended revival services in a non-Adventist church in boyhood days it was not without trepidation that I made my way week after week to Elder Haynes's meetings. I was particularly shy of personal workers who, I feared, would seek me out and importune me to "come forward and be saved." So I always took a seat at the rear of the auditorium where I could get out fast, just in case.
My fears were set at rest one evening by his answer to a question from someone in the audience as to why he did not take advantage of the occasions to invite people to do just that—"to come forward and be saved." His reply was:
"I know many evangelists do so, and I have no criticism to offer. It may be all right. Nevertheless, if you should apply to become a member of the church of which I happen to be a pastor, I would keep you out—" and here he paused before a somewhat startled audience, and then proceeded, "until I was entirely convinced that you knew the exact nature of the step you were taking. I don't want you to commit yourself tonight, under the impulse of emotion, to a step that you may regret tomorrow. So don't ever fear in coming here that you are going to be urged to join a church. I would rather have six members as a congregation who knew just why they were there and what they were doing than to have sixty nominal members on the church roster. In the first instance I would have a church; in the second a mere sixty names on the roster."
It has often been remarked that converts through the ministry of C. B. Haynes usually remained faithful. He was always a strong advocate of thorough and complete indoctrination before baptism, and his converts were legion.
Despite his forceful personality, Elder Haynes was a humble man. Asked in a public meeting how many souls he had converted, he replied, "Why, I have never converted anyone. I do not have that power. I can only witness to the truths of the Bible. Conversions are made only by the power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit."
Although he recognized his high calling as a minister of the gospel, he did not arrogate to himself any special class consciousness or higher-caste attitude. He ever identified himself with the great "priesthood of believers." When asked what the distinction between the ordained minister and the layman was, he replied in part, "The minister is precisely what the word indicates—one who ministers to others. In other words, he is a servant." He was always available to all, without regard to education, culture, or economic status. This characteristic, coupled with his unusual ability to remember faces, names, and events in the lives of his parishioners, greatly endeared him to his congregation.
Courage and Devotion to Principle
No one who ever knew Elder Haynes intimately, as I did, will deny his moral courage. Articulate and logical in debate to a supreme degree, he never hesitated to express himself on any issue where principle was involved or circumstances seemed to justify an adverse position. This occasionally led him into conflict with others. Such action, however, was not prompted by a desire to find fault or to pride of opinion but to a profound conviction that his position was in harmony with the Scriptures and thus had to be maintained. No consideration of possible personal consequences could deter him from such expression. Although he was not infallible in his opinions, as he was the first to admit, I am convinced of the purity and sincerity of his motives.
Forthrightness With Tact
An outstanding, almost paradoxical, trait was his ability to combine forthrightness with tact. In his pastoral sermons he never failed to "shew . . . [his] people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isa. 58:1). In doing so he was never rude but presented his message so directly from the Word that one was wont to forget the instrument and feel that God Himself had spoken. His sermons were Christ centered, and his technique much like that found in God's message to the seven churches in Revelation—commendation, indictment, appeal, hope.
Clothing his serious aims and purposes was a breezy sense of humor that carried him through many tense situations. An example was the occasion of his visit to the Chief of the Bureau of Personnel of the Navy during World War II. The President himself, as Commander in Chief, after complaints had reached him that our boys were having difficulties, had told an aide to see that the Adventists got what they wanted. Elder Haynes was presented to the admiral, who remarked, "Well, Mr. Haynes, you have built quite a fire under us."
To this Elder Haynes replied, "Well, I ... I tried to."
Immediately all tension was broken down and he was told to "write his own ticket." He thus obtained more concessions from the Navy than he had dared to hope for. Men instinctively liked and trusted him.
Warmth and Affability
He exuded warmth and cheer to the hearts of those around him. This was no play acting, for he genuinely loved people. On many occasions I have seen old and careworn faces light up and glow as, after a long absence, he called them by name or remembered some personal matter of the long ago. Much good-natured bantering went on among his more intimate circle of friends and colleagues. However, with this seeming frivolity, somewhat reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln, he could instantly turn to some serious social or theological subject. In this he was most responsive to those around him. He seemed to require a little gaiety at times, probably as a relief from his more serious reflections.
Reading and Scholarship
He was a prodigious reader and had a well-stored mind. His library must have contained several thousand volumes. When visiting him several years ago I went through many of his books rather casually and was astounded at the ease with which he could give me an account of the content of books I selected at random, together with some biographical data on the various authors. At that time he had seventy-nine volumes on the Holy Spirit alone. His incisive reviews are well known to the readers of THE MINISTRY. His writings ranged from single articles through small monographs to larger volumes. They were, for the most part, written in simple, nontechnical terms for lay readers. A single point was often stated and restated from positive and negative angles for the sake of emphasis. Although factual and thoroughly Biblical, his writings were not in the meticulous documented style of the historian or scientist. They do, however, reveal much profound thought and deep digging in the gold-bearing rocks of the Bible and of theological literature. The phenomenal circulation of certain of his writings reveals how well he succeeded in his objective of reaching the popular mind with the soul-saving Bible truths. They have borne a rich harvest to the glory of God.
Faith in God
Although he had moments of weariness and probably of discouragement, I never heard him express doubt as to God's overruling providence. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" seemed to be engraved on his innermost consciousness. It was an anchor to his soul. When things did not progress as satisfactorily as he expected he waited patiently for God to work.
Once, after he had become president of another conference, I became depressed over the slow progress of the work in New York City, and I wrote him all about the situation, expressing considerable impatience in my letter. He replied in effect, "Don't become discouraged over conditions. God is much more concerned over the onward progress of His work than you can possibly be. Wait on the Lord. If any man obstructs His program, he will be removed in due time. Just calm down." I have had many occasions to remember this good counsel to the benefit of my soul.
Judicial Spirit and Tolerance
Anyone who can pass an adverse judgment on himself is judicial indeed. One time when someone had suggested that he would have made a good General Conference president he immediately replied, "No, I don't think God ever intended me for such a responsibility. Of course, if He had, I would have become president. But with my zealous temperament and desire to get things done at once, I am often inclined to jerk things into place. The slower, more deliberate pace of my brethren is probably better in the long run and certainly makes for better relationships."
The above is not an accurate quotation, but it expresses the thought conveyed. After talking with many of those who worked under him, however, I am inclined to think his judgment of himself severe. He inspired loyalty in consecrated workers to a supreme degree. He was patient with inefficient workers, provided they were striving. The deliberately deceitful and the shirkers he could denounce with the voice of an Old Testament prophet. But on the whole he was constructive in his criticisms and desired passionately to see his workers and associates succeed.
Confidence in the Church
He had complete confidence in the divine origin of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its mission as a response to prophecy. There was no inferiority complex in regard to his identification with it as occasionally inhibits the witness of some church members. A few years ago his negotiations with certain labor unions were written up in Time magazine. One leader, after hearing his expression of principles and ideals, remarked somewhat mockingly, "You people are too good to remain here. You don't belong in this world." To this Elder Haynes was alleged to have replied:
"Yes, I realize that. And we don't intend to stay here very long. But while we do we expect to have our rights respected."
The Indispensable Man?
Indispensable? No, of course not. In God's work there has been only one indispensable Man—the Lord Jesus, the one who took human nature and bore our sins. God can call upon the very stones to cry out if man fails to bear witness. His work will triumph through the weak ones of the earth or through the mighty, as He wills.
Nevertheless, there are a multitude in the Seventh-day Adventist Church along with myself who will miss this servant of the Most High the rest of their lives. He was an institution; one to whom an appeal brought an immediate and sympathetic response; one who, though he suffered much, always had time to hear and suffer in the afflictions of others; one who was quick to recognize and congratulate others on some successful accomplishment.
He is gone. I shall miss him. The words of Elisha on the departure of Elijah come to mind: "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." This may be too eulogistic when measured by cold logic, but emotions often outstrip reason. We can, however, say with assurance that though he rests from his labors, his works do follow him.