Luther Martin of Walnut Mountain Baptist Church on the outskirts of Lexington, Kentucky has been released on bond after being charged with vandalizing the church’s 1975 Baptist Hymnals. He subsequently admitted his guilt to TBNN in an effort to get his story out.
Martin was seen by unidentified witnesses entering an unlocked side door of the church in the early early morning of October 31, 2008. Around dawn, Ed Caster, the Walnut Mountain Baptist Church custodian noticed something strange when he came to tidy up the sanctuary.
“I didn’t know what it was at first. I just saw this flash of difference throughout the sanctuary, and then I realized that something white had been taped to every red hymnal in the church,” said Caster.
As it turns out, Martin used Super Glue to attach his “95 Corrections” to every 1975 Baptist Hymnal in the sanctuary. “I’m heartbroken,” said Pastor Tom Presley. “Many in our congregation have worshipped these… um… worshipped with these precious hymnals for over 30 years.”
So, why would Martin commit such a dreadful act? “I stand for truth,” Martin explained. “The hymnals are filled with error. In fact, I found exactly 95 errors that do not align with scripture. I made a list of these errors, typed them out with suggested corrections, and reduced the list to the size of the hymnal cover. I’m tired of singing songs that abuse truth. I wanted to make a strong statement.”
For example, for Song 475, Victory in Jesus in the third stanza, Martin said “streets” should be corrected to “street.” “This error is particularly egregious. Revelation 21 is clear that Heaven contains only one street." Martin took correcting this error further than normal by using a black permanent Sharpie to cover up the ‘s’ in every hymnal. "I wasn’t satisfied with simply making a statement about correcting this error.”
Sample other corrections include:
(487) Since Jesus Came Into My Heart: remove entire chorus; change all “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart” statements to “Since I’m Free in Christ Jesus, My God”
(491) When We All Get to Heaven: change “pearly gates” to “pearl gates”; change “streets of gold” to “street of gold” (See also the correction to 475).
(107) There is a Fountain: change “wash all my sins away” to “wash all my sin away” because sin should not be plural in this case.
Not all things on the list are corrections per se. For example, for Song 85 “O Little Town of Bethlehem” Martin indicated “eliminate this entire song.” “Yeah, why should we worship a town? I don’t see the need,” said Martin.
Martin suggested moving the location of Song 88, “Joy to the World.” This song should be moved from the Christmas section to the Lord’s Return section, around page 129. “Why have a song about the Lord’s return in the middle of all the Christmas songs?” asked Martin.
Maybe most surprising, Martin was able to find error even in one of the very old songs: (37) A Mighty Fortress is Our God: change title and words within song to “The Mighty Fortress is God” to eliminate the possibility of other equally strong fortresses or gods.
TBNN had not yet obtained a copy of the complete 95 Corrections at the time of this article's publication.