The "Puzzled Dutchman"

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

One of the early Indiana gospel preachers was S. K. Houshour who lived from 1803-1883. He preached much in Indiana, particularly in Wayne County. He operated schools at Centerville and Cambridge City, Indiana, was a trustee of Indiana University, and later served not only as State Superintendent of Education, but also as President of North Western Christian University (which later became Butler University).

Brother Houshour was said to have excelled both Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell as a linguist and "not merely in a knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, or Latin, but in his familiarity with many other languages" (W. D. Frazee, REMINISCENCES AND SERMONS, P. 113). Houshour became well known as a language scholar. He said he got credit for knowing more than he did, for "he only claimed to be familiar with six languages." Actually, he read five languages and spoke three fluently. Nevertheless, Brother Houshour was often referred to as the "Puzzled Dutchman."

On one occasion he heard an Indiana preacher trying to justify sprinkling for baptism. This Indiana sectarian preacher was arguing that the statement in Acts 8 that the Eunuch and Philip went down "into" the water was a bad translation, and that the translation should read that they went "down to" or "near by the water." He then proceeded to argue that the Eunuch was baptized by sprinkling or pouring. He illustrated his argument by the Biblical statement that-Moses went up "into" the mountain. After finishing his speech, the denominational preacher asked if anyone present wished to comment on his learned discourse, at which time the "Puzzled Dutchman" arose and said:

"Mister Breacher, I ish so glad I vas here tonight, for I has had exblained what I never pelieved before. Oh, I ish so glad dat into does mean only close by. We read dat Taniel vas cast into te ten of lions, and came out alive."

"Now, I neffer could pelieve dat, for the wilt peasts would shust eat him right up, but not it ish exblained. He vas shust close by. Oh, I ish so glad I vas her tonight. We read dat de Hebrew children vas cast into de firish 'furnace and dat always look like a beeg story too, for day would have been pnrnt up, but it ish plain to my mint, for day vast shust cast py or close to the firish furnace. Oh, I vas so glad I vas here tonight. And den Mr. breacher, it is said dat Jonah was taken into de whalesh pelly. Now I never could pelieve dat, but it is all plain, he shust shumpt on to his pack and rode ashore. Oh I vas so glad I vas here tonight."

"And now, Mr. Preacher, if you will shust exblain two more passages, I shall be, oh, so happy dat I was here tonight! One of them ish where it saish de vicked shall pe cast into a lake dat burns mit fire. 0 Mr. Breacher, shall I pe cast into dat lake if I am vicked, or shust close by or near to, shust near enough to be comfortable? Oh I hope you will tell me I shall pe cast py a good way off, and I vill pe so glad I vas here tonight. De odder passage is dat vich saish blessed are day who do dese commandments, dat dey may enter troo de gates into de city. Now, Mr. Breacher, if I was good, shall I go into de city or only shust close py or near enough to see vhat I have lost. Please exblain and I shall pe so glad I vas here tonight."

February 18, 1971