Writings of Arthur Custance

Sample of the writings of Arthur C Custance (1910-1985) the Canadian anthropologist whose papers on science and Christianity are characterized by a combination of scholarly thoroughness and biblical orthodoxy.

Of Uninspiring Men and their Inspiring Works

The paper The Place of Art in Worship by Arthur Custance contends:

It is obvious that a man without spiritual understanding can nevertheless read aloud the Word of God in such a way that the Lord's people are blessed by hearing it. By the same token, any great artist can serve the purposes of God with his art even though he has no personal knowledge of the Lord whom he is serving.

I feel strongly that it is always important to guard against identifying a man's character with the use he makes of his talents. No matter how inspiring the work, it is not proper to assume anything about the character of the artist. To state it in slightly different terms, one cannot assume that a life of noble effort is necessarily the reflection of nobility of spirit.


How Did Jesus Die?

The paper How Did Jesus Die? by Arthur Custance looks at whether Jesus actually died on the cross and having concluded he did looks at hearth rupture as the physical cause of death.   The paper's conclusion is:

The unique aspect of the Lord's death lies in the fact that He died on the Cross, but not because of it. He chose not merely the time to die, but He chose dying, when He need never have died at all. He died actively, not passively. He was not humbled in death as we are, but He humbled Himself. He was not offered as the lamb was offered (by someone else), but He offered Himself. He did not surrender to the tyranny of death, but He embraced it. He died with a ruptured heart, but surely not because of it. He was not by nature subject to the law of natural death as man now is, but rather He became obedient unto death. His death did not indicate the final triumph of flesh over spirit, but of spirit over flesh.

In short, He did not "yield up" His spirit as man is called upon to do, but rather dismissed His life voluntarily, at one and the same moment committing His spirit into the Father's hands and passing out of the confines of incarnation into an entirely new level of existence, made finally and fully complete with the resurrection and glorification of His body.

One Man's Answers to Prayer

The paper One Man's Answers to Prayer by Arthur Custance is based on a journal of answers to prayer, both large and small, Dr Custance kept for more than forty years.   The following is one example of the Lord's faithfulness in a very concrete way that occured in the 1930's.

One Sunday evening I went to High Park Baptist Church in Toronto and shortly after the service had started, I suddenly realized that I had no collection money. Actually I had a two-dollar bill, but it was the only money I had to my name. This was enough to last me for a week or more of normal expenses in those days. I was also facing the need on Monday to go down to the registrar's office and pay my ten-dollar examination fee for the year. Failing this, I could not write the examinations and would lose my year. I'm afraid that as the service progressed, I was more pre-occupied with this problem than with what was happening in the church; but I did finally come to the conclusion that I ought to trust the Lord and put in the whole two dollars. I would think that, at that time, five cents was all that most people put into the offering. The plate came around, and there went my two-dollar bill.

The next morning I went over to University College to attend one lecture, since the registrar's office was not open till ten o'clock. On my way over to the college, I met a professor with whom I had been talking about the Lord a few days before. He stopped me and with some diffidence gave me an envelope: in it was a ten-dollar bill, the amount I needed to pay my examination fee. He had no idea whatever of my specific needs.

The Necessity of Jesus' Resurrection

The paper The Necessity of Jesus' Resurrection by Arthur Custance contends that the really surprising and challenging element in the Gospel message is not so much the sacrifice that was involved, but the Resurrection.   Dr Custance writes:

I should not want to be misunderstood here, because without this sacrifice there could be no salvation for man.   Nevertheless, without the Resurrection the sacrifice would have been ineffective.   This is true from the historical point of view, from the theological point of view, and from the experiential point of view.   It is true historically, because, but for the fact of the Resurrection, the Church, as the continuing body of believers who proclaim the truth in each generation, would never have come into being.   It is true theologically, because the Resurrection was the proof, the validation of the efficacy, of the acceptability to God of the sacrifice which the Lord Jesus had made of Himself: it was needed to complete it.   And it is true experientially in that the whole foundation of the new life of the child of God personally is the indwelling presence, the reincarnation, of the resurrected Lord in the heart and life of the believer.

About Arthur Custance

Arthur Custance was born and educated in England and moved to Canada when he was 18. In his second year at University of Toronto he was converted to faith in Christ. The experience so changed his thinking that he switched courses, obtaining an honours M.A. in Hebrew and Greek. In his formal education he explored many facets of knowledge and was particularly interested in anthropology and origins. Arthur Custance completed his Ph.D. at the University of Ottawa in 1959 while serving as head of the Human Engineering Laboratories of the Defence Research Board in Ottawa and was engaged in research work for 15 years. During that time he also wrote and published The Doorway Papers and when he retired in 1970, he wrote 6 major books.

Biography of Arthur Custance
The Biography of
Arthur C Custance:
A Christian in the World of Science

by Evelyn White
published in 2007 by Doorway Publications.

The Doorway Papers were published in 9 volumes in 1977 by the Zondervan Publishing Company.

Volume 4 collected together five of the papers on Evolution or Creation

Arthur Custance subscribed to the Gap Theory, which says there was a considerable amount of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. and that the cosmos, which was originally created long before the creation week in Genesis, became without form and void. In the creation week in Genesis, God "re-created" the earth and told mankind to replenish it.

Arthur Custance's justifies his translation of the Genesis Week of Creation in Genesis, with the fact that one important point of Hebrew syntax had been consistently been overlooked. This was the use of the verb "to be". It is particularly significant in many key verses in Genesis 1:1 to 2:4.

How Did Jesus Die?
by Arthur Custance
The Christian Ring Anglican Deanery of
Perth County