Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One Sick Puppy!

Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. Psalm 56:5

A new assistant had been hired by the Presbyterian church of which Glen was a member. A lady who had started to take his course on Isaiah, told Glen she was very upset over what she had been hearing in the first three nights she attended.

“I can’t figure out where he’s coming from” she said. “Sometimes I’m not even sure he is a Christian at all.”

At her request, Glen decided to sit in one of the classes and see for himself. He arrived early and took a seat in the back. “I’m just here as an observer” he said. Glen told me he never highjacked another teacher’s class, although at times he was tempted to question some of the things he heard.

He could find no one who knew the man. All anyone knew was that he was not from the church, and he had been hired fresh out of college.

So Glen was surprized to see a man in his late forties walk to the podium and arrange his books and notes. Mr. Winton had a masters degree, he had told people, and was a late comer to church work, his background was a mystery.

Glen’s first impression of Winton was the lack of life in the man. His body movements and his face gave the impression that he was being controlled from a distance by some unseen operator.
“There was no life in the man!” Glen recalled “A little lady from Texas told me about the advice her mother had given her and her sister.” “Darlins” she had said, “Never go out with a man who has dead eyes. Never even think about it!”

“Her words came to mind as I watched this man prepare to speak. His whole appearance was lifeless. He looked like you do when you just get to sleep after a restless night and then you have to get up and go to work.”

“This guy never made eye contact with his class. He went from his notes to a the blackboard, back and forth like he was carrying buckets of water."

“A good teacher has to hold himself back” Glen told me. “He can be too enthusiastic and distract people from the Word. But this guy sure didn’t have that problem”.

Without much of an introduction Winton began lecturing on Isaiah, chapter seven. Right away he set out to prove that what he called the “common assumption” that verse14 was a prophecy of the birth of Jesus was without basis.

“The passage addresses a local event only and the interpretation of the word translated “virgin” can mean any young unmarried girl. She could even be a prostitute as long as she was young and unmarried. That’s all the word means.”

At this, a man in the audience turned to his wife and whispered to her. They both took up their Bibles and notebooks and walked away.

Glen told me that Winton was passing on what was commonly taught in theological “cemeteries” as he called them. “They tell these idiots what to say and go out and say it. They never think about checking it out for themselves. I guess they figure it’s a way to get a degree and a nice job with no heavy lifting. Help them to make house payments and stuff.”

This night, Glen told me he was going to break his rule “Never contradict a fool.”
“There’s a time to be a gentleman and a time to do what’s right,” he told me. “And sometimes those are two different times.”

Glen stood up to ask a question. Winton looked at him in his distant way. “Yes?” he said.

“Sir, I’d just like to know how you can interpret the word “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 to mean anything but what it says?”

Winton was obviously not impressed by Glen’s presence or manner. Most people were not, upon first meeting him. His clothing and appearance were those of a man who you might hire to do some work on your house.

A man told me one time that he had suggested to Glen that he wear more appropriate clothing to make a better impression.

“Like I give a damn” Glen told him. “If people want a suit they can get one at Good Will, that’s where I got mine!”

“Lucky you caught Glen on a good day” I had told the man.

Winton said his interpretation of the word virgin was based upon historical context. “Isaiah, after all, was written over seven hundred years before the New Testament period and could hardly apply to an event as far in the future as the supposed birth of Jesus.”

This was too much for Glen!

“Far in the future! I thought we were talking about prophecy! The future is what prophecy is all about. God told Eve that her offspring would bruise the serpent’s head. That was a prophecy of Jesus. How far in the future was that?”

Winton continued with an air of strained patience, “All I’m saying, ah mister....”

“Just call me Glen”

“All I am saying, Glen, is that there is no way that anyone of that time could have applied such a proclamation to some future messiah that wasn’t supposed to be born for over 700 years.”

Then Glen set out his mouse trap, or should we say, in this case, his rat trap?
“On this we agree, sir. There is no way people of that time could have understood this prophecy. On this we do agree.”

Winton relaxed, feeling he had scored his point. He turned to continue his lecture, but Glen remained standing.

He told me once, how in a fight sometimes he would pretend to stumble. Then, when his opponent moved in for the kill, Glen would instantly recover and take the guy out. "Let’em think they have you” he said, "then deck ‘em.”

“But,” Glen said, “when Jesus made the prediction “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. John 2:19, even his disciples didn’t understand it. It wasn’t until he resurrected that they knew what it meant. Jesus did not tell them, or anyone else, what it really meant, he showed them. Same thing with this prophecy, same thing. God didn’t explain at that time, clear as the statement was, when it would be fulfilled. But when it was time for it to be fulfilled He showed it was true. Anyone can predict a virgin will conceive, but only God can make it happen.”

Winton was growing impatient, “I would love to continue this discussion at some other time, but we need to...”

“Let him finish!” said an earnest faced older woman, “This is important.”

Winton’s shoulders sagged as he granted Glen time to proceed.

“As for your historical interpretation, I just told you how that is flawed. It is based on man’s view of time. God takes a long view, thousands of years pass as he waits to bring his will to bear.”Glen smacked his fist into the palm of his other hand,”Then, bam! He fulfills it!

Winton wearily started to turn away, but Glen continued.”I also wish to vehemently disagree with your contention that the word virgin can mean any young, unmarried girl. The Hebrew word “alma” translated “virgin" in chapter seven, verse fourteen, corresponds to the English word “maiden” or the German “madchen”, same thing, pure and simple! Pure and simple. Just like Mary herself. Even for those who will not accept that the word in this passage refers to a woman who has never had sex, the context demands it. You have not faced the implication of these words: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive...

“Could anyone tell me how, in your words, ‘any young, unmarried girl conceiving would be a sign? Must have been young, unmarried girls that conceived in those days. But did that constitute a sign? There is only one definition of “alma” that could be a sign, and that is a young unmarried virgin, conceiving.

Even if we concede that Isaiah 7:14 does not refer to the virgin birth of Jesus, and I do not in any way concede this, why don’t we ask Mary? She is the one that had the baby! Guess she knew if she was a virgin! Let’s listen to her own words in the Gospel of Luke;

Gabriel told Mary that she was to have a child and she said,
How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Luke 1:34
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

There, Mr. Winton, is the virgin birth, and there is Isaiah 7:14 fulfilled! So it took over seven hundred years? What is seven hundred years to God? It’s the results that count, not how much time passed before He did it.”

Glen had been so disgusted with Winton that night.

He said to me, “What a sorry excuse for a Bible teacher that man is! If he had been born a dog, his owner would have told the vet to put him down!”

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