Monday, April 30, 2012

St. Therese and Her Protestant Admirer

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Joy rolled up two plastic coated genealogy charts and carefully adjusted large rubber bands around them. "When Glen comes," she said forcefully, "make sure he takes these charts. He gets to talking and forgets to pick them up, every time."

Sue was putting new curtains in the front window, ones that she had sewed. They had little butterflies in the design. You could see in her face how much she liked them.

Joy, however, was not so sure. She liked things plain and dignified.

Sue had just slid the last rod into place when she spotted Glen heading for the little sidewalk that led to the porch of the Oak Street Bible Shop. "Here he comes now!" she exclaimed.

The little bell jingled as Glen entered. "Howdy, howdy," he said in a kind of pre-occupied voice. He obviously had something on his mind.

Joy picked up the two charts from Gary's counter and strode over to Glen. She pulled at his jacket and slid the charts under his arm. "There," she said, "Now you won't forget them this time!"

"Oh, yeah" said Glen, "Thanks." He walked to the counter and asked Gary what he owed for the charts. Glen waited for Gary to tally up the bill and then said, "There's something else I want you to get me. It's a book I read maybe thirty years ago. Maybe you could order it for me?"

Gary turned towards a shelf of publishers' stock books. "Who is the publisher?" he asked.

Glen threw up his hands. "After all this time I'm lucky if I can remember the title," he said. "There's no way I can remember the name of the publisher.”

"It really makes things so much easier for us," said Joy, "if people could give us the publisher. Otherwise we have to look through each of their books until we find it."

"Maybe we can narrow it down by the subject matter,” said Gary. "Is it about prophecy?"

"Not this time," said Glen. "The title is Story of a Soul. The author is St. Therese of Lisieux."

Joy slid off her stool. "Glen have you lost your mind, or is this some kind of joke?" she demanded.

"No joke," said Glen. "But maybe I am losing my mind, at least a little. I hope so.”

"Now that's not funny, Glen," said Joy. "God gave you a good mind and you shouldn't joke about losing it as if it is some light thing!"

"Well, I am not joking,” said Glen, "I just mean I get going on something and then I forget to pause and look around. There's other stuff going on and other people too. I was thinking the other night about her little book and how it
impressed me. I really want you to order it for me, if you will."

Gary put the publisher's stock book back on the shelf. "None of our publishers would carry a book about St. Theresa,” he said. "You'd have to go to a Catholic book store for that."

"I still don't understand why you would even want it,” said Joy. "I am disappointed in you that you treat such a subject with any respect at all. You are always so happy about being a Protestant. And I know you agree with me about how corrupt the Roman Catholic Church is. So what gives, anyway?"

"The Story of a Soul is not about the Roman Catholic Church,” said Glen. It is about a fourteen-year-old girl who only knew about Jesus by hearing about him from that church. That is the only church she knew, and she used that
knowledge to draw close to Him and lead a wonderful life, short as it was."

Sue had been listening with fascination. "Was she a nun?" she asked.

"Yes, Sue, she was a nun," Glen said.

"So a corrupt church produced a wonderful, saintly girl?" said Joy.

"Happens more than you would think,” said Glen. "After all, Paul came out of the Pharisees. And there is no group that Jesus condemned more than the Pharisees. Luther came out of Roman Catholicism,” said Glen. "And as I remember, so did you, Joy."

Joy raised herself up as she glared at Glen. "Yes, came out! The operative word is 'out'," she snapped.

"If you don't mind my asking," said Glen. "How old were you when you came out of the Catholic Church?"

Joy drew a deep breath, as if to contain her impatience. "About thirty years old," she said, grudgingly.

"Therese was dead at the age of twenty-four,” said Glen. "She was in the walls of a strict order, the Carmelites, at fourteen. All she knew was the life of a nun from the day she entered the cloister, until the day she died. That makes her life all the more remarkable in my mind."

Joy was about to speak, but Glen held up his hand. "I agree, the Roman Catholic Church is corrupt. But she found enough truth in her life there for her to realize one of our most prized Protestant doctrines--salvation by faith alone. Although she maybe wouldn't have put it that way."

"How did she learn about salvation by faith alone if she was locked up in a cloister?" asked Sue.

"Theirs was in an order that pursued holiness in an extreme way. The requirements were harsh. She soon found that she couldn't come up to the standards of the order. She would break dishes when she washed them. She couldn't do anything as well as the other nuns. She began to think of herself
as a totally incompetent person."

"I can identify with that," said Sue. "I often feel that way."

Joy rolled her eyes. "Don't tell me you're thinking of becoming a nun, Sue."

"No, but I can see where you could find God that way--by taking time to pray and think about God."

This was too much for Gary. "I always thought of nuns as robots,” he said. "I thought of them praying and saying the rosary endlessly. How boring!"

"Funny you should mention that," said Glen." Therese felt the same way. As I remember it, she thought long prayers were boring. When the nuns had what they called community prayers, she would fall asleep."

Sue was delighted. "She said that?"

Joy climbed back up on her stool with a grim, resigned look.

"That's right,” said Glen. "A lot of her book is about her short comings. They are how she came to God. She was immersed in a culture that taught you had to achieve enough holiness to be accepted by God, and she soon found she couldn't do that."

"Salvation by works," said Gary.

"Exactly," said Glen. "Although to Catholics it is more complicated than that. They say it is grace for God to allow us to work for salvation."

"Huh?" said Joy. I was a Catholic and I never heard it put that way."

"They don't advertise it, but that is what it amounts to," said Glen. "Kind of like telling some boys, ‘Free tickets to the circus, all you have to do is carry water for the elephants.'"

"I do remember saying the rosary,” said Joy. "You got points for that".

"Forgot to mention it,” said Glen, "but Therese didn't like saying the rosary either."

Somehow this appealed to Joy. "Imagine a nun, a Catholic saint, who said she didn't like the rosary!"

"She was different,” said Glen, "in a lot of ways."

"What I don't understand" said Sue, "is how she became a saint if she was so incompetent?"

"It was because of it," said Glen. "She said she had to throw herself on the mercy of God. He was her only hope. A lot of us have to learn that, not just Catholics.

"Since she couldn't do the works required of her, she developed what she called 'the little way'--doing little works with great love. She said it was more important to do little works with love than attempt great works with pride."

"From what I know about Catholics, especially the strict orders,” said Gary, "I'm surprised they didn't just boot her out. After all, she couldn't make the grade, you know."

"Well, Gary," said Glen, "cloister walls don't shut out truth. The Holy Spirit goes there too. Therese's superiors recognized her devotion. They saw her saintly qualities. If they had not, we would not know her story today. After all, the last thing a nun, especially of that order, was supposed to do, was to write a story about her life."

"So how did she?" said Sue.

"She came down with tuberculosis," said Glen. "She woke up one morning and there was blood on her pillow. She knew she was really sick. People just died of it in those days. She was so happy! Now she had found something she could do well. She could die in the love of God, eager to be with her beloved Jesus.

"She was freed from all her labors and was told to write the story of her life. She wrote a journal starting as far back as she could remember. This was edited and became Story of a Soul."

Joy was quiet for a time. Then she asked, "So what did you mean you might be losing your mind a little?"

"Oh," said Glen. "We Protestants forget sometimes that other people have something to offer. We get stuck in our ways and talk our special talk. To me, the warning sign is boredom. I don't know about you, but I am tired of preachers with their preacher voices and spell binding oratory, or their clever jokes.

"Sounds awful, doesn't it? But I am tired of us thinking we know it all. We really need to listen to how smug and boring we are. We need to love more and stop congratulating ourselves so much. All truth is God's truth anyway. We didn't make it ourselves."

"I heard about a man who was held prisoner by some Muslims" said Gary. “He was a Christian, and when Christmas time came around, one of his Muslim guards brought him a little cake. ‘What is this for?’ he asked the guard. ‘It is the birthday of your Jesus,’ said the Muslim. ‘I thought you would like this cake for Him.’”

Somehow this story touched Joy. Beneath her toughness she had a tender heart. "I think I understand,” she said. "The truth is not in us only. God sheds it on everyone. We are just fortunate that His Holy Spirit has given us the grace to believe."

We were all silent for a time.

Glen walked to the back room and poured a small cup of coffee. When he returned he looked at Sue's new curtains.

"Very nice," he said. "Very cheerful. Did you make those, Sue?"

Sue was smiling at the compliment.

"Don't believe I ever saw curtains with yellow butterflies," he said. "Where did you get the fabric?"

"The material is for little girl's dresses," said Sue, "but I thought it would look nice in the window."

"Well, you're right,” said Glen. "They do make the place look more cheerful."

He walked to the back room to throw away his coffee cup.

Joy spoke to Gary. "See what you can do" she said.

Gary was looking in the yellow pages. "How about the Little Flower Book and Gift shop?" he asked.

"Go ahead,” said Joy, "maybe they will return the favor and sell some of J. Vernon McGee's books some day."

Glen came out of the back room. "McGee preached to some nuns once," he said. "They told him they would pray for him."

"Thanks for hearing me out and looking for the book, too," said Glen. "Gotta go."

After he left, Sue walked into the back room.

"You know what, Joy?" she said, "Glen left his genealogy charts again."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What One World Government?

And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. Daniel 2:42,43

Glen was, in a way, two different men. The one most people saw did not stand out or draw attention to himself. That was the way he liked it. He told me he was of humble origins and he was satisfied to stay that way.

Someone suggested to him that if he would dress better and boost himself a little it might help his teaching. He saw through that right away.

"We've got too many of that type around now,” he said. "A teacher's focus should always be on what he teaches, not who he is. My subject is Jesus revealed in history. And that history is best laid out before us in the book of Daniel. Then it is fulfilled in Revelation.

"How any man can call himself a man and not know the basics of this world system and the Bible that teaches it, is a mystery to me. These guys are camping out under a coming avalanche. The rocks are going to come crashing down on their little party and it's all over. How can a man gauge what is important until he knows what God says is important?”

When I asked Glen what God considers important he gave me this answer:

"What you see in the Bible is God's kingdom and God's people. He has wonderful plans for his people--more wonderful than we can even dream of. But he must defeat the devil before those plans can be realized.

"God's Son is his creative arm and his redemptive arm too. We, the church, are His Son's bride. When Jesus says in John 14, that He goes to prepare a place for us and will return to take us there with Him, that tells us how much He loves us and how He is working for us. We Christians should be overjoyed. We should be jumping up and down!

"Forget about this world, and if you can, forget about this world's troubles too. God is a winner. His Son is a winner. And He loves us. He has a battle to fight and so do we. That is what prophecy is about. It is full of battles and it is full of love, if only we can see it."

What I have just revealed to you is the other Glen. It is Glen the teacher. He changed the way he talked and became a driven man--driven to get the message of God's big plans for us into words so we could be happy.

Glen was a patient man. As was said about him, he was like a mechanic, who was careful and thorough, not fast and flashy.

But one thing made Glen impatient--when people go off on sidetracks, side issues. Then he made haste to bring them back to the point, God's work through Jesus Christ. Such side issues came up in a Daniel class that I witnessed one night.

Glen loved to refer to the great image of Daniel chapter two. He said it was the perfect roadmap of the future, if you stayed with it.

A person attending the class raised a question, "Do you believe the rise of the European Common Market is a fulfillment of prophecy?"

The questioner was a man in his early thirties--very earnest, very sincere. But his inflection seemed to imply that he already believed that what he asked about was true. "I have a chart of the Great Image in a book," he said, "that has the ten toes labeled as "Ten European Nations". "Do you agree with that?"

Glen asked the young man, "Do you believe that Africa, or any part of Africa, is a part of Europe?"

"No, I don't," replied the young man.

"Do you believe Israel and the Middle East is part of Europe?"

"No, I don't," he replied again.

"Then," said Glen "You are leaving out two thirds of the image territory. If we believe that the feet and toes are the last stages of the fourth kingdom, or as some would say, revived Rome, then we must include all the territory of Rome."

The young man persisted. "But don't you feel that the European nations coming together is fulfilling prophecy?"

"Not at all," said Glen. "When a new development occurs, some try to make the Bible fit this new development. They try to alter prophecy to fit the circumstances.

"The unique feature of the feet of iron and clay is that they do not cleave or adhere. All the other metals in the image are pure and not mixed with clay. Even the fourth kingdom starts out that way. But first it divides into two parts, which has already happened with the formation of the Byzantine Empire, the second leg.

"Now Europe is mixing with non-European people at a rapid rate. What remains is the formation of the ten toes. And why do we believe the toes are all European nations? Rome was, and is, more than Europe.

"Remember the riddle I asked when we began this study? Who was born in Europe, died in Asia, and was buried in Africa?"

The young man's eyes lit up. "Alexander the Great!"

"Right you are!" said Glen. "Alexander was born in Pella, Yugoslavia, died in Babylon, and was buried in Africa. From birth to death his life spanned three continents. Alexander had no interest in Europe. Europe was mud huts in his day. Riches were in the east and the Middle East. I wouldn't be surprised if the world returned to those conditions at the end of this present time."

"But what about the city of Rome?" asked the young man.

"You mean because of the Vatican?" asked Glen.

"Well, yes. The Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church have been called Babylon."

"Show me the Vatican in the Bible" said Glen. “I know Martin Luther called Rome 'Babylon’. But he translated the Bible. He didn't write it.

"Remember," said Glen with great emphasis, "Israel is the main point in prophecy, particularly Jerusalem. Since God made it His city, the devil and his people have coveted it. As history moves along to its climax, the emphasis will be more and more on the Middle East, not on Europe itself. We can't predict. We can't know the details, but the outline is here," he said as he touched his chart of the Great Image.

"But if everything falls apart, where is Antichrist's empire?" the young man asked. "Doesn't he have a kingdom?"

"He does indeed," said Glen. "Further on he has a confederation, often nations. Jerusalem is in them, that shows more than Europe is in view. Remember that Paul says this man enters the Holy of Holies and claims that he is God? That is in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. This proves that a new temple will be built. There is no temple now and therefore no Holy Place.

"Do you think the Muslims will allow a temple to be built in Jerusalem nowadays? They own the site. Once in awhile there is an attempt by a Jewish group to lay a symbolic corner stone for the new temple, and a huge riot breaks out. But under Antichrist the new temple will be built. Things will change that much.

"He makes a treaty for seven years with "many" in Israel. This is in Daniel chapter 9 verses 24 through 27. Do you see where the emphasis is? God has chosen Jerusalem, and Antichrist will have control over it for a little time. Antichrist is not going into the Vatican or the UN here, not even Salt Lake City. He is going into a building that does not even exist yet, but the Bible says it will be built--in Jerusalem.

"When Antichrist enters the Holy place, it is the ‘abomination of desolation’ that Jesus warns about in Matthew 24:15. The point we all need to remember." Glen emphasized, "is that the center of everything will be Jerusalem. Don't be misled by news sources or even history. The Bible is the only source for this truth of the last days. Everything must fit the Bible or forget it."

"How long will Antichrist get away with this?" asked the young man.

"He has 3 1/2 years,” said Glen. "42 months, 1,260 days. The Bible spells it out, down to the day. Those alive at that time will know how long it will be when the covenant of Daniel chapter seven is made. Antichrist breaks his covenant halfway through the seven years. Here are some references for you."

Glen stepped to the board and wrote the following:

Daniel 9:24-27
Revelation 12:6
Revelation 13:5

The young man said, "It kind of makes your head swim, doesn't it?"

"It does if you really think about it," said Glen.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mr. Brock, Do You Know Greek?

And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, may I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? Acts 21:37

Glen was always taking it on the chin, so to speak, because he lacked a formal education. Besides four years of evening college and a year at the main campus, he was self-taught.

"It's a good experience,” he said. "You meet people who really know things, and best of all, people who love knowledge and want to pass it on. But it is more than knowledge. It is more than a body of information. It is a way of thinking that they pass on. You learn that you need to forget yourself and all your ideas you think are right because you have always believed them.

"The most humble people I have ever known, in an intellectual way, are in colleges. It is the ignorant people who are stuck up. I mean it! Nobody is more egotistical than some dumb-ass sitting at a bar spouting off. But the college boys, and ladies too," he added, "are open to truth if you approach them right. Even from guys like me," he laughed.

Then he drew a deep breath. "Too bad it can't be that way in churches too."

"So how are church people different?" I asked.

"Well, let's try to establish that they are different," he said. "Jesus talked to all kinds of people, and so did Paul. But who did they find were the most close-minded and hateful? Who were the most judgmental and hateful of all the people they dealt with? Was it Roman soldiers? Quite the opposite! Roman soldiers, and Roman authorities, generally, were fair and open-minded. They lived by a code and to them, a fact was a fact.

"A long time ago, some sailor was working his boat around with an oar to turn it into a favorable wind. But before it was turned all the way, he saw the boat moving forward, into the wind--not directly, but at an angle. He tried it again and got the same result. When he tried to show his fellows they thought he was bewitched. The poor guy was tortured with fire to make him admit he was some kind of evil person. But when this sailing into the wind was shown to the Romans they were intrigued by it. ‘Very interesting indeed. Maybe we can use this!’

Somebody found if you tautened up the sail--made it flatter--you could sail more directly into the wind. Later on, a smaller sail, the jib, was used as a helper sail to bring the ship around until the main sail came into
line. Then somebody figured out how to tack left and right and maintain a course directly opposite or into the wind. But the thing is, the Romans would listen to you, hear you out. Is it any accident they built the world's greatest empire?

"And to whom is the greatest book of theology ever written addressed? It is titled The Book of Romans! Now the Pharisees, just the other way! Everybody had to listen to them, honor them, and give them their money. Cross 'em and they would plot to kill you. They were the ones who hated Jesus and Paul and set them up to be killed.”

I couldn't resist asking Glen one question. "If the Romans were so logical why did the Roman church become so corrupt?"

"You might as well ask why a once great athlete becomes fat and lazy and weak,” Glen said. "Water runs downhill, time weakens and corrupts. Just about every system goes bad. But out of the Roman church came wonderful saints and great thinkers.

"It is no accident that Martin Luther came from the Roman church, equipped with great knowledge of language and a good basis for theology too. A thousand years before Luther, a Catholic named Augustine believed and taught salvation by faith and wrote the great Confessions. It makes a lot of people mad when I start in on what we owe the Roman Catholic Church.

"Although I am not one, I honor what God has done through them. I try to be "Roman" about it--look at the facts and not just start in hating. Hating seems to me to be what the Pharisees did.

"Now, speaking of the Pharisees, one of 'em tried to corner me the other day inside the church. They let me use their copy machine and I was laying out my copies on a table when one of their officers started in on me, about what authority I had to teach, what kind of credentials, and so forth. Some of these Covenant kids can get nasty some times. I was afraid he might pick a fight and slap me, or something."

Glen joked because he was secure in his knowledge and calling. He told me once that he was as sure of what he was doing as any man could be.

"I am prepared,” he said, "and they know it. They never challenge me on my teaching--just pick around at little details.” He asked me, ‘Mr. Brock, do you know Greek?’

"‘Only enough to order at my favorite Greek chili parlor,’ I told him. But he pressed his luck. Kept nagging at me. I told him I hang out with a group that does know Greek. I trust them to guide me and they never let me down. They write lexicons and dictionaries and anoted Bibles, and the great Strong's Complete Bible Concordance.

"Asked him if he ever used Strong's. He acted real set back--insulted. Guess guys like him don't have to look things up.

"‘Well, if you ever did use Strong's,’ I told him, 'there is a little number next to each word in each verse of the Bible. If you look it up in the Strongs dictionary section--Hebrew or Greek--it gives you the meaning and cross-references too. Very handy. Same idea--Greek, Hebrew, English--you look 'em up.

"'I don't know about you, but I don't know every word in the English language either. I mean, there are more English words than German and French combined. Depending on your source, easily 250,000 to 300,000. Some say a lot more. So, not being highly educated, every once in awhile I have to look one up.

"'I remember one time I was learning about Calvinism and had to look up supralapsarian. I felt so embarrassed. Should have known it. Everybody else does. But when I looked it up, it turned out I already was one--a supralapsarian Calvinist! Still am.'

"I thought this would crack him up, but he didn't have much of a sense of humor. ‘You don't even have any degrees,’ was all he could say.

"‘Sure I do,’ I told him.

"‘You do!’ he said.

"‘Yep,' I told him. ‘I've got 98.6 of 'em. Sometimes I have a few more when I try to reason with some guys.’"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two Kinds of Christianity

They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to help them. Matthew 23:4, NIV

Glen always said he liked to keep to a schedule when he was teaching. "I stop within seconds of when I say I will, and I stick to the subject so people know where to study and be ready for each meeting.

"But tonight I'm going to depart from my subject. It's a first time for me and I'm not too happy about it. But this has to be done so when we start up again, we'll be on the right track. At least I hope so."

I passed out the lesson plans for this night, plus a short outline called Two Kinds of Religion, as the people filled the seats and settled down.

Glen opened with a short prayer and began his presentation.

"Folks, I want to apologize for departing from my outline tonight. But I feel this is so important that the usual lesson will just have to wait until next week. From questions I have been getting and comments people are making I feel we are in a kind of tug of war, a conflict between two ways of looking at our Christian walk that interferes with our study of the word of God.

"Ordinarily we would not be dealing with the subject of salvation theology, or soteriology, in a study on prophecy, but some of you folks have been worrying about things like, 'Will I be worthy of being in the rapture?' I heard a man say he was afraid his children might be in the great tribulation--things like that.

"One thing I have learned is that before anyone can really study the scriptures they must be certain about their salvation. I mean, are they saved and will they stay saved? If anyone has any doubts about that, they don't have the peace of mind to study the Word concerning other issues. They will subconsciously be thinking 'Am I in this judgement?' Or 'What do I have to do to be good enough to escape this terrible time that is coming?'

"Some folks, I mean members of my own family, are afraid to study Revelation because they think the terrible events in this great book apply to them or their family. That's pitiful! And it is totally unnecessary."

I saw frowns on some people's faces. Some stared at Glen as if they wondered how he was able to read their minds. Glen had the ability to tune in on people--to be in synch with them--and this was a big part of his ability to teach.

He once told me, "I want people to be at peace with God as they study first of all. The only concern I want anyone to have is that they understand the Bible correctly, not whether they are saved or not.” And he added, "You should never assume that because a person has been a member of a church for thirty or forty years that they are born again. Or if they have saving faith, they know they are sealed by the spirit of God. I never assume that."

Glen walked to the chalkboard and paused. “My wife once accompanied a bunch of school kids to an amusement park on a school outing. The first thing the kids wanted to do is ride the big carousel. They scrambled aboard and were happily riding, all except one little boy. He stood back on the verge of tears as he watched the other children going round and round.

"Finally she walked up to him and bent down to ask, ‘Don't you want to ride, too?’

"‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but I don't have any money.’

"Poor little guy!" said Glen. "He thought he had to pay when the whole outing was already paid for.

"Well there are many, many people in that same frame of mind concerning their salvation. They think they have to pay! If you think their churches are going to tell them, all I can say is, Don't count on it!

"They may have a big missionary program. They may go house to house and recruit people year after year to bring in new members. But don't be surprised if the shoe maker's kids need shoes!

"I heard a minister on James Dobson's program tell a terrible story about the death of his son. The teenager had run away from home and was hitch hiking. He was killed in a wreck on this trip, and they traced back and found some of the people he had hitched rides with.

"It turns out that he confessed to one of the drivers that he was running away from home. The driver asked him why. And the boy said, 'Because my father doesn't love me.’ Now if a minister neglects to tell his own son that he loves him, don't be too sure he will tell his congregation about God's unconditional love for His people.

"In a lot of churches there is only one sure way to get any attention. Just don't put any money into the collection. If you stop giving, you'll hear from somebody."

Glen was experienced enough to realize a lot of people didn't like to hear this. And Glen didn't care. "I only care if they can prove me wrong," he liked to say.

Glen stood before the board, chalk in hand, but did not write yet.

"Now folks, I am a Bible teacher, I am not an evangelist. We all have different callings. A dog is not a fish, but a dog can swim, and tonight this dog is going to swim!"

He started to write on the board, but turned away for one more story.

"Now I sure don't want to get into politics,” he said, "Ever. But there is a story about Harry Truman that I want to relate only as an illustration! Some reporter asked Truman what was the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Truman said, 'Both the Democrats and the Republicans want to help people. The Democrats want to help people that need help and the Republicans want to help people that don't need any help.'

"Now don't get me wrong," Glen said. "I'm not taking sides. This was just an illustration about the contrast between two things. I am going to try to illustrate two approaches to religion, including Christianity.”

He turned to write on the board:

Two beliefs, two kinds of religion

1) You are born—you work to be saved—you die and go to heaven or hell.

Glen turned from the board and said, "This one is the most popular. Almost everyone follows this one--all Muslims and an awful lot of Christians too."

The he turned back to the board and wrote:

2) You are born again--you work for reward--you die, (or are raptured) and then you have rewards or you suffer loss of reward.

Glen returned to the podium and read:

"If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved:
yet so as by fire.
1 Corinthians 3:14,15."

"If there is something we should be concerned about once we have trusted in Christ, it is whether or not our works can stand the test by fire. The issue of whether or we are saved, if we believe in Jesus as our savior, was settled long ago."

Glen turned to John 19:30 and read:

"When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.'"

The class was quiet for a time. Then a man held up his hand. "Are you saying works can't save us?"

"No," said Glen, "not at all."

There was a murmur of surprise. I was startled to hear Glen say this, as if he was contradicting himself.

"Without work no one is saved," Glen added. "That is what Jesus said from the cross, ‘It is finished.’ He meant His work. "What the Bible says is that our works don't save us.

"But without His work, no one is saved. Our works don't even begin until we are saved. In a human sense, a farmer can't farm before he is born. And we can't do God's work until we are born again."

"And, just to be sure," asked a young woman, "how do we know how to be saved? And how do we know we can stay saved?"

"I am not an evangelist or a theologian," said Glen. "I am a primitive. That's all I am. But I tell you what I will tell anyone.

"Take out your New Testament and read the first six chapters of The Gospel According to John. Read it. Eat and drink it in. Revel in it, ma'am! Then you will know the way of salvation is Jesus. Believe in Jesus and he will save you and he will keep you saved. It's as plain as that, and as wonderful as that too."

Glen looked at his watch.

"We're about through for tonight, folks. Good idea for us all to look into John's Gospel. That way, when we come back next week, we can return to our study of prophecy. If anybody has any doubts about being saved and staying saved, John will put them to rest. Then they can study Revelation and the other books too, with peace of mind."

Glen and I walked to the parking lot together.

"You swim pretty good for a dog, Glen," I told him. "You must be a Labrador."

Glen smiled and waved "goodbye" as he walked to his van backed in under the big sycamore tree.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Makin' a List and Checkin' it Twice

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Glen could be described as a quiet, gentle man. He often said he didn't seek out trouble. It just had a way of finding him. The trouble on his mind this morning was of a doctrinal nature and he meant to settle it once and for all.

He was seated at the big table in the back room of the Oak Street Bible Shop and had taken a new steno pad from his coat pocket and begun to write a heading at the top of the first page. Just as he was about to write there was the sound of paper being violently wadded up and tossed into the waste can.

Gary, behind the counter, was unpacking a box of Bibles and disposing of the packing paper. Joy, perched on her stool watched him as he crushed each piece of paper and squeezed it as if he was making a snowball.

"How come you wad up the paper before you throw it away?" she asked.

"Oh, I don't know,” said Gary, absentmindedly. "I don't think about it. I guess I used to see my father do it when I was a kid. My mother used to just make a little stack and slide it into the can very gently."

"I think I know why,” said Sue from where she was standing by the front window. “I think there is a kind of anger in it. I see men do it a lot. It's like they are saying ‘Out, out damned spot,' like Lady MacBeth. I see it most when people are frustrated by making an error and they are punishing the paper they wrote it on."

Gary never took his eyes off his beloved Bibles as he spoke. "In my case I guess the paper is in the way. I just want to get to my Bibles." He looked at the packing slip. "Looks like NIV Bibles are gaining on the King James, more people prefer the new translations."

"I know," lamented Joy. "But as long as people read it and understand, who am I to stand in their way? I guess I'm just an old timer."

She turned on her stool to look at Glen. He was writing with his pencil, concentrating, obviously deep in thought.

"Whatcha working on Glen" she asked.

"What? Oh," he said looking up. "I'm making a list of places in the Bible that people refer to when they try to prove we have immortal souls."

"I thought you settled that a long time ago," Joy said.

"In my own mind I did. But it keeps coming up and I thought I would write down every place and look at them one by one. Might even make a little booklet on it and hand it out to people who care to look into it."

He returned to his writing as Sue walked to the window by his chair and parted the yellow butterfly curtains to give him more light. He looked up at her and smiled, then returned to his writing.

Joy spoke again. "I'm not arguing with you, Glen, but why do you care so much about this subject? You know what Dave always says. 'Either way, it won't make heaven any prettier.'"

"Yeah, I've heard that,” said Glen. "But I'm not so sure it won't make my part of heaven prettier."

Joy looked puzzled, and Glen continued.

"You know, Jesus said in John chapter fourteen that he was going away to prepare a place for us. He is making mansions for us to spend eternity in. I think that if any of us do our jobs well it will be reflected in our mansions. My job is as a Bible teacher and I want to do it the best I can."

Gary had finished placing the new Bibles on the shelves behind the counter. He leaned on the counter facing towards the back room to hear what Glen had to say.

Sue stood at a distance, her hands behind her back, like a proud teacher, watching her prize pupil.

Glen continued. "Last night, during Revelation class, the question came up, ‘What about the souls under the altar in Revelation 6:9-11?’ People know how I feel about the immortal soul doctrine and they keep challenging me by bringing up quotes."

"But you always say people should challenge teachers and preachers," said Gary.

"Yes, I do,” said Glen, "and they should. But they only challenge people they disagree with. When somebody tells them what they want to hear, what they've always believed, then where is the challenge?"

"Prove all things, hold fast that which is good," quoted Sue. "That's in first Thessalonians 5:2."

Joy looked at Sue with surprise and approval.

Glen smiled at her choice of scriptures.

"But suppose people did challenge the quotes about immortal souls?" Gary interrupted her. "Quotes they claim are about immortal souls."

"Oh, all right," said Joy "But suppose people challenged the doctrine of immortal souls and, let's say, it turns out we don't have immortal souls. Just suppose. What difference would it make anyway?"

Glen spoke with great sincerity. “I can tell you this. It has made a difference to me. Don't get me wrong, I fought against the idea that we are mortal--that I was mortal. I thought that anybody who even questioned the immortality of the soul was either crazy or just downright evil. I hated 'em."

"I don't hate them,” said Joy, "but I do think they're wrong."

Glen turned to face her. "You don't think they're wrong, Joy, you feel they're wrong. Feeling is what it's about. At least it was in my case, so pardon me for presuming about you."

Joy accepted this, and continued. "But what difference does it make?"

"It must make a big, big, difference,” said Glen, "Because whenever it comes up, some people get really mad, hostile even. You know which ones get mad?"

Joy said nothing, anticipating his answer.

"The ones who get mad are the ones who believe we are immortal. Now what does that tell you? It's pride, Joy, we just can't admit we are clay--clay animated by the Spirit of
life from God--but clay nonetheless. See how the flesh cries out? Let there be no discussions! No one shall be permitted to even question this doctrine! Joy, that is not the Holy Spirit saying that, it's our own fleshly natures."

Joy had turned away from Glen, as if looking out of the front window, but not really looking.

Glen continued. "You know that when Jesus talked about truth, some people got so mad they wanted to kill him. The apostles were beaten and imprisoned for questioning the teaching by the Jews and the gentiles. Don't you see, when you have the truth you don't get mad. But other people get mad at you."

"I'm not mad at you, Glen,” said Joy.

"I know you're not,” Glen said. "I know you are open to discussion or I wouldn't even bring this up with you."

The phone rang, and Gary talked with someone placing an order.

Sue pulled a paper from the waste can and smoothed it out on the counter with her gentle hands. "This is really nice paper,” she said. "It's a shame to throw it away. When I was little I used to save paper like this blue piece and make paper doll dresses with it.”

After a few moments Glen spoke again. "I just want to say that when it hit me that I am just dust or clay, I sure humbled down. It made me feel how little I am and how much I need God. When I came across passages in the Bible that speak of our mortal frames, I no longer thought of them as just figures of speech. I realized they were literally true."

"Like which ones?" said Joy quietly.

"Paul said it so well,” Glen said. “You ever notice how many times he refers to us as clay?"

"Romans chapter nine," said Gary. He began to read: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor? Romans 9:21."

“But that is just a figure of speech!" Joy protested.

"Genesis two verse seven is not a figure of speech,” said Glen. "And why, when the Bible talks of man, does it describe him as clay and dust? Is it too much for us to admit we are just dust, like the Bible says?...I guess it is, it was hard for me."

"Humility. Is that what we gain when we believe we are mortal?" said Joy.

"Yes," said Glen, "and a whole lot more. We come to treasure the resurrection, when Jesus comes for the church. To me, the resurrection at the return of Christ is the great hope. Some people hardly think of it, like the resurrection is just an afterthought!"

"Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and the life." said Sue.

"What is this? Three against one?" said Joy.

"I just quoted Jesus,” said Sue defensively.

"John 11:25," said Gary. “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."

"You're just quoting the passages that agree with you,” said Joy.

"That's why I'm making this list,” said Glen. "I want to find every passage I can that seems to disagree with what I believe. I want to be as honest as I can be. Will you help me? Think of every place there is a scripture that seems to say--or people say it does--that people have immortal souls."

Glen turned to his steno pad and began to write.

"We could make it like the top forty hits--the most used passages," said Sue.

Joy glared at her. "The Bible is not a collection of hits,” she said.

"I assume,” said Gary, "you have the rich man and Lazarus, Luke chapter 16?"

"Just wrote it down," said Glen. "It is the passage most often quoted."

"So, how do you, for the one hundredth time, interpret this passage?" asked Joy.

"Don't want to get into that now," said Glen, "First I want to make my list and make it as complete as possible with your help. Don't want to leave anything out. Number two, anybody?"

"There's a place in the Old Testament about how man's soul goes upward and an animal's soul goes down. Something like that," said Sue. "Would that be one?"

"Very good, Sue!" said Glen. "I know what you're referring to. It's in Ecclesiastes, chapter three if I remember right."

Joy was exasperated. "I wish I knew what you all are up to! You're looking for some passages that prove Glen is wrong?"

"All the passages," said Glen. "Tired of bits and pieces--stuff. I want to take on everybody and settle it if I can."

"I have the passage in Ecclesiastes" said Gary. "It's chapter three, verse 21. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Ecclesiastes 3:21."

"Oh, it says ‘spirit,' not ‘soul,’” said Sue.

"That's all right,” said Glen. "I want every passage you hear used to support the belief in the immortal soul. And that is one of them."

"But Ecclesiastes is about man's reasoning. It's ‘man under the sun’ or natural reasoning," said Joy.

"Depends" said Glen. "People say it is God's truth where they agree with it. And if they don't agree, they say it is just man's reasoning. Anyway it belongs on my list."

"Okay," said Joy, " What about where Paul says he wants to depart and be with Christ? I'd love to hear your interpretation of that."

"You shall, you shall," said Glen, "if God grants me the time. But first I want to complete the list."

"Philippians one, verse twenty-three," said Gary. "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and be with Christ; which is far better. Philippians 1:23.'

"The next verse looks like it supports the immortal soul," said Gary. “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. Philippians 1:24.”

"Thank you, Gary!" said Joy. "See how Paul contrasts being in the flesh with being with Christ? There's your soul!"

"Funny," said Glen, "Paul never said ‘soul.' But it belongs on the list for sure."

Glen looked up at the wall clock. "I need to go get lunch. My landlady is making a nice casserole and I want to be on time. Thanks for your help. We just got started. I'm sure there are a lot more immortal soul passages that belong on my list."

"I suppose you think I should look up all the scriptures that show we are mortal--just clay?" said Joy.

"Mortal until the resurrection," said Glen. "To be honest, I think you should. Look at both sides. You might be surprised. Gotta go,” he said putting on his cap and heading out of the door.

Sue walked to where Glen had been sitting. His steno pad was still there. On the first page were Glen's notes.

Passages in the Bible used to prove we have immortal souls:

Souls under the altar Rev. 6:9-11

Rich man and Lazarus Luke 16

Man's spirit and animal's spirit Eccl. 3:21

Paul's desire to depart and be with Christ Phil. 1:23,24


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"The Past is Coming Bac," He Said

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

It has been said that Glen was deliberately obscure and that he meant to be hard to understand. When challenged with this assertion he would admit that occasionally he would not complete a thought or connect two ideas. "You have to let people draw their own conclusions sometimes".

"When I took psychology in college, evening college that is, we had a teacher who told us to write at the top of our papers, 'Learning is an active process'," he said. “I did that on every test and paper. I remember it to this day.

"I know it can be irritating when ideas seem vague or incomplete. We want to see things all finished, all orderly. So our mind struggles to make them complete. It can be called thinking, which is good, and it can be overdone too. But sometimes I put out a thought and let it just be there, unfinished. Maybe someone will try to complete the idea? They may even study!"

We were discussing his methods of teaching while he was struggling with a stuck door on his old van, parked in the driveway of the home where he rented a room. He could open only one of the double doors on the rear of the van. The other door remained locked in place.

"Should have put some grease on it, I suppose," he said. "Too late now. It makes it hard to load and unload my charts". He spoke of his big foam core illustrations he had learned to make.

He was dressed in jeans and one of what Sue called "his terrible sweaters", with the sleeves pushed up. He squirted oil into the latch mechanism and continued to try the handle, but to no avail.

"Remember when cars had real handles you could grip and turn"? He said. "They had'em on trunks too. If they were iced up, you just pulled real hard and you could usually open 'em up. I'm afraid to pull too hard on these new handles. Don't know what they're made of, but I know they break real easy."

He thought for awhile. "Guess I'm showing my age aren't I? Crabbing about the way things used to be better.

"But there's one thing I don't want to go back to. Getting up an hour early to heat a tea kettle of water to pour on the carburetor to de-ice it. Remember dry gas? Used to put it into your tank. Then keep cranking the starter and running the battery down. Now you just turn the key and it starts right up. Maybe if we could have the old handles and the modern ignition and fuel injection in the same car?

"Oh, well, I'm about ready to give up on this door. Some guy will have to take the paneling off the inside of the door to get to the works. Not me, brother, that's out of my line."

Just then Glen's landlady waved a dishtowel from the back door. It was her signal to come in. She told me once that when Glen was concentrating on something, sometimes he didn't hear her. But he would see the dish towel and look up.

"Have no idea what it is," he said, "too early for supper." He excused himself, took off his gloves and walked to the house.

I whiled away the time as I waited for Glen to return by looking at the yard with its old flower beds. The peonies had bloomed and were dropping their petals. Too bad about perennials, I thought, their blooms don't last long, but
they keep coming back. I had seen peony beds a hundred years old, left untended, but still coming back to bloom as good as ever.

There was an old cistern pump in the side yard. The sprinkling can under the spout indicated that it was still in operation after who knows how many years?

The side door opened and Glen came walking briskly towards me.

"Never guess who that was!" he said. "A lady from the Revelation class called me. I always put my phone number on the blackboard, but this is the first time anyone has called. She wanted to talk about the woman in the basket from Zechariah chapter five."

I wondered if this was one of those incomplete ideas that Glen left people with, and said so.

"Well, I did drop it on them and kind of leave it," he admitted. "But we were out of time, so I had to bring things to a close. But bringing it up has paid off. This lady and her husband have been trying to run it down, studying together. They're using a Thompson's Chain Reference Bible, which is okay, I guess. Joy thinks they are great because they're new. They have a special promotion at Oak Street for them," he said.

"First thing I looked up in it was Daniel's prophecy of Messiah the Prince, Daniel 9:24-27. Thompson says it was fulfilled when John baptized Jesus! I was really disappointed by that. How did his baptism show Jesus as the Prince? They were just guessing.

"Ever wonder who puts these things together? Anyway, Jesus came to his people as king on one day and one day only. When he rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. In Mark 11:10 the children call out that it is the Kingdom of David that is coming! Thompson missed that. Almost everybody does though. But this lady and her husband are studying together! That's what is so wonderful."

I asked Glen if he had told them who was the woman in the basket.

"No," he replied. “What I did is ask them who Zechariah says she is. They had their Bibles opened and she said 'Wickedness.' Told her she answered it for herself.

"Her husband wanted to know if wickedness isn't everywhere? I told him the government seems like its everywhere too. At least its influence is. But its headquarters is in Washington. D.C. There's a bunch of people who haven't figured out that everything in the Bible happens in some place, and at some time.

"Presbyterians are like that. I know, because I used to be one of 'em. I mean, they have salvation theology down as well as anybody ever has in the history of the church. I myself am a five point Calvinist. But these folks treat prophecy, and the kingdom of God as just concepts."

Glen waved his hand around like a bird flying. "Imagine believing that God's kingdom doesn't have a headquarters? Nothing is literal to these guys. If you say something is real, solid, they look at you like you are a fool. Except money, of course, and real estate. Those are literal."

Glen shut the van door. "I give up on it. Wish those panels were clear so I could look inside and see what is wrong."

"Did you talk to those people about Shinar?" I asked. I was curious about how he explained this wilderness place.

"Shinar is Babylon and Babylon is Iraq."

"What about the wilderness idea? Iraq isn't a wilderness, is it?"

"Parts of it are," he said, "And that part of the world has a lot of barren places. There is no way out of it. In the latter days, wickedness has a headquarters built for it. Or should I say 'her', in Shinar. The farther down modern Babylon sinks, the more miraculous its recovery will seem. If you say to anybody today that Iraq's land will someday rule the world, they think you are crazy.”

“They will say it is spiritual Babylon, Glen."

“Oh, yeah?" he challenged me, "What about the spiritual Tigris and the spiritual Euphrates rivers? That's geography man. These super spiritualizers don't like geography. But there it is. Do you think those boys in the theological cemeteries ever get out a map? Oh no, they like to mess around.

"To them, the Bible is just modeling clay. You can make anything out of it. But no matter how they try, they can't make those rivers and ancient landmarks go away!"

"I've got a tough one for you, Glen,,” I said. "What about that depleted uranium all over the place now--all kinds of pollutants in Iraq. How are they ever going to become the world center of religion and trade when their land is becoming unfit to live in?"

"Like I said." Glen looked at me steadfastly. "Get out your map. You know that huge dam the Turks have at the headwaters of those rivers? If they ever let all that water out, there would be a big flood in that flat, flat land. If anything happened to take out that big dam..."

"Like a nuke?" I asked him.

"Anything," he replied. "It would wash the land clean. Old Shinar would have a new start. Nobody knows how, but Shinar will once again be the center of evil, and of commerce too."

"All that pollution will be washed into the sea, Glen?"

"Yes, and you and I know that in Revelation the sea creatures die. But why is speculation, of course. These so-called futurists never get it right. To know the future you have to know the past. It's coming back again!"

We both looked up as his landlady waved her dishtowel. Glen looked at his watch.

"This time it is supper," he said. "See you."

As he walked towards the house I called out after him. "Say, Glen! Speaking of the past coming back, do you think they'll ever bring back wing windows on cars?"

"I hope so," he called back. "I kind of liked 'em."

Monday, April 23, 2012

What a Posterior!

And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. Revelation 17:9

Glen once characterized the greatest problem in his teaching, in anyone's teaching, he said, as having to uproot pre-conceived ideas. Along with it, he said, was the tendency to invent or construct quick solutions to Biblical problems.

"We Americans like quick answers," he said. "We also like what is called common sense reasoning. We have a tendency to look down upon learning. Nowhere is this more evident than in Bible study.

"Yet these same people change their attitudes very quickly when they, or a member of their family face a medical emergency. When someone is injured or suffers from a possible fatal illness, the need is felt for the most learned and experienced medical practitioner that can be found. Gone is the desire for quick answers and the distrust of learning. We want the best, and we should."

I have heard him express this contradiction in attitudes so many times, and seen the frustration of his trying to teach against these odds so many times that I can honestly say it is the one thing that weighs most heavily upon Glen. He is, most times, an even-keel sort of man, steady as a rock. But years of facing foolish and careless attitudes of Bible teachers and students has taken its toll on this man.

"People say that medical people hold your life in their hands," he told me. "Good as they are, they can only do so much, and then your days are over. They can't help you with eternity or themselves either, for that matter.

"Must be weird to be a doctor and find out you have a fatal malady," he said. "You watch the symptoms and can figure what is going to happen to you. This time your diagnosis is not some other guy, it's you! For the medical man or woman, they come to the point where there are no more options. Mankind can only do so much against the curse of death.

"Now the Bible man doesn't have that limitation. In fact he can help people during their lives and prepare them for eternity--a happy eternity filled with great rewards. That's way beyond what medicine can do.

"Now all I'm saying is, why can't people have at least as much respect for God's Bible teachers and preachers, considering the range of benefits that they are capable of conveying?"

All this was said before Glen was to teach a class on the Book of Revelation. He would not teach Revelation to anyone who had not studied the Book of Daniel with him.

"It is necessary to have a good Old-Testament background before you study Revelation,” he said. "You need Genesis too. So many think Genesis is just a bunch of stories that everybody has heard a million times. But where is their understanding of Genesis?"

I was to see a demonstration of the problems he was speaking of later on that evening. Glen was using a basement room with a large blackboard. He loved using blackboards, he said. "I sat for years watching teachers use them, and now it's my turn!"

He had been presenting the persons of Revelations. "Got to nail them down, or nothing makes sense," he emphasized. "And we must not bring our pre­conceived ideas with us to this study. We must draw all our conclusions from the scriptures, not only Revelation, but as many books, as many, points in the Bible as we can bring to bear upon these persons."

His text this night was Revelation chapter 17, and the person, or "personage" as Glen liked to say, was the woman in verse 1, "the great whore".

"Folks," Glen began, "There may be many people here tonight who already think they know who this woman is. I hope this is not true. But it has been my experience over the years that this is one of the texts that people 'already know'. I call this problem of 'already knowing' the carbon monoxide of Bible study.

"As you may know, carbon monoxide kills many people each year. It is invisible, tasteless and odorless so it sneaks up on you and kills you. Often while you are asleep. Yet, this gas is not in itself toxic! It kills because it combines with the oxygen carrying hemoglobin in our bloodstreams and occupies the chemical sites that should be carrying the oxygen our bodies need. CO crowds out the oxygen. It is as if poor little oxygen is waiting to get on a train at the station, but when the train pulls in, all the seats are already taken by carbon monoxide molecules. Sorry, oxygen, no room for you to ride!

"Now, in our minds we have places for the truth concerning any subject. But, in so many cases, carbon monoxide ideas are already there, and poor old truth has got no place to sit!"

Glen proceeded to inquire of his listeners just what ideas they already had about this important personage of Revelation 17:1.

A matronly woman put up her hand. "I'm almost afraid to say anything because you will probably say it is a carbon monoxide idea. But can't we identify the woman, from scripture, as you always say, by finding other quotes in Revelation?"

"Always a good way to proceed!" said Glen. "Which scripture do you have in mind?"

"Well", said the lady, somewhat emboldened by Glen's approval of her approach, "I've read ahead, I mean I've read Revelation many times, and can't we pin down who she is by where she sits?"

"Geography, in this case, is very important,” said Glen.

"Okay" said the lady, "then I think I have the answer, because in Revelation 17:9 it says And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth."

Glen said nothing, waiting for the woman to continue.

"So I think the woman is the Roman Catholic Church!"

"Please continue,” said Glen, calmly. "I'm afraid there might be some here tonight that are not able to follow your logic."

"I think it's pretty obvious,” she said. "Rome, I mean the city of Rome, is known as the "city of seven hills". The woman sits on Rome, so she must be the Catholic Church. That's where the Vatican is, in Rome. It all fits."

"I can sure see where you are coming from,” said Glen. "It is logical, alright."

The woman seemed pleased. She had won the approval of this critical teacher, who often intimidated people with his strict reasoning. She was glad she had had the nerve to speak out.

The rest of us suspected that Glen had just given a poor fish more line, that's all. Yet he was not a cruel man or a rude one. I wondered what he would say to her next.

"We use what is called destructive testing in these classes. Kind of like a little boy with a new toy. He tries to break it--maybe see what is inside. If he can't bust it, it must be a pretty good toy. Let's test your idea of the city of Rome as the place where the woman, the great whore, sits."

Glen walked to the stand where his Bible lay.

"The angel, when he wanted to show John who the woman was, described her as 'the great whore that sitteth upon many waters', Revelation 17:1. I said geography is very important, but so are tenses. The angel did not say where she will sit, but where she sitteth--present tense. I know of no one who believes that this passage was written later than the first century A.D."

An older gentleman interrupted. "But the Catholic Church claims that they began within that time frame. They claim Peter was the first pope."

"Yes," said an older woman, "Even the old Catholic Bible, the Douay, has notes that say the Catholic Church will be the whore of Babylon!"

"Will be?" said Glen. "I repeat, the angel tells John in the last decade of the first century that the woman already sits upon many waters. He further says the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her. Not some kings, but the kings--all of them.

"The angel further says that the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. Think of the scope of her activity and influence! The kings. The inhabitants of the earth. This scope far exceeds any possible influence of the Catholic Church at this time, even if there was such an institution in existence.

"As for Peter being a pope, someone forgot to tell the Apostle Paul that Peter was a pope or even had top authority. Paul in no way yielded to Peter. Look it up.

"Now, we have spoken of the time when the whore has ruled. We have talked about the scope or extent of her influence--both far beyond that of the Catholic church, even at the peak of its power. Now let us look at the area from which she rules. Geography again.

"Let us look at Revelation 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman....".

Glen was driving his point home. He could be so eloquent in his teaching that you forgot his humble appearance. And he was so sincere in his love of the scriptures that people forgot their resentment when he contradicted their ideas.

"Was the city of Rome in the wilderness? Has it ever been? Has the Catholic Church ever ruled all of the kings of the earth from the wilderness?"

All were silent for a time.

Then the woman who had cited the old Catholic Bible spoke. "But what about the Catholic Bible saying the Catholic Church
is the whore of Babylon?"

"Are we saying this is true because the whore says it is?" asked Glen. "They are simply wrong. What evidence do they give? It is a notation, not scripture. It is a perverse distortion of their idea that, good or evil, they are the
only true church. If the whore is the church, then she is a Catholic Church! That is their logic.

"Folks, I am saying that any identification of the Roman Catholic church as the woman of Revelation is contradicted by the time, the extent of influence, and the geographic location.

"It is a construct, made of parts, but not supported by any scripture." "But I want to thank you for bearing with me and allowing me to thrash around with these ideas.”

A young man raised his hand. "I'm not saying I disagree with what you said about Rome and the Catholic Church. But if the woman isn't the Catholic Church, who is she?"

"That's what we're here to find out,” said Glen. "But before we try to identify who she is, we needed to say who she is not. Please turn with me to the book of Zechariah."

There was a rustling of pages and whispered consultations. "Where did he say?" And so forth.

Finally, when everyone had turned to Zechariah, Glen spoke. "Chapter five, and I'll begin at verse five...

Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.
And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.
And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.
And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst
of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.
Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these
bear the ephah?
And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.
Zechariah 5:5-11.

"There's your woman, and there's your geography", said Glen. . "The prophet doesn't ask who she is. He only asks where the stork-winged women are taking her."

The woman who thought that the whore was Rome spoke. "But where is Shinar?" she asked.

"Ah," said Glen, "it is the original name in the book of Genesis for Babylon! The woman in Revelation does not sit upon seven mountains all at once. She sits upon one mountain at a time. Wherever world power is, there she sits.”

Glen walked to the blackboard. He drew a series of seven rounded hills across the board.

"Here are the nations which have held sway over God's people Israel."

Starting from left to right, he wrote" Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. And for the seven mountains he wrote, revised Rome, the final kingdom of the Times of the Gentiles.

"This final kingdom is the same as the ten toes of the image of Daniel chapter two."

"But," objected someone. "Daniel only has four. Revelation has seven. What gives?"

“Daniel gives the nations that rule over Israel from the time the Davidic kingdom fell, until Jesus returns. Revelation gives all the nations that have ruled over Israel since the beginning of Israel in Egypt. Daniel is about the Kingdom of David--a shorter time--but of vital importance.

"As for the woman sitting on the seven hills of Rome? You can sit on Mt. Shasta and you can sit on Mt. Wilson. But you can't sit on them at the same time. The wicked woman can't sit on seven hills at one time. I mean, What a posterior!"

Glen was not above such ridiculous figures of speech. "They may groan at my crude remarks," he said, "but they remember them."

"Was it a good class tonight, Glen?" I asked him later. "I mean people did bring up some of those pre-conceived ideas that bother you so much."

"Yes, they did," he admitted. "But you could feel them think, couldn't you? That is all I ask. That is what it is all about."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our Blind Spots

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Proverbs 9:8

His landlady told me that Glen was in the backyard somewhere, so I walked down the gravel driveway where I found him sitting on the steps of the sun porch. Next to him on the steps was an upturned box lid containing a number of the metal belt buckles he favored and an open can of Brasso.

He dipped one of the belt buckles into a container of water to rinse it and was carefully wiping it with an old dish towel when he must have heard my steps on the gravel.

He looked up at me with a rather sheepish smile. "Well, you caught me spiffing up, didn't you?" he said. "You know I used to get so tired of doing this when I had to, but now that I don't have to any more, I actually enjoy it."

I noticed there were both brass and silver colored buckles.

He said, "The white ones are steel of some kind and, of course, the yellow ones are brass, or brass plated. You know me, I could care less about appearances, and I’m no fashion guy. But Sue saw me wearing khaki trousers with one of these." He held up a silver buckle. "And she told me I should always wear brass buckles with khaki and silver buckles with black trousers."

I couldn't help kidding him a little about letting Sue nag him.

Glen shook it off. "Oh, maybe she does, a little, but I don't mind. I figure she knows about clothes and things like that, so I take her advice. I figure everybody knows some things we don't, and we should listen to them and learn from what they know. No matter how much we think we know, we all have our blind spots in some areas."

He pointed to his van parked in the driveway. "See that dent in the middle of the back bumper? I was backing up one day and the rear windows were fogged up. I checked both my side mirrors and slowly backed up. All of a sudden I felt this big thud and I had backed into a light pole. I bet I've seen a dozen of these vans with that same dent! There's a place you just can't see on this model.

"No real harm done, just to my pride. But it taught me a lesson. It is the same with our minds."

Glen continued. "We think we know stuff and we don't sometimes. Just like these buckles, same as that bumper. We all have blind spots."

"Do you have blind spots, Glen?”

"Oh, yeah!" he said with emphasis. "I mean in my personality. Joy says I'm too harsh with people. Sue gets me on my appearance. She says I look kind of rumpled all the time. I figure they're both right.

"But you know what really bothers me? It's the blind spots in my Bible interpretation--my teaching. I worry about that all the time. There are truly great teachers and authors. They can be straight as an arrow 95 percent of the time. Then they will say something you just can't believe they're saying.

"Take McGee, I really love that guy. To me he's the best. Down to earth, original, and has scholarship too. But when he talks about the doctrine of election he will contradict himself in two consecutive sentences. I hate to hear it.

"John MacArthur is a good interpreter--a good preacher. His annotated Bible is good too. John really respects R.C. Sproul. Actually, they are personal friends. But R.C. interprets the millennial temple in Ezekiel 40 through 48 as entirely spiritual, not literal.

"To me that is hard to believe--that anyone would miss that it is literal. I mean, does a spiritual temple have instructions on priestly garments and hair cutting? All the dimensions are given, even the thickness of the walls. God went into great detail to describe a literal, future temple in eight chapters. John says he has talked to R.C. about this, but R.C. just can't see it.

"My point is, there are really great teachers who still have areas they don't understand, or that they misunderstand. Wouldn't it be great if they would listen when somebody tries to correct them? We all should listen to people who have ideas we disagree with. That's all I'm saying."

By now Glen had finished polishing all the buckles and placed them right side up in the box lid. They gleamed in the sun.

"I pray to God that he will guard me from ever trying to teach about things I don't understand. If I have doubts about a subject, I avoid it."

"By the way," Glen said, "Do you know the definition of a bachelor?"

I shook my head "no".

"Well," said Glen, "A bachelor is a man who has faults he is not aware of."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stabbing the Evil King

So the children of Israel served Eglon the King of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer... Judges 3:14,15

Not long ago a discussion concerning violence took place in the Oak Street Bible Shop. It seems like an unlikely topic perhaps for these gentle people, but one thing you learn is that if you spend enough time at this establishment, almost any subject will come up, and get a thorough treatment too.

Joy was lamenting the violence on television and the popular video games based on combat and other forms of mayhem. "A child today can't escape violence it seems," was her complaint. "Parents give these bloodthirsty games to children at Christmas! Can you believe it!"

Gary had to chime in. "Before the kid gets his game, there is the violence in the stores when a hundred people want to buy them and they only have twenty-five of the latest model. Parents fighting to get the last games before Christmas day. Now there's real violence."

"Oh, Gary," Joy said, "You're not taking this seriously. I'm not kidding. What kind of game gives you points for killing people?"

"Well, lets see," Gary began, "There's Mortal Kombat, and there's Killing Spree, and...”

"Gary, you're hopeless!" said Joy. "This is serious".

Sue came up with her contribution. "H. Rap Brown said, "Violence is as American as apple pie."

"You too!" Joy was really angry now. "Can't anyone see what I'm saying? Do we want a generation to grow up learning about violence instead of learning how to live together in peace?"

Glen had been taking this all in from his corner. He was unable to concentrate on the book he was browsing and placed it back on the shelf.

"I hear you, Joy. Though these games are supposed to be make believe, at least one military expert has said games desensitize young men to killing to the point that they don't even think before they pull the trigger. They often think it is just a game to really kill people.

"About 90 per cent of casualties in modern warfare are civilians, and most of these civilians are children. When you see men tossing childrens' bodies into a dump truck after an incident you get a different perspective on violence. If people were on the receiving end they would change their minds about the glories of warfare."

"You're not against all killing are you, Glen?” asked Gary.

Gary had once told us he couldn't stand to kill one of his father's Leghorns when she stopped laying eggs.

"No way I'm against killing", said Glen emphatically. "It's just that the wrong people suffer and die in almost every case. A lot of people balk at killing in the Bible.

"Unbelievers like to cite examples of violence in the Old Testament that is sanctioned by God. They call him a bloody God--one they could never believe in. Someone asked Woody Allen what were his thoughts on the numbers of people killed in the Holocaust. He said ‘I believe records were made to be broken.’”

Joy was not happy about this conversation. The whole idea of violence chilled her and she said so.

Glen brought up the example of a young mother he knew who felt the same way. "She had a child about two years old. I asked her what she would do to protect her child. ‘Anything,’ she said. ‘There's nothing I wouldn't do to protect my little boy.’

"Yet these same people, like this good woman, would never have a gun in their house. The Bible teaches that weapons and their use have a place, sanctioned by God. The Old and New Testament teach that. Of course a lot of people don't want to hear about it. Gary would you read from Luke 22 about Jesus advising his men to buy swords? I don't remember the verse."

Gary found the tab for Luke and opened his MacArthur Study Bible. Soon he found verse 35 where Jesus is warning the disciples of the perils that lay ahead for them.

And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
Then he said unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Luke 22:35,36

"Notice how Jesus says, 'But now'. We're out of the Sermon on the Mount at this time. A lot has changed in a few years and it's a whole new situation."

"Keep on reading,” said Sue.

"But later on, when Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus, Jesus rebuked him," said Joy.

"Peter had been told that Jesus must die. You can't reverse the will of God with a sword. That is what Jesus meant when he warned about living by the sword. Some things must be allowed to happen, and reaching for your sword is not the answer then.

"Talleyrand told Napoleon, ‘You can do many things with bayonets, sir, but you can't sit on them.’ He was telling Napoleon that conquering is one thing, but administration is another."

Joy was truly puzzled. "I don't see which way you believe", she said. "When did God ever sanction the use of violence?...Of course, in the conquest of the Holy Land."

"And its maintenance," said Glen. "But let's look at a specific case where God raised up a man to kill an evil king, to rescue his people."

Glen asked Gary to read from Judges chapter 3. "Notice that God directs the whole operation and its aftermath," said Glen. "And notice the exact depiction of the weapon and how it is used. I believe it is the first mention of a cross-draw holster in all of history."

Gary began to read:

"So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges , of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.
And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.
And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.
And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.
When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.
And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.
And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.
And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.
And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.
And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.
So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.
Judges 3:14-30."

"What a gift!" said Joy.

"A gift from God," Glen said.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"We're Full of Wrong Ideas," Said Glen

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Romans 8:7

Joy asked Glen, "What is the hardest part of teaching?"

"That's easy,” he said. "Clearing the land so you can plant."

He paused for the words to sink in. It was a trick of his to start with a general statement and let a question arise in the hearer's mind. Then he would come back with a clarifying statement. Gary brought this to his attention once and he did not deny it.

"It's a Biblical idea,” he said. "Introduce an idea with a question or a general statement. Then go over the details as you proceed. Lots of people make the mistake of trying to study the Bible in little bits and pieces, and then they try to put the pieces together. We need to go for the big picture first. That's what God does."

Gary asked him for an example.

"If a man die, shall he live again? Job. 14:14.

"There is so much in that simple question," he said with feeling. "It states that we do die--a revolutionary idea to mankind. Everybody knows we don't die. Heck, the devil told Eve, 'Ye shall not surely die' in Genesis 3:4. That's what people believe.

"No trouble for people to believe the devil! They were born and raised to believe the devil." But Job asks, 'Shall he live again?' Job knows we die. But he goes on to tell how he will wait for God to make him live again. Job talks about resurrection. That's the way we get eternal life. But I'm way off what you asked me about."

Glen had come into the Oak Street Bible shop in a rather somber mood. Not sad, but almost discouraged, which was highly unusual for him.

Sue had not said a word. She gazed at Glen with concern in her eyes. When Glen was down, she was down too.

Gary was serious as he looked at Glen. "This teaching business is not getting you down is it, Glen?"

Glen answered cheerfully. "Teaching? Oh, no. never! I hope to be teaching until I die. No, it's not teaching, but the process of clearing the land, like I said."

He saw Sue's worried Gaze and sought to dismiss any concern of hers. "Maybe I'm making too much of it. It's just that before you can even hope to teach, you have to root out the foolish ideas we all have. That's the number one problem, or task of every teacher.

"You know, when the Ohio Territory was being settled, before planting could begin, they had to clear away a lot of trees. One of the great forests of the world was there. It was said a squirrel could cross that whole forest hopping from branch and never come to the ground until he got to the Mississippi River."

"I'll bet he would be one tired squirrel," said Sue, playfully.

"Like, sometimes I'm one tired teacher,” said Glen, smiling at her. "But clear the land they did. Today, some of that land is going back into forest. My father's homestead is still there, but the fields he once planted are filled with trees again. Guess bad ideas are like that too. They will grow back up if you don't keep clearing them out.

"That really is a poor comparison,” he admitted. "Trees are wonderful. Maybe I should have said weeds."

Joy could lock horns with Glen on occasion, but today she was worried about "the old warrior", as she often called him. She leaned out from her stool and looked at Glen's face. "So, is there any specific thing that has you down?" she asked. "Some dumb thing someone said or something?"

"Oh, no, Joy. I wish it were something specific. I could address that. It's what I do. But there is a steady undercurrent of fleshly thinking in the way we all think. It gets in the way of God's truth. You can't get the truth in until you get the lies out. That's the problem! It's not ignorance. That's easy to take care of. It's things in our minds, our human nature, and what we have all been told, that are not true. They're like burrs, easy to pick up, but hard to get out."

Glen was going into one of his famous "raves". He was not angry, just revving his engine--his mind. For all of us who knew him, this was a good sign. As long as he was thinking, we knew he would be okay. He had a way of pulling the oddest ideas out of his mind, his "attic", he called it, and putting these things to use as illustrations.

"We're full of dumb ideas and images,” he went on. "Like Davy Crockett's coonskin hat!"

Joy was startled by this. What could he be talking about?

Glen went on. "Davy would never wear such a hat. He wore a felt hat, like they all did in those days. If he ever showed up in such a hat they would figure he'd been out in the sun too long. Fess Parker could get away with it, he had the macho to carry it off. But believe me, Davy wore a felt hat, like all the frontiersmen did. Imagine what a coonskin hat would be like in the rain, all soggy and wet, like a big sponge on your head."

Sue giggled at the thought of a big wet fur hat.

Glen was not through. "A friend of mine wanted to shoot the Chain of Rocks dam on the Mississippi. Not the canal, the dam! It can be done, but it's tricky. He wanted to modify his canoe so it would right itself if it capsized.

"He did some research on British lifeboats. He found out that many years ago, the average life of an English packet or passenger boat was six months! They would make as many trips as they could, carrying people and goods, then they would run aground or break up on the rocks. A lot of lives were lost.

"People on the land would see people in the water and couldn't help them. Rowing boats, manned lifeboats, would be launched from shore and often they, too, would capsize and their crews would die too.

"Well, the British Admiralty offered a big cash reward to any inventor who could design a really safe rescue boat. It had to withstand being submerged upside down, then rise to the surface, right itself, and drain all the water out--be self-bailing! People said it couldn't be done.

"But a naval architect did it. He designed a boat with airtight compartments in each end. The airtight compartments made the boat rise when submerged. These ends were built up higher than the rest of the boat. If the boat were upside down it would roll off these elevated compartments. To complete the roll to the upright position, the boats were to have weighted keels to turn the boat right side up."

Gary had been following all this with keen interest, but he had a question. "But how could the boat bail itself out?"

Glen smiled with satisfaction at the question. He loved to tell about this wonderful life-saving invention. "The deck of the boat was built up higher than the waterline of the boat. There were drain tubes in the bottom of the boat. The seawater drained out of these tubes like water leaving a bathtub.

"Later, ball valves were added, so when a heavily loaded boat surged, no water would come back up. They gave these boats a thorough test, loading them with stone ballast and hauling them under with tackle and releasing them. The design worked just as was expected. My friend says they are still in use today. The architect's reward was sufficient to buy a nice farm.

"My friend used the watertight compartments and the heavy keel on his canoe. He made the keel detachable for after he went through the rock dam. He tested it in a friend's swimming pool. It surfaced and righted itself, but he didn't make it self-bailing. ‘You don't need that on the river,’ he said. 'Just so you stay afloat, it's okay.’

"Well, after his successful try out, he told his family about his canoe that was unsinkable. Do you know what they said to him?"

Gary had a gleam in his eye as he spoke. "Unsinkable? That's what they said about the Titanic!”

"Exactly!" Said Glen. "You can count on it, every time! No matter what invention there is, what advancement in knowledge or learning there is, someone will spout off with an old motto to show you that you are wrong. People do not think. They refuse to think. They are like a candy machine. Pull the lever and out comes your candy bar. It's automatic."

After this tirade, Glen walked to the table with the coffee urn and sat down. He was quiet again, probably thinking of how hopeless it seemed to try to break through the human barriers to learning.

Joy turned on her stool to speak to him. "Are you kind of disgusted with people sometimes?” she asked.

"No, not at all, Joy," he said. "I had the same problem. We all do. I had to unlearn so much when I was a young man, I thought I would never learn what is true." he poured himself a small cup of coffee and sat in silence.

Sue stepped quickly to her large purse hanging from the coat rack, and took out a plastic bag of cookies. She walked to Glen's chair.

"Speaking of treats!" she said brightly. Then she made a motion pretending that she was putting a coin in a vending machine. "Ka-ching!" She sounded it out. "Here's something for you!"

Glen took the bag she held out to him, then opened it.
The aroma of anise cookies came out. He pulled out one that was a snowman.

"Thank you so much, Sue. Boy, these really take me back! We used to have them in the old days, at Christmas time. I almost forgot how much I like them."

Sue was happy to hear these words of appreciation. "Are you going to be all right?" she said.

"How could I not be, when you are so nice to me?” He dunked the head of the snowman into his coffee cup.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ten Kings, But Who Are They?

Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Daniel 2:34

It was always a pleasure to observe Glen when he taught, especially when he taught Daniel, the book so loved by him. I was content to sit in the back and monitor, after I had helped pass out his literature.

When I picked up a stack of his handouts, he leaned towards me and said, "We've got a spy in the group--the kid at the end of the front row. He didn't register for the class so he's probably on leave from the seminary. The big guys send them around to heckle me once in awhile."

I noticed that the young man he had indicated was already holding some papers in his lap when I came to him.

Glen had his chart of the Great Image on the easel and was showing the succession of kingdoms, starting at the top with Babylon, then bringing his arm down to show Medo-Persia, Greece, and then the Fourth Kingdom, usually labeled Rome.
Tonight Glen was emphasizing the legs of the image.

"Let me remind you that this image represents a time line that goes from top to bottom. At any point of the image horizontal features exist during the same time period. An example is the chest and arms of silver. Although they have been said to be two kingdoms that follow one another, they are on the same part of the time line, side by side."

The young man Glen said was a spy spoke up. "But Media and Persia are two different nations", he said. "How can you say they are only one?"

The heckling had begun. I was eager to see how Glen would handle this challenge.

He began, "I never said they were one nation, and neither does the Bible. In fact, the Bible graphically presents them as two arms joined at the chest. But these two nations ruled together and they had a unified law by which they governed. The Bible calls it the law of the Medes and Persians. One law for two nations.

"And, remember, they are both made of silver. In the image, metals identify the kingdom, the form of the statue shows the type of governmental organization."

As he spoke these last words, a woman in the front row bent her head over and wrote them in her notes.

The spy was not quitting. "Where does it say the law of the Medes and Persians?" he challenged.

There was a little murmur as people anticipated Glen's response.

"Daniel chapter six, verse eight, '...according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.' The reason I can quote that without looking it up is I get that question a lot".

Glen turned back to his chart. He was pointing to the part of the image where the two legs were shown when the spy spoke again.

"The legs of iron can't represent Rome," he said petulantly. "Rome never divided, it just fell!"

Glen, who often answered a question with another question, looked hard at the young man. "Haven't you ever heard of the Byzantine Empire? Or maybe they don't teach that in your theological cemetery?"

"It's seminary!" retorted the spy.

"Yeah," said Glen with a half smile. "Well, Rome certainly split into two parts and each had a different religion. Byzantium had their own Eastern Church. Historically, especially Biblically, it was not that long ago"

Glen wanted to emphasize the feet and especially the toes of the image. He found there was much misinformation on this part of prophecy, especially in the church. The amillennial "boys" as he called them, hated the Book of Daniel anyway, but especially where it showed that their church was not the kingdom of God already set up on the earth.

As he was speaking about the legs of iron, a hand went up. A middle-aged man asked, "You said the division in Rome was two religions. Does Rome represent the church, as in the Roman Catholic Church?"

Again, Glen rose to the occasion. These were the questions he loved to hear. It meant that people were thinking, and such questions allowed important points to be brought out in detail.

He smiled as he began to answer. "This is so important! I must emphasize that the fourth kingdom is not a religion, not the church. But the fourth kingdom has a religion. It has had paganism, with many gods, small 'g', and has been the seat of Christianity for a long time. Then another branch of the church, developed and Byzantium was its home.

"Please don't ask me for details on Byzantium. One of the definitions of the word "Byzantine" means "complex, hard to follow. So we're talking about two parts of Rome with two major branches of the church. That is, state churches, official religions.

"Like the Medo-Persian Empire, we had, once again, a dual empire. But unlike the Medes and Persians they did not have one law. The Great Image shows the downward course of government. The progression of metals is that they are less and less valuable, but stronger and stronger, until the clay comes in.

"With all this in mind we can see the background of nations and geographical areas out of which the toes arise. As the church, we are in the image time-wise, but not as a physical feature of the image. The church is not an empire or a nation, but it exists within empires and nations.

"Now, concerning the toes, they have yet to emerge. But we know where they will be. We just don’t know the exact divisions of the fourth kingdom. It looks like there will have to be a lot of consolidation because there are a lot more than ten at this time. Maybe, some day soon, Spain and Portugal would come together, say, but I'm just trying to picture how the number could be ten.”

"I have to disagree!" It was the young "cemeterian" for what turned out to be his last interruption. "We were taught that these ten nations are historical and already exist. May I read you my material?"

Without waiting for a reply, he rose from his chair, a handsome, earnest, young man in a blue suit jacket and jeans, very cool and preppy. He half-turned to the people of the class and began to read.

"1 .The Saxons, originating the English nation.
2. The Franks, originating the French nation.
3. The Alamanni, originating the German nation.
4. The Visigoths, originating the Spanish nation.
5. The Suevi, originating the Portuguese nation.
6. The Lombards, originating the Italian nation.
7. The Burgundians, originating the Swiss nation.
8. The Heruli, who have since disappeared.
9. The Vandal, who have since disappeared.
10. The Ostrogoths, who have since disappeared.
There are your ten toes!"

Glen was not impressed. He had heard similar statements before, trying to prove that the prophecies of Daniel have all been fulfilled, usually by the church.

"What's your name? Young man, don't believe I know you."

His questioner squared himself. "Jeff,” he said, standing up straight.

"Well, Jeff," Glen began, "Your list says three have disappeared. And since you don't believe Rome divided, you've got a statue with one leg and seven toes. A real monster. I'll stick with the one in Daniel."

People began to laugh as they looked at the young man, who had sat back down.

Glen continued. "We could debate about this all night, but there is a much more direct way to establish what part of history the toes symbolize, and it reveals that they are a picture of a future time. And please remember that these toes are lined up side by side on a standing image, and therefore all exist at the same time.

"Being on the bottom of the image, they represent the end time Gentiles kingdoms which will be in existence when Jesus returns. Not one toe will have disappeared at that time, certainly not three of them.

"Folks, we're in this thing, so we might as well see it through. Please turn with me to the book of Revelation, chapter thirteen, verse one."

After everyone had found the place, Glen began to read. "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. Revelation 13:1.

"Jeff, there are your ten toes. Only John saw them as horns and crowns on a beast."

He stood erect and said to those gathered. "Folks, we need to call it quits for tonight. I know you have baby sitters and have to go to work tomorrow. Thank you for your kind attention."

He reached into his cardboard box and drew out a copy of Daniel and the Latter Days. He stepped over to where the young man was standing and handed it to him.

"A little gift for you, Jeff.” He reached out to shake the young man's hand. "Say, you aren't one of those Ostrogoths are you?" he asked with a smile.

Jeff smiled and shook his head shyly. His superior attitude was gone. He looked into Glen's intense eyes and knew he was looking at a real man.