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.’"

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