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Autobiography: Agnostics and a "Jesus People"

Here is another short story from my autobiography, Grace Upon Grace, which will be in print this spring.

In the winter of 1971-1972, I was invited to take part in a panel responding to Gordon Lathrop, who was speaking in the CUB ballroom at Washington State University. Gordon was a Lutheran theologian and the chaplain of Pacific Lutheran College in Tacoma. I think I was selected because of my effectiveness in reaching high school kids in God’s Garage. The other panel members were Mr. Bowman, the United Church of Christ pastor, King Rockhill, the Methodist pastor, and professor Paul Brians, founder of the WSU Society for the Propagation of Militant Atheism. The panel members were not allowed to debate with each other, and were only to speak about Gordon Lathrup’s comments.

The ballroom was packed. Gordon started by making fun of Jesus people. After doing that for a while, he said, “Let’s talk about Jesus.” He said that there was not much known about Jesus. Only two things were certain:…

Required to Refute…Gently

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:9

This sentence is a part of the qualifications of an elder in a church in a town in Crete. The elder is to encourage and refute: In order to do this properly the elders must hold firmly to the message.

We find other qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 like “gentle” and “not quarrelsome. “The reason I bring this up is the requirement to refute the opposition and yet not be quarrelsome. We see a statement in 2 Timothy 2:4 which confirms this teaching, “and the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him, he must gently instruct...”

There is increasing opposition today to sound doctrine and to Christians. Christians must refute those in opposition but they must do it gently, kindly, and without quarreling.



Join the #keepthefeast Bible Reading Challenge …

Alibi Jim

A childhood memory from my autobiography:

There was one day on the farm that I did not want to hoe. I hoed one of the tomato patches for a while, then laid down in the dirt in the sunshine and pretended to be asleep.

After a few minutes, someone came to check on me and found me "sleeping." Everyone thought it was funny. I couldn’t tell them I was faking it. They would not believe me! Dad already had a nickname for me—“Alibi Jim.”

From the Autobiography: Hypocrites & Conquistadors

One day, a hippie named Hardy Cook came into the bookstore in College Park, Maryland. When he realized that he was in a Christian store, he felt obligated to tell me why he was not a Christian. I had heard the same story many times before. His reasons for rejecting Christianity were the Conquistadors, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and hypocrites.

When he finished, I asked him these questions.

“Are hypocrites Christians?”

“No!”

“Were the Crusaders Christians?”

“No!”

“Were the Conquistadors Christians?”

“No!”

“Were the Inquisitors Christians?”

“No!”

“Hardy, you just told me that you are not a Christian because of all these non-Christians. That doesn’t make any sense at all.”

I told him that I had been asked to speak at the InterVarsity Fellowship that evening in the Student Union Building and gave him the time and the room number.

It was a long room with a long table down the middle. There were about seventy-five students there. The room was so crowded that when I stood up to speak, I …