WRF Member Clair Davis Explores Possible Thematic Links Between John Wyclif and Doug Green
God louede so the world, that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.
Isn’t that over the top unbelievable? God can talk English! You can hear what he’s saying! Good old man John Wyclif, he did it, God’s word in English.
Not everybody thinks that’s a good idea. The church teaches that only Latin fits God talk, that only the Pope really knows what it means, and then only when he talks from the throne ex cathedra, and nobody knows when that is.
But who cares what the Pope says, this is God himself talking in English! We get what he says. Every day we know more about him, and our Jesus gets bigger and bigger.
Martin Luther does it for Germans. He goes to the butcher’s and learns what’s inside a cow carcass so he can get the words right for those sacrifices. God can talk German too! Hey, Martin just finished another book, the printer is getting it just right, and off it goes on many horsebacks, since everywhere people can’t wait to read Hosea!
God talks so clearly, we are so glad his word is perspicuous. (Some Latin is OK, just so it doesn’t have to be in the Bible, there Deutsch is just right).
The story just gets better and better. Preachers read it too, and what they tell us comes from God. God’s people love to hear him talk to them. They walk hours over those Scottish hills to hear more. Our boys go off to learn that Bible so they can preach it too.
So what is seminary for, to make it harder again, with all that Hebrew and Greek and hermeneutics? Students sometimes think that for a while. But then you see those faces light up more and more: isn’t the Word amazing, isn’t the Lord amazing, I never could have imagined that before. I learned this one from Meredith Kline who got it from the Hittites: there are two tablets of the Law, one for us and one for God himself, not four commandments on one and six on the other. Why in the world did he do duplicates, so both he and I will remember what he promised and commanded? Both went into the Holy of Holies, now that’s where I meet with him now all the time, and I dare to say to my Father: you remember what you said, you’ve got your copy right there, don’t you? He says remember to me and I say remember to him! My face lights up too! And that was just a little piece of what those old Hittites knew and Kline passed on to us.
By now you’ve guessed what I’m talking about. I mourn deeply the moving on of Doug Green and the passing of what he can tell us, can tell us so well from that Ancient Near Eastern time. We didn’t absolutely need to know ANE, who needs to know Hebrew even? But we’re called and delighted to learn God’s story, especially those of us who hang at seminary, and it’s a royal pain to miss out on any of the paragraphs. Know how it is when you watch an old DVD? Right in the middle there’s a jump somehow, and then the story goes on. It’s still a grand story, but too bad about that jump, isn’t it?
By now I’m pretty sure that’s the agenda at WTS, has been for years and will keep on going. Put the lid on knowing all you can about how the OT by itself hangs together. Who needs it, you’ve got the NT don’t you? That’s where it gets sticky, the WTS Board seems anxious that when you talk so much about ANE it sounds like bad-mouthing the NT. But it’s still hard to believe that Doug’s use of ANE materials is what has caused his retirement. Is there something else that we don’t understand? So many of us have lingering questions and it would help us all to get clearer answers, I’m sure. It would help so much if WTS would tell us more. What’s the rest of the story, since so far it doesn’t make that much sense?
Is that none of my business, none of our business? The last thing I want to say is, here’s one more thing we don’t have to understand, let’s just write off WTS and move on. It doesn’t feel like perspicuity does it? But old ways of thinking and loving die hard. The Lord raised up WTS in a hard desperate time for the church of Jesus Christ, and has used her generation after generation, and the name of the Father’s Beloved Son Jesus has been lifted up and honored all over the world because of her and her graduates. That just can’t be over, and it makes sense that we still want to understand, so we can work together joyfully again.
I hope now that comprehensive Westminster way of understanding the Bible will come back again, with all the tools in its full toolbox put to work. I thank the Lord for using Wyclif then and for using Doug now.
I pray that everyone on the Board will think and pray that through before its Fall meeting. How are you for praying for hopeless things? I’m not that good at it. I like to pray about things where the odds are already that they’ll happen, and that the Lord will give it all a little nudge, maybe not really needed. But to pray now that the WTS Board will take another look, will get help from outside, will drop anything like guilt by association, and actually ask: what does Doug really teach, and what does our Confession really say—now that’s not reasonable. I know it isn’t, but I’m repenting of thinking that the main thing God does is push things to happen that would happen anyway.
I’ve been talking too much and getting to prayer too late, I know. But it’s time now.