Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Michael Horton's cold war antics

The brilliant and prolific theologian, Mike Horton, was to Barbara and me, just a baby-faced kid who roomed with our son his first year at Westminster. He was very ambitious even then, and was the first (maybe still the only) undergraduate at BIOLA University to be a published author. I remember when the BIOLA hour featured Mike and made that boast over the radio. The joke was that Mike's undergraduate publication was, "Mission Accomplished" in which he shows from scripture how Christ's work on the cross had to be a definite atonement. But since the university is (on its best days) but a 4 point Calvinist institution, they never talked about the content of this book of which they were boasting.

We saw Mike the other night at Westminster Seminary's 30th anniversary dinner. It reminded me of my favorite Mike Horton story. Years ago he was attending a Christian conference in West Berlin, and when the schedule allowed him several free hours, he took a ride on a German train. Unfortunately he nodded off, and when he awoke, he saw this big wall going by his window. He turned to the couple in his compartment and asked if they were now in East Berlin. A look of horror and wide eyed emotion greeted him as the couple quickly left the compartment. A short time later he was greeted by East German policemen who then escorted him off the train and to the precinct for questioning. They dumped his briefcase on the table, and out came several Christian books along with the papers and writing utensils. After thorough interrogation in which he continued to tell them his story of how he happened to find himself in East Berlin, they seemed to believe him. They informed him to present himself here at the precinct at 4 p.m. if he ever wanted to return to West Berlin again. Mike says he made it a point to be there at 3 just to make sure.

In the meantime he was free to roam the city, and being hungry, looked for a place to dine. Mike told us that hotel dining room protocol called for the newcomer to sit next to the last person seated at a long table. So he joined the group he found so seated. The man across the table from him noticed his ethnic contrast to the local milieu. "Are you English?" he asked. Mike: "No, I am an American." The man proceded to challenge this American with the crime of being a capitalist. Rather than trying to defend his country from the charge of greed as the motivator of capitalism, Mike simply corrected the man by saying, "No, I'm not really a capitalist. I am a Christian." This bold declaration was greeted with howls of laughter after which the man said, "You must be the only Christian here at this meeting of the Communist Party."

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