EXCERPT AND INTRODUCTION
Anyway, this young professor then began to lead us through the Gospel of John explaining the text as the text is written. Now, I had been raised in a fundamentalist tradition where the Bible was venerated as the word of God. It was held to be the actual, inspired, infallible Word of God and yet it was almost never seriously studied, taught or applied. Instead, it usually provided a springboard from which the preacher or teacher leapt to wax eloquent on whatever struck his fancy at the moment. It never occurred to me or as far as I know to any of the preachers or teachers that I heard that the various books of the Bible had been written with a purpose in mind and that finding out that purpose and then trying to follow it might actually make the Bible come alive. It had never occurred to me that the study of the Bible was anything more than the accumulation of factoids and that the Bible could be studied in a way that made sense of the individual books and of the whole.
But there I was sitting night after night listening to the careful exposition of the text when somewhere near the end of chapter one of the Gospel of John, somewhere near the point where Nathaniel turned to Jesus and said, ʺRabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israelʺ that it occurred to me that it was all true. Now I would have told you before that it was true, I would have even argued and fought over the fact that it was true. But as I sat and listened to the text being opened, the Holy Spirit took the Word of God and applied it truth concerning the Son of God to my heart in such a way that the reality of those truths flashed forth in my mind as if they were new and direct revelation from God. It was not unlike what happens to a first-time father when his expectant wife finally goes into the hospital. He knows intellectually she is going to have a baby. He knows intellectually that he is going to have a whole new level of responsibility. But when he holds that little baby in his arms the first time and looks at how helpless it is and how tiny, he comes to an existential realization that all he thought was going to be true is true and even more it’s really true. That’s what happened to me and it completely undid me.
2 There Was When He Was Not