16 November 2005

This is where I am Right Now


I haven't mentioned it on the blog yet, but I've been in my home state of Oklahoma since Sunday evening.

John MacArthur spoke Monday at a Southern Baptist pastors' conference in Edmond, just prior to the Baptist General Convention at Henderson Hills Baptist Church there. Darlene and I were there to staff a book table for Grace to You. I learned only after arriving that Falwell was supposed to be there, too. He canceled at the last minute. Perhaps he heard the PyroManiac was going to be there.

Then Tuesday night, I spoke at the Heartland Regional FIRE conference in Oklahoma City. Lance Quinn was also in town for the FIRE conference, so it was good to spend some time with him. Jerry Marcellino, whose home and church took a hit from Katrina, was also there, as were Dennis Gundersen from Tulsa, Jim Elliff from Kansas City, Pastor Jim Kirby from Rio Rico, Arizona, and too many other friends to itemize.

Today we will be driving back to Tulsa via Stillwater, where we plan to have lunch with my younger sister.

Tomorrow, Frank Turk and his wife will be in Tulsa, so we'll get to spend a little time with them.

So it's a busy and fun week for me, and I thought I'd let the modern-prophecy theme simmer for a day while I post a collection of miscellaneous thoughts:


Edmond is where my dad grew up in the 1920s and '30s. In fact, as a boy, he used to catch the school bus a few yards from where Henderson Hills Baptist Church is today. My nephew, Chris Freeland, was married at that same church last year.

I spent lots of time in Edmond as a child, visiting my grandmother. She lived in the same house from the time I was born until after I was married, and when I drove by the house two years ago, it was abandoned and in a state of terrible, heartbreaking disrepair. I drove by it again Tuesday, and it has been completely renovated and now has a family living there. That warmed my heart.


Tuesday we also drove by the Oklahoma City National Memorial, and St. Anthony's Hospital a few blocks away, where I was born. My mom reminded me of a detail that helps round out the story I told in last Friday's post: Within a day or two after I was born, while my mom was still in hospital, an earthquake hit Oklahoma City and shook the downtown area pretty hard. That's really rare for this part of the country.

Being here always makes me nostalgic. My family's roots here run deep. Two of my great-grandfathers were cattlemen who helped settle and build Oklahoma City. Some of the ancestral family lands here (no longer in our family's possession) were acquired by my great-great grandfather, who participated in one of the famous Land Runs. Or supposedly. My mom uncovered some evidence in the family documents that indicates he may have been a true Sooner—having come in early in order to get prime land. (But my mom wants it emphasized that the record shows "he purchased the land from an Indian," rather than stealing it outright.)

I say "prime land," because it was deemed so at the time. Providence had different plans for the family fortunes. Today all that land is dotted with auto salvage yards, graveyards for rusty oil field equipment, and abandoned farmlands overgrown with wild juniper bushes.

Adrian Rogers

I want to say something about the passing of Adrian Rogers. I had the highest respect for him, a great love for his preaching ministry, and a special appreciation for the courage and diligence he showed in resisting the erosion of confidence in the Scriptures in some SBC circles.

I also made a short personal connection with Dr. Rogers once.

This happened while I was working as acquisitions editor for Moody Press in 1982. I was still in my 20s, but my job at Moody gave me access to a number of well-known preachers and authors. Moody Press sent me to the ICBI convention in San Diego that year, because every major Moody Press author (as well as every person we ever dreamed of recruiting to be a Moody Press author) was there. My assignment was to get to know as many of them as possible and find out what they were interested in writing. (That conference was where I really got to know John MacArthur for the first time.)

Anyway, one morning during the conference, I had breakfast scheduled with Adrian Rogers. Just the two of us. To talk about books. I was in awe. It was hard not to be. Of course, his voice was the deepest, richest, most mellifluous voice ever. In person, he had the presence to match. He was poised, elegant, refined—the very picture of dignity. And he seemed genuinely interested in talking to me about writing.

I ordered grapefruit. I had so many restaurant-meetings lined up for three days solid that I would have preferred not to eat at all, but he was having breakfast, and it would have been impolite to sit there and do nothing besides talk business while watching him eat.

This was a pretty good grapefruit, with only a few seeds, and small ones. But about halfway through my grapefruit, at a point in the conversation where he was laying out a really interesting book idea, I took a bite of grapefruit that turned out to have a seed in it. If I were at home with Darlene, I would just get up, walk over, and spit the seed directly into the bin. (Or else take aim and spit the seed across the kitchen in the general direction of the bin.) But in this classy hotel restaurant with fabric napkins and fine silverware, sitting across a small table from Dr. Rogers, I wanted to be as well-mannered as possible.

In retrospect, it would have been wise simply to swallow the seed. What I tried to do was quietly, discreetly, put the spoon to my mouth, deposit the seed there, and then silently put it back on the edge of my plate. But this was a really sticky seed, and I couldn't get it off my lip. I tried to blow it softly onto the spoon, but it didn't budge. So I blew harder.

Much too hard, actually. The maneuver launched the seed, which bounced off my spoon, arced across the table, and stuck fast to Adrian Rogers' lapel. His dark blue tailored suit was now decorated with a rather conspicuous grapefruit seed.

Worse, he didn't seem to see it happen. He kept talking to me without missing a beat, as if the whole thing had utterly escaped his notice.

I quickly realized I was no longer hearing him. My attention was fixed on the grapefruit seed, which sat there like a large, grinning lapel pin—getting bigger the more I looked at it. I couldn't decide whether to mention it to him or let him start his day with a seed from my breakfast clinging to his suit, waiting until someone else pointed out to him that it was there. In every scenario I could imagine, he would be embarrassed to discover the grapefruit seed hanging from his lapel, and of course, he would immediately know where it must've come from.

But after a 90-second eternity, during a moment when he thought I had looked down at my note pad, he quickly flicked his wrist and brushed it off. He knew it was there all the time, but he said nothing about it, I presume because he was too gracious to embarrass me.

From that day on, every time I ever saw him or heard his voice on the radio, I have remembered the grapefruit-seed incident; his classy, gentle compassion; and the care he took not to notice my disastrous lapse of etiquette.

I know he was beloved by his people, and I completely understand why. He'll be missed.

Miscellanies found on the Web today

Here's a collection of stuff I'd like to comment on, but time doesn't permit more than a short listing of them:

Phil's signature


Udarnik said...

Phil, Panera Bread Rocks! It really is a pleasant hot spot and they serve great grub. While visiting our daughter in Chapel Hill NC, I think we spent as much time at Panera as we did in her apartment. Sounds like you had a great time in the land of your nativity.

By the way, I would like to wish you all a Happy Dick Baxter Birthday.

"My dear, I fear I have not been as faithful in my preaching today as I should have been. I have not been as much in earnest after poor souls as God would have me be! Go to the study and fetch down Baxter's Reformed Pastor, and read some of it to me. Perhaps that will quicken my sluggish heart." Charles Spurgeon

Joe said...

Dr. Adrian Rogers was my favorite radio/tv preacher and will be missed.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I remember hearing him preach a sermon from Ephesians 2, and he got it right on that occassion.
He normally preached his text, and didn't go off on many rabbit chases. I'll always respect that.

Steve said...

Phil said: "From that day on, every time I ever saw him or heard his voice on the radio, I have remembered the grapefruit-seed incident; his classy, gentle compassion; and the care he took not to notice my disastrous lapse of etiquette."

Adrian's response is priceless. May we all learn from his example!

Charles Sebold said...

You haven't read Sam Waldron's book? They have a blurb from you at the beginning, but it's general enough that it doesn't necessarily mean that you read the book, I guess.

"...Pastor Waldron does an excellent job of establishing the biblical and theological basis for historic cessationism, bringing clarity and sanity to an issue that has too long been dominated by emotion and muddled thinking." -- Phil Johnson, Director of Grace to You

This is above blurbs by Tom Nettles, Rich Barcellos, and Al Mohler, all of which indicate more clearly that they did read it. I just assumed that you had, too.

Ray said...

Panera! Ahh, yes... I love it for the same two reasons; free wireless and Greek salad!

eculeus said...

Great post Phil...so, WOULD you have told him if he really hadn't noticed about the seed? ;)

Anyways, about the last link ... What is a "TR", and why does certain people at boarsheadtavern seem to hate them so much?

Phil Johnson said...

Charles Sebold:

Oh, yeah. I did read it, about a year ago, when it was in manuscript form and before it had a title and cover art. Somehow that totally slipped my mind when I was writing today's post. That's not a reflection on the quality of the book (which is, actually, excellent); it's just one more sad evidence of what ageing is doing to my already-unreliable memory.

So I looked up that endorsement in my e-mail log, and here's the full text of the comments I wrote after reading the manuscript last year:

"Cessationism (the view that miraculous spiritual gifts pertained only to the apostolic era) has fallen out of favor in recent years. That's an especially untimely development in an era when so many churches have been disrupted by charismatic confusion—while false miracles and questionable spiritual gifts abound. The primary argument against cessationism seems to be that if there's no decisive proof-text stating that the miraculous gifts have ceased, and no single passage from which a cessationist theology can be exegetically established, then cessationism must be summarily rejected.

"But the cessation of the miraculous gifts, the passing of the apostolic era, and the closing of the biblical canon are all interrelated truths, dealing with the very same theological issues. To claim that the spiritual gifts are still operative is as spiritually dangerous as believing that the canon of Scripture is still open. The history of the modern charismatic movement furnishes ample proof that this is true.

"Pastor Waldron does an excellent job of establishing the biblical and theological basis for historic cessationism, bringing clarity and sanity to an issue that has too long been dominated by emotion and muddled thinking."

Now I'm going to change the text of the blogpost above before anyone else sees it.


TR supposedly means "truly Reformed," and it normally applies to folks who practice a very strict Presbyterianism where either John Calvin or the Scottish covenanters are deemed the epitome of everything orthodox. In that particular forum, however, the label is regularly and liberally used as a veiled reference to James White and the PyroManiac, both of whom are Baptists. So go figure.

Kay said...

Gotta love those truly reformed baptists...

Very sad about Adrian Rogers - there was something almost indulgent about listening to him preach with that voice - like drinking real hot chocolate in my devotions time..

WES said...

Ah the power of the sovereign seed spitter. Love it.

LeeC said...

<-From Norman here.

I miss it, haven't been back in 20 years or so.
My dad taught at OU.


Steve C said...

Phil, while I generally like Dr. Waldron's writing and appreciate his theological clarity, I'm afraid I can't agree with the idea that "all" of his books are good. Specifically, "The End Times Made Simple" is a book I would not recommend. There is a lot of opinion masquerading as "obvious" fact. This one statement, repeated over and over in various ways in his book is extremely disturbing: "The doctrine of last things is a vital part of the Gospel of Christ itself" (p. 28). Does that mean we who do not hold his view are not preaching the Gospel? If that is the case, can those who hold to a non-amillennial position even be saved? I think it is an overstatement on his part, but it is, at the very least, careless.


I knew I liked this blog. Two good reasons:

The author is an Okie at heart.

The author is a Cubs fan.

I guess that whole brother in Christ thing is icing on the cake.

Kurt N. said...

Accept no substitutes, get the truth from the source!

Who are the Truly Reformed (TRs)?

Just, y'know, since eculeus asked...

Jeremy Weaver said...

I won't be able to sleep tonight since you linked to that ant story.
Thanks a lot.

Friar Rick said...

"Adrian Rogers, the Sooners, Greek salad, Victoria's Secret, grapefruit, cessationism, and the emerging church."

"What is . . . a Pyromaniac blogpost."

"Right for $400!"

FX Turk said...

I really do hate it when people start out a post with "this is where I am right now ..."

No offense, but I hate it. Even in a post as good as this one which even mentions me.

FX Turk said...

What is it with you? Anytime you come to a place for the first time, there's an Earthquake.

And you say the gifts have ceased? P-shaw!

LeeC said...

"I really do hate it when people start out a post with "this is where I am right now ..."

No offense, but I hate it. Even in a post as good as this one which even mentions me. "

Looks like your work is done here Phil. Heh.

LeeC said...

I was thinking the same thing about the quaks myself.
Phils a Quaker!

FX Turk said...

I also forgot to mention that Michael Spencer is on my Christmas list for blogging in 2006.

Mike said...

According to the AP:

"Tasha Henderson got tired of her 14-year-old daughter's poor grades, her chronic lateness to class and her talking back to her teachers, so she decided to teach the girl a lesson.

"She made Coretha stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection Nov. 4 with a cardboard sign that read: 'I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food.'"

Was the Pyromaniac there too?

Maybe he is the unidentified motorist in the story: "While Henderson stood next to her daughter at the intersection, a passing motorist called police with a report of psychological abuse, and an Oklahoma City police officer took a report."


Bhedr said...

Bin? Are you sure you are in Oklahoma? Methinks then that you must indeed read to much Spurgeon.

Sled Dog said...

It's been a while since I've dropped in a Panera bread. I surely prefer the Panera "scene" to Starbucks.

For what I knew of him, Adrian Rogers seemed like a stand-up guy. Heard him on the radie years ago.

Sled Dog said...

Edit: radio, not radie...

Phil Johnson said...

Frank Turk: In case anyone missed it, the title of this post was a tribute to you.

tmssteve: I haven't read Dr. Waldron's book "The End Times Made Simple" (in either manuscript or book form) and my remarks specifically referred to the books he has written that I have read. However, I doubt very seriously that he suggested "those who hold to a non-amillennial position [cannot] even be saved." The statement you quoted, "The doctrine of last things is a vital part of the Gospel of Christ itself" is true enough in the sense that the bodily return of Christ would seem to be an essential aspect of Christianity.

BTW, in my experience, the group who are most likely to treat detailed prophecy charts as tests of faith and wear the fine points of their eschatalogical schemes on their sleeves while spoiling for a fight and looking to excommunicate people over difference about the end times, are premillennialists. <cough>Dave Hunt</cough> So perhaps we ought to go easy on this particular criticism against our amillennialist brethren.

farmboy said...

Though several centuries and several thousand miles removed, it appears that Pyromaniac finds himself in exactly the same situation as the Israelites when they were separated from the Promised Land by the Jordan River. Only in this modern-day reenactment it's the Red River that separates Pyromaniac from the great state of Texas!

Daniel Calle said...

I will miss Adrian Rogers. I heard his sermons in a spanish translation and was edified. When I heard his actual voice, I was amazed by it.

He is with his Savior and Lord now. What a great man of God!

Renee said...

Thanks for sharing your memory of Dr. Rogers. I enjoyed Dr. Rogers sermons and will miss him.

On another note...
I read the news article that Falwell cancelled due to problems with his plane???

Please tell me Pastor MacArthur does NOT have a plane.

Jeremy Felden said...

A certain D. Hunt is also busy damning Calvinists for eternity. Read about it here, on the Mongrel Horde network. I'm rather tired of his shennanigans. It's a good thing we're saved by grace and not by our systematic theologies. Too bad Mr. Hunt doesn't think so.

Terry Rayburn said...

The appeal of Adrian Rogers' preaching was that he preached the Word with [thundering] authority, but without meanness.

Speaking the truth [as best one sees it] in love is still a pretty valuable formula.

Bhedr said...

>What offends me even more than the superstition of someone who ignorantly think God is giving him private messages is the arrogance of the non-charismatic who pretends to have the gift of interpreting extraordinary providences.< Welcome to the world of Paul Proctor and the obsessed Emergent Church watchers. I'm glad you see this point. It is just as bad as the Benny Hinn and Oral Roberts musings.*I'm in a Hayes * or on a Hunt *

Please allow me to explain why I am a continuist though. "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will *prophesy* one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackloth." Revelation 11:3(Chapter and verse) Brethren that is just the tip of the ice-berg, but that is all needed to prove that cessationism is unscriptural and in and of itself a false prophesy.

Keep in mind that the purpose of prophesy is the revelation of Yeshua in which only the Holy Spirit can fulfil. He is not done and neither are His prophets. I consider men like Spurgeon(who would actually consider MaCarthur and his escatology to be in and of itself unwarrented prophesy) Tozer and Vos who whether they be cessy or not are indeed given utterance to make known the glory of Christ. That has always been the purpose of Prophesy and will always be.

Also there will be a time when men will be given understanding to know the Mark of the Beast. If the Spirit of Prophesy has ceased then how will this be possible?

Despise not prophesies. BTW, I am Pre-Mil but I dare not be dogmatic about it. Why? Because I await prophesy.

I have more to say on this but am unsure that others seem to desire this focus. They seem to like facts and figures. Both groups. I wish we could take this into another Arena somehow.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I wasn't aware that Adrian Rogers had passed away, and indeed the Church has lost a prophetic voice.

We should pray that dozens more will stand up in his place to preach the Gospel and love people.

- Jerry DePoy Jr.