Franklin could hardly believe what he was hearing. He kept saying over and over to himself, “pre-existing matter, billions of years ago, somehow decided to create it self, including space and time from a big explosion into what we call the cosmos?” Without warning someone shouted out, “Now that is what I call a grand miracle indeed.” All eyes turned toward the back of the lecture hall from where these words resounded to the surprised assembly. The academic atmosphere became still like the eerie calm before an approaching thunderstorm. Forty-nine out of the fifty senior students that attended Dr. Peter Owen Perry’s Origins of the Universe class collectively thought to themselves, “How dare this brazen guy question the word of our distinguished professor and on the very first day of class!” The white haired educator, owner of a thick wavy crop of these many fine protein strands, had a look of distain on his ruddy clean shaven face. He took a slow deep breath as he anticipated a spirited debate. Looking right into the eyes of the lone dissenter, the sixty-two year old astronomy guru picked up the tone of his rough sounding voice, “At last I get to meet Mr. Franklin Marshall, the religious fanatic who is always defending Christianity in all his classes”. Before another thought could cross those collective minds, before another word could be exchanged between the “lesser” Marshall and the “greater” Perry, the horn sounded ending round one of the great confrontation.
The so called brazen Franklin remained seated while the other students cradled their text books, fleeing the approaching fray. A few simply shook their doubting heads. The majority gave Franklin a quick glance which screamed either cool indifference or burning hostility. No one uttered an audible word. In the meanwhile, Professor Perry stood glaring at Franklin with arms folded so tight that any wrinkle in his charcoal colored suite jacket didn’t stand a chance. There they were. The aspiring young astronomer was sitting up straight with his soft hands firmly folded, a model of good posture if there ever was one. Franklin was not intimidated one iota by the annoyed countenance of the eminent astronomy sage. The good doctor now had hands on hips. He leaned back on the heels of his cordovan brown shoes. With a sprinkle of arrogance added to his typical rough voice, the learned professor fired his next shot. “So son, how do you account for the origins of the cosmos? You apparently don’t take much stock in scientific findings.” Franklin’s eyes lit up like a big barn fire. With a slight smile on his angelic like face, the mild mannered student got right to the point. “Sir, your findings are based on assumptions you make but cannot prove. To assume that matter pre-existed, was squeezed into a single point the size of an atom, and decided to explode, forming the vast cosmos, takes more faith than believing there is a Sovereign God who always was and created the universe out of nothing by the Word of His power. There has to be a First Cause, sir. Nothing can just come into being out of nothing. There has to be an Intelligent Designer who is no less than Almighty God.”
Professor Perry began to get hot under the collar of his stark white turtleneck shirt. He took a nearby water bottle, threw back his head, squeezed out a mouthful, and swallowed hard. POP as he was known to his students slowly opened his tightly clenched fists and slapped his hands down in a loud thud that echoed off the walls, shaking the innocent lectern. The professor, with a dash of anger now flavoring his voice, followed with the pointed question, “All right son. Let’s get to the gist of the matter. How do you know that there is a God? A God you and your holy roller friends claim created the universe?” Franklin’s eyes grew wide. He remained unfazed by the boiling hostility of the professor. That slight smile complimented the serious look in Franklin's bright blue eyes. He offered a short silent prayer for divine guidance. Without a hint of haughtiness to be found in his countenance but in gentleness and reverence, the young Christian student proceeded to give an account of the hope that was in him.
It is said that 'the best offense is a good defense'. Franklin employed it confidently. “The One, True, and Living God, the Blessed and Only Sovereign has revealed Himself to us in two ways sir: in general and special revelation. General revelation comes to us in creation which is also called nature. Special revelation comes to us in God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures. The wonders of nature sir, points us to the power, goodness, wisdom, faithfulness, and the government of God over all the work of His hands. We see it in the starry sky and in the awesome celestial wonders of the universe. We see it in the majestic mountains and lush green valleys. We see it in creature’s great, small, and in between. We see it in the tiniest microscopic organisms. We see it in the complexity of the human body and the intricate workings of the brain. We see it the miracle of birth. We see it in the beauty of the setting sun. We see it in the patterns of the snowflake or in the various cloud formations. We see it in a field of wildflowers. We hear it in the song of our winged friends. We hear it in the waves that wash along the shore and see it in the beauty of a stately tree. We see in the ways of the butterfly and work of the bee. We see it in the life of a forest or in a pond. We find it in the rhyme of the four seasons. The Book of Nature opens up its pages all around us as a witness to the Divine attributes.” Franklin paused, surprised that the professor had not responded as was his custom in such matters. Perry stood like a soldier at attention but with his eyes closed. He gave no indication of coming out of this seeming trance. Somewhat surprised at what he was seeing, the young man continued in his calm confident tone of voice.
“His Word however is needed to fully reveal who this awesome God is. God who is the infinite and unknowable One condescends to make Himself known to us, His creatures, in a more special and fuller way. He is revealed in the Book of the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. In the pages of Holy Writ the God of Creation, Providence, and Grace is manifested in a way that nature cannot. Moreover sir, His Word alone can make us wise unto salvation. Apart from the Bible, mankind cannot know the true God as He truly is. After all we all are blinded by sin. Any view, philosophy, or religion that doesn’t stand on the solid rock of God’s Word is standing on sinking ground. Without the One True Living God of the Bible and a personal practical relationship with Him, "frees" us from the responsibilities we have to Him as Creator, Lawgiver, and Judge. This so called freedom, sir, only serves to further the sin and rebellion of those who do not know the Living God and obey not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this sad condition man becomes God. Man’s wisdom becomes the guiding principle of all we say and do. Moreover, man's will becomes supreme in all things. That is why we need special or Word revelation. The Word of the Living God is the sure and steady light that beacons brightly in the darkness of a world blackened by sin and ignorance. Only the Light of the Word can dispel the darkness, the blindness, and restore our sight and understanding in both the physical and spiritual realm.”
The Professor remained strangely quiet. Opening his eyes, Dr. Perry did an about face, took a few short steps, and seated himself behind his oversized metal desk. He removed his silver rimmed glasses, sighed deeply, and looked spell bound to his articulate student. Franklin thumbed through the well worn pages of his Bible. He found the place. In a clear coherent voice he began reading the Nineteenth Psalm. Dr. Perry meanwhile remained behind his desk, like a silent park statue sitting on a pedestal. Franklin followed next with our Lord’s story of the Pharisee and the tax collector from the 16th chapter of Luke’s gospel. All the while Peter Owen Perry listened attentively with his face now buried in his hands. Something was going on inside his innermost being. Something marvelous was taking place. Something only the Spirit of the Lord could work in the mind and heart of a son or daughter of Adam.
The lecturer had become the lectured one. The hard heart of the later was melting and becoming softer. The heart of stone was making its transformation into a heart of flesh. When Franklin finished reading, he turned his gentle gaze toward the professor. Slowly looking up at Franklin, Perry’s eyes welled with tears. “Professor Perry, I...” Franklyn stopped as the professor waved his hand gradually from left to right. In a soft raspy voice that was partially swelled by tears, POP said, “Mr. Marshall?” Franklin slowly nodded his head. Perry proceeded in an earnest voice, “please forgive me. I have been so hostile to you, so uncompromising, and so foolish. I have been repressing the gospel ever since I took this job ten years ago. I was caught up in the academics of it all. I had to base everything on scientific evidence. You probably know this, Franklin but the Bible in the book of one of the prophets says that the earth is a sphere.” I don’t want to sound like a smarty pants’, replied Franklin in a candid manner, “but that is found in the prophet Isaiah.” The professor smiled, nodded, and continued in his serious manner. “I simply refused to acknowledge there was something substantial here. I was afraid of what my distinguished collogues would say if I believed that God is the Creator and sustainer of the universe. God forgive me. You are correct. It does take more faith to believe in the evolution of the cosmos and chance happenings than in the Creative Word and power of God. I had my doubts about what I was teaching but wouldn’t admit the reality and truth of God as Creator, as Intelligent Designer. I was afraid. But you have found me out. Would you pray with me? I’m not good at it. I’ve never been much of a praying man.”
Franklin’s heart leaped for joy. Eagerly he arose from his desk. “O yes sir, I will pray with you.” Franklin walked briskly over to his teacher and put a comforting arm around the professor’s shoulders. Franklin began, “Most gracious and loving Heavenly Father…” He paused as Professor Perry put his arm around Franklin’s shoulders. The tears welled up in Franklin’s humble eyes. A subdued Perry softly spoke, “let me pray son and help me if I get tongued tied.” Franklin in a whisper replied, “I will. Tell Jesus what is in your heart, sir.” With tear stained cheeks, head bowed, and eyes closed, POP prayed, “God be merciful to me the sinner…”
The gospel of Jesus Christ is always met with three reactions. There are those who make light of the good news and its servants. They are simply indifferent to it and have more important things to pursue. Then there are those who meet the glad tidings and its servants with hostility. These want the witnesses of Christ to shut up and not bother them. Both the indifferent and the hostile call the witnesses of Christ fools or fanatics. The indifferent and hostile both share a common ground. They both reject the claims of the Savior. These will not have this Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, to reign over them. Positively, there are the one hundred and twenty who are found gathered together in the upper room of this world. They take seriously the call and charge of the gospel. They have entered in by the only God ordained gate and are on the straight and narrow way that leads to life, eternal life. Happily, this precious gate has not yet been shut. It is still the day of salvation.
O how broard is the grace of God. O how deep is His mercy. O how high is His love. The majestic sun gives its divinely ordained physical light and life to the earth by its illuminating rays. The Word of God sheds its divinely ordained spiritual light and life by its God breathed rays consisting of perfect direction, sure testimonies, right precepts, pure commandments, clean reverential awe, and true judgments.
“I would love to have you come and worship at our church this Sunday Professor. It is also bring a friend day!” said the happy Franklin. “How appropriate my boy", replied the equally happy Dr. Perry. With a light in his eyes the professor placed his hands on Franklin's shoulders, "I would like that very much." Both men were smiling from ear to ear as they shook hands. The angels were rejoicing over this repentant sinner. These same ministering spirits were at their posts ready to attend to these fellow pilgrims and heirs of salvation on their journey to the celestial city.
In that college lecture hall, a faithful Christian by his faithful witness witnessed the re-creation of a man’s soul. Professor Perry raised his arms straight up and looking up toward heaven shouted, “The new birth, now that is the greatest miracle of all!" Aspiring astronomer Franklin Marshall and veteran astronomer and teacher, Dr. Peter Owen Perry that blessed day became inseparable friends, brothers in the Lord, and fellow workers for the truth of the gospel through a little foolishness, the foolishness of the message preached.
I feel your setting in the classroom and the controversy between the student and the professor, enabled you to express a lot of information w/o it becoming too heavy. I felt the same about the descriptive wording, also. I did feel that the two paragraphs of commentary took away from the flow of your article. The two between the professor's salvation and the decision to go to church. Good job. Keep it up.