- Published on Monday, 27 August 2012 13:24 27 August 2012
Old-timers will remember Dr. Warren Lewis as one of UTS's most colorful faculty members. He was professor of Church History and the founder of its first interfaith outreach--the Global Congress of the World's Religions. Dr. Lewis has never ceased appreciating his days at UTS. Recently he reminisced to me about a spiritual experience that encouraged him to accept employment back in 1975.
"My Grandfather Arthur Lewis--a dirt farmer in Central Texas with a 4th-grade education--was the person most influential in my early theological education. Grandpa read his Bible every day and a couple of other religious books (a commentary on the Bible and a set of questions and answers (a sort of catechism) written by David Lipscomb, a conservative leader of our religious movement: those were the only books he ever read (and the Austin newspaper).
"Grandpa had died 2 or 3 years before I answered the ad in The NY TIMES, became acquainted with Johnny Sonneborn, and was invited to teach a Barrytown. In 1975, I had completed my doctoral program in Tuebingen, but the degree had not yet been conferred, and I was the minister for the West Islip (Long Island) Church of Christ. I was also teaching at New York Theological Seminary part-time, but I wanted a "real job" teaching Church History.
"After jumping through all the hoops of talking to UC members, reading DP, getting approved by Johnny S. (my Abel person--what was the language--central figure?), the time was coming whether or not to say "I do" to Rev. Moon and the U.C.
"One day in the faculty dining room in Barrytown, the ostensible new faculty were seated at table with David S.C. Kim and Young Oon Kim, faring sumptuously on Korean food, I was pondering the Big Question (for I knew that I was probably committing professional suicide), and David Kim was harrangueing us about something or other in DP.
"All of a sudden, Grandpa Lewis appeared to me in a "cartoon dialogue balloon" hanging above David Kim's head. I had had a handful of mystical moments previously in my religious experience, so I recognized immediately what was going on. This was the only time Grandpa ever visited me from the Spirit World, either before or after--one time only. The visitation passed almost instantly, but while he was there, Grandpa said: 'Son, this feller (indicating David Kim) is OK; you can work with him, if you want to.' That was it, and Grandpa was gone.
"For President Kim to receive Grandpa's seal of approval was all I needed. He had always been authoritative for me. A few days later, I met SMM, and we had our first remarkable face-to-face exchange that further confirmed what I had now come to believe, namely, that working with the U.C. was Heaven-approved.
"Later on, I occasionally called David Kim "Grandfather Kim," and I may have mentioned the vision to him, tho' I do not remember. That spiritual connection between Grandfather Lewis and Grandfather Kim made the difference for me more than once: I knew how to relate to David Kim because I had learned how to relate to Grandpa."