Choosing a college for a young man who grew up among fundamentalist Baptists, who had preachers come through annually to tell us that the Rapture would occur any day now and why it will end by 1973, was not an easy thing. I was an athlete who had a chance at a track scholarship until I cracked the inside of my patella playing basketball my senior year. For me this was a clear sign of what I was to do — forget sports and concentrate my life on a vocation of teaching the Bible.
So, I chose Cornerstore (at that time Grand Rapids Baptist College) and it was a very good choice for me — and I got to play some basketball.
My first teacher, first day, was Joe Crawford (Mr. Crawford) and I knew then and there what I wanted to do: teach the Bible. Joe Crawford was a mentor to me — he taught me to think for myself, to read the Bible on my own, to use concordances, to read scholarship, and to buy books. And being in Grand Rapids just made the last thing simple: I had a routine of visiting Eerdmans’ little bookstore every morning on my way to school, in the hope I would find another damaged treasure at 90% off. (That was the price for seriously damaged books.) Joe Crawford’s motivation led me to seminary, though he would have preferred that I not go where I did (TEDS). Oddly enough, I majored in History but had all I needed for a major in Bible, too.
A second teacher with a big influence on me was Dr. Ron Mayers, who was my philosophy teacher. I almost majored in Philosophy because of him. He created one of those classrooms that were both informal but concentrated: we listened, we laughed, and we learned. He had the knack of making you think you had a good question even if he had heard it many times before and even if it was “stuck on stupid.” I consider Ron Mayers one of the finest teachers (as teacher) I have ever known. These were the days when Francis Schaeffer was the reigning writer and his classes enabled me both to appreciate and see the weaknesses of Schaeffer.