Between 8-11 of March 2010, BIG Impact welcomed prof.Willem VanGemeren to teach from Proverbs to about 40 Romanian pastors, missionaries and lay workers.
Willem A. VanGemeren is director of the Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies program and professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.
During this teaching seminar held in Brasov at Excelsior Hotel, he kindly offered us a brief interview.
BIG: First of all, we thank you for teaching us the book of Proverbs! Could you help us understand what made you come to Romania this time?
VanGemeren: The invitation to teach in Romania was given several years ago by pastor Gelu Paul.
BIG: What determined a resident of the pragmatic West to dedicate his life to the pursuit of wisdom?
VanGemeren: I was encouraged to pursue wisdom, because of experiences in life and especially the needs in our churches. God’s people do not know how to be discerning as Christians in the face of post-modernity, humanism, and materialism. I am particularly concerned for the next generation.
BIG: The closer one gets to God, and benefits from His wisdom, one notices how big is the discrepancy between God’s wisdom, and of the world. What is the proper attitude of a person who finds God’s wisdom towards the wisdom of the world?
VanGemeren: One grows in compassion to the peoples of the world.
BIG: How can one answer the challenge of a person who blames Solomon, who did benefit from the wisdom but failed in his walk?
VanGemeren: All of us risk the danger of falling. I am not saying that such people are not saved. But one becomes more aware of the dangers and seductions of life.
BIG: How would you summarize in one phrase the book of Proverbs?
VanGemeren: The fear of the Lord.
BIG: How do you interpret in the light of wisdom Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit”?
VanGemeren: The poor in spirit have been marginalized by society by their love of God. Jesus models this spirit and assures the meek with the promise of the inheritance of the earth.
BIG: What message do you have for the Romanian people in the light of wisdom?
VanGemeren: I would encourage the Romanian Christian to avoid the world of church politics and power in favor of a return to the spirit of Moses, the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles who served the kingdom of God rather than their own wills or calling or position. We need authentic models of the Gospel where people are valued and included, rather than shamed and excluded.
BIG: Thank you very much!