Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, World-Renowned Theologian
With the upcoming publication of English Book 6 of the History of Redemption Series, True Peace interviewed Dr. Bruce Waltke, one of the most influential living scholars of faith. Dr. Waltke gladly accepted the interview, and we met via Zoom at dawn on Sunday, March 14, Korea time. He was in amazing condition for his age (born in 1930). The interview was done by Rev. James Park, who is in the English translation team for the History of Redemption series at the Center for the Movement of Redemptive History.
How have you been during the difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Have you been able to keep in touch with Dr. Warren Gage and Dr. Luder Whitlock?
By the grace of God, my family and myself have not been personally affected and are fully trusting in the Lord. I am thankful for that.
Warren calls me maybe once every three months just to converse. Luder’s wife Mary Lou, she writes me once maybe once a week. So yes, I do stay in contact with Luder and Mary Lou, Warren and Betty.
That’s great. I also reached out to them recently last year and we talked about ministry and also the history of redemption series books authored by Dr. Abraham Park. By the grace of God, we are ready to have the launching for the 6th book by the end of this month.
Oh, that’s wonderful news.
Last year, I sent you a pre-printed version of the 6th book along with the color illustrations. In response, you graciously made a book recommendation for the 6th volume of the history of redemption series. In it you mentioned that the subject of the high priests and the priesthood was very important but often neglected. Can you elaborate on that?
We can judge the importance of a subject in the Bible by the amount of material that is dedicated to it. A large amount of the material is dedicated in the Old Testament, especially in Leviticus, to the role of the high priest and the priesthood. We can infer from that, that the topic is very dear to the heart of God and very important to Him. It seems to me that anything that is precious to our God and Lord and Savior, should be precious to us and should be understood by us. He wants us to know Him better, and the Apostle Paul says that the Scriptures, in reference to the Old Testament, were all written for our instruction, edification and for our endurance in the faith. All these things happened as an example to us. Moreover, the writer of the book of Hebrews spends several chapters on the high priest and the priesthood and shows us that they were a foreshadow of Jesus Christ who is our Great High Priest. Therefore, judging by the amount of material given to the topic of the high priests and priesthood throughout the Bible, this tells me that it is important to God and should be important to us and that we need to reflect on and learn from it.
To answer the second part of your question, in my experience, the topic has been neglected in preaching by many people. Many people often neglect the doctrine on the high priests and the priesthood and do not preach about it regularly. One of the reasons is that people do not see the immediate need of the doctrine. I think that a lot of preaching today is psychotherapeutic, and more concerned about making people feel good. There is an emphasis of trying to make people feel happy rather than making them holy. The doctrine of the high priests and the priesthood seems to be out of touch with where people are now and their felt needs. Whereas in truth, it meets our deepest needs, which deal with matters of sin.
The high priest is basically one who represents cleansing and holiness of the people. They are one who intercede for the people. Therefore, I think that a neglect on this topic is really a lack of understanding of God’s holiness and our need of God. People are trying to solve a spiritual problem without sound doctrine and holiness. Also, I think that there is general neglect of the Old Testament. There is a real misunderstanding and people think that it has been done away with and therefore neglect 2/3 of the Bible. There is a lot of confusion about the law. We think that it has been done away. We fail to realize the new covenant is the law written in our heart. The new covenant does not do away with the law, it is the fulfillment of the law, and empowers us to keep it. But because we no longer have the tabernacle or the temple, and the priesthood has been done away, we haven’t integrated that into the ministry of Christ. It is all a shadow of Christ. The more we know Christ, the more deeper we are in our spiritual life, the more we will become nearer to His holiness through the truth.
You mentioned in your book review of the 6th book authored by Dr. Abraham Park, that to your knowledge, this is the first time in word history that anyone has systematically organized and presented the genealogy of the 77 generations high priests from Aaron to Phannias.
I could tell that a tremendous amount of research was done for this book. I was impressed by Dr. Abraham Park’s devotion and love for the Word of God. He was one who really loved the Word of God and dug deeply into it. The book is written with passion but also it is very thorough and that is something that impressed me. It is the most thorough treatment on this subject of the high priests and priesthood that I have ever seen. It covered all of the complexities of the subject. I really appreciated that and it’s a great resource. It’s one that you have to go back to again and again when you are studying the subject because there is such massive material that was written on the topic. Whenever I want to research about the topic of the priests and the priesthood, I will always go back to this resource.
As you said, there is a lot of material where scholars can refer to as a great resource, but also you mentioned that it has practical applications for all Christians.
This shows us Dr. Abraham Park’s pastoral heart all throughout the book. It is a wonderful combination of difficult data, background data, clarity, devotion, application, they are all great aspects. I trust the Lord will use it greatly.
Now you visited Korea for the first time in 2013. What were some memories or impressions you had about our church congregation, about the worship, the retreat center that you visited and your experience in doing the lectures on the Psalms?
I remember when we went to the (Yeoju) conference center that used to be owned by the Methodist church. I remember the thousands of people that were there and camping in tents. I remember the people sitting down with their legs crossed and I wasn’t used to seeing people do that. They sat like that for hours. I was impressed by the fervency of spirituality of the people. And also, I was impressed by the passing on of the faith. I was very impressed by the Sunday school children, about a hundred of them, who sang the ten commandments in Hebrew and the Lord’s prayer in Greek. For the children to have that kind of biblical foundation, I thought about what a great contrast it was to the United States. I can see why God is blessing Korea. I just thought it was wonderful how the faith was being transmitted to the next generation.
I was impressed when we went into the prayer cave. We went in there and there were about 100 pastors of men and women who were in fervent prayer. I was impressed their prayer, spirituality and their fervency. It was a strong impression and I remember it all vividly. What also impressed me about the church service was not only the amount of people, but I never felt the spirit so palpably there when I preached.
I have never ever experienced anything quite like it before or ever since then.
There was a great sound of amen from the congregation, and it was like the Holy Spirit was speaking back to me through the congregation. It came in different decibels of loud and soft amens. The amens were always to the promises of God and nothing else. That really impressed me, the response to the promises of God by the spirit working in the people. This should be a great encouragement that God is working in your midst. I mean, to them it was normal but to me was an extraordinary experience. I remember the kindness of the people and the generosity
It was magnificent. All of that impressed me. Dr. Abraham Park was a Spirit filled man and God used him abundantly. The congregation are a witness and testimony of that, a fruit of his ministry.
Are there any words of greeting you want to say to our congregation?
I want to thank the church for allowing me in some small measure a part of their blessed ministry. My heart is very thankful for that. I want to thank them for opening their hearts to Dr. Abraham Park’s ministry, and allowing God’s grace to work in them. I want to thank them for ministering to me. I think they ministered to me more than I ministered to them when I was there. I was greatly blessed. I want to encourage them by saying that God is with them. It is obvious that God is present with them in a blessed and wonderful way. I know that God loves us all but I think He takes delight in those who praise him and those who trust in him. We bless the Lord, He loves our praise and our trust and that relationship. This church has been giving Him thanks and praise and are walking with Him. I want encourage the church not to grow cold or draw back. I pray that the church will not to be discouraged because we are living in troublesome and difficult times. Be encouraged.
Thank you so much. It can be long or short but can we conclude everything with a prayer?
Heavenly father, my heart is filled with joy as I think about the brothers and sisters in Pyungkang Church. I love the people and the church I praise you for them. Thank you for the work that Dr. Abraham Park has done both in preaching and his dedication, and work in writing the books. Thank you for the fruit of the ministry. Thank you for the students that I have had from the church. I thank you for the opportunity to be a part of that the fellowship and to experience your grace in them, and to feel the presence of your Spirit through them and to have a fresh witness of your presence and your reality.
I pray your rich blessings and may satan get no foothold and may there be no division or strife but grow in love for one another. Help them be zealous for the Lord as David was zealous of the temple of the Lord. Give us the zeal for the kingdom of God and at all times help us to advance. Thank you for where we have come and hopeful for where we would go and we advance by faith. We do this all with joy and thanksgiving. In Jesus name we pray with thanksgiving. Amen.
*This post can also be read in 'Champyungan'. (http://champyungan.com/en/)