The syndicated Harley-Davidson talk radio show aired on Monday through Friday afternoons from the Hearst Building on the corner of Third and Market Streets. Harley Irving and Vince Davidson ranted about politics, sports, religion and whatever struck their fancy on their top-rated West Coast talk program. Seven million people tuned-in as they drove their vehicles home from work.
The program on the day after Jeremiah’s second visit to City Hall bubbled over with more spirit than usual, even by Harley-Davidson’s outrageous standards.
“If you haven’t heard this clip from yesterday’s supervisors’ board meeting, it’ll make your teeth shiver. Roll it,” said Harley, a three hundred and seventy-five pound chocolate milkshake, cheeseburger and fries aficionado.
A two minute tape played Jeremiah’s prophetic words and his exchange with C. M. Thurston. No editing had been done to it because all of the chamber’s noisy reactions could be heard.
“What do you think, Davidson?” said Harley, pointing at his skinny partner with coke-bottle lens glasses, balancing on his nose.
Davidson grunted into the microphone.
“As our audience knows, I’m hardly ever a fan of Supervisor Thurston,” he said. “But this De Luz guy is dangerous. He believes he can speak for God? Sort of reminds me of Jim Jones.”
“Jim Jones, huh? I didn’t think of that connection – but you’re right. Jones was the pastor of the People’s Temple right here in San Francisco. He called himself a prophet, didn’t he? Even got involved in politics, Mayor Moscone gave him a seat on the Housing Authority and – ”
Davidson cut him off.
“No matter how you shuffle the cards, Prophet Jones’ claim to fame is that he convinced more than nine hundred people to commit suicide in Jonestown,Guyana, on November 18, 1978. Nice prophet, right?”
“So, what’s the low-down on this prophet stuff?” said Harley.
“Glad you asked,” said Davidson as if answering on cue. “Today, we have a guest who will shed some light on prophets. Reverend Elmer Jasnowski is a doctor of theology and a professor at Stanford University.” Davidson paused a beat, then said, “Rev. Jasnowski, welcome to the Harley-Davidson Show.”
“Thank you, it’s a privilege to be here,” said a booming baritone voice.
“So, Reverend, can you give us a little background on prophets?” said Harley.
“Yes, I can,” said Rev. Jasnowski. “Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke to Israel mainly through kings, priests and prophets. The prophets were generally not a part of the temple hierarchy and were sort of the lone wolves of their day. They received a message from God and then delivered it. Often, the message was not received well by listeners. Generally, it ran counter to the beliefs at the time and – ”
Harley interrupted to make a point.
“So, De Luz could be a prophet, right? Seeing that his views run counter to what we think here in the Bay Area.”
“Depends on what?” said Davidson.
“It depends on what camp of Christianity you follow.” Rev. Jasnowski went on. “Let me add a little more background before I get into that, okay?”
“Sure,” said Harley.
“Did you know the Lord Himself was perceived as a prophet in His day? He was; and also, New Testament scripture states the Lord gave the church prophets, along with apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers, when He ascended into heaven. A few examples of prophets in the New Testament are John the Baptist, Silas and Judas. Now, this is where it gets kind of tricky.”
“How so?” said Harley.
“Ah, you see, we have two extremes in Christianity. At the one end are the Cessationists. This group believes prophecy and the miraculous gifts were only given to the early church as launching pads for the spread of the gospel. Then, when the last apostle died and the New Testament was written, the gifts died out. At the other extreme are the Pentecostals. They are – ”
“Nuts and wackos,” piped in Davidson, finishing Jasnowski’s sentence. “I know. I really do! You want to know how I know? My sister-in-law is a tongue-talking weirdo. She’s always bugging me.”
Reverend Jasnowski laughed.
“The Pentecostals believe the miraculous gifts and the callings of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are still valid for today’s Christianity. They believe spiritual gifts reappeared with the Azusa Street Revival in 1906.”
“So, what are your beliefs about De Luz and prophets as a whole?” asked Harley.
“I’m like most Christians – middle of the road, not at one extreme or the other,” said Jasnowski. “We have the Holy Spirit. A complete Bible. Good churches. Pastors and theologians. Good seminaries. So, why does God need prophets? Plus, there is one other point.”
“Yes, go on,” said Davidson.
“God has a church government set in place with the pastor as the head,” said Jasnowski. “So, if God really wants to speak, He’d do it through pastors, not some unknown, untrained man without any accountability to a local pastor in San Francisco. After all, things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”
“So, you sound sure we don’t need to worry about De Luz and his words?” said Harley.
“What percentage is fairly sure?” asked Davidson, pinning the theologian down.
“Ninety-nine point eight percent sure,” said Jasnowski.
Harley blew out a monstrous sigh into the microphone.
“As my daddy used to say, ‘the fastest horse doesn’t always win the race, but that’s how I’d bet my money.’ And, folks, I’m betting that Rev. Jasnowski is correct on this one.”
(This is an excerpt from my soon to be published book, Jonah.)
(Continued in Part 2)