National Crises: King David and Abraham Lincoln

by Phil Johnson

It amazed me that a thousand people, myself included, spent a gorgeous Spring day inside Orchestra Hall (see Max's From the Aisle) and after that attended a North Park reception at the Hilton Hotel. It seemed even more odd that people would spend equally beautiful Thursday and Friday evenings and all day Saturday at a study in which King David, of the 10th century BCD, and Abraham Lincoln, of 19th century CE, were compared and contrasted.

However, when the teachers are David Hawkinson of City-Gates and Pietisten and Dr. Zenos Hawkinson, emeritus Professor of History at North Park College, and when Susan and Barbara Hawkinson are the preparers of treats and meals, it is less odd.

While we were asking ourselves what we were doing and if anyone else would be doing it, Associate Editor Nels Elde and I found our way to the new Rice Creek Covenant Church in Lino Lakes, Minnesota. When we arrived, we discovered a room full of people ready to study.

The event was filled with interesting contrasts: son David with father Zenos; Biblical study with American historical study; the Kingdom of Israel with the United States of America; the Socratic style of David and the story-telling, lecture style of Zenos; Susan's baklava with the Pita bread and hummus, to mention a few. There were also areas of common ground: the gory, bloody details of both historical situations — the slaughter at the pool of Gibeon in II Samuel 2, for example, and the 43,000 Union and Confederate dead at Gettysburgh; the focus on national unity on the part of both national leaders; the consummate skill of both teachers; and the good tastes of all the food served.

If you have taken part in a study led by David Hawkinson, you know what a special experience it is. If you have taken a class or heard lectures by Zenos Hawkinson (there have been 50 years worth of them), you know how imaginative and gripping his teaching is. If you have not heard one or both, I encourage you to watch for a chance to do so.

When Zenos, speaking softly and personally, told the story of the Confederate Army laying down its arms at Appomatox, few eyes were completely dry. It moved me to hear how the Union soldiers stood respectfully at attention as the Confederate soldiers marched by to lay down their guns. Finally, the bloodshed was over, and these men, both those holding arms and those laying them down were countrymen.

This was the first time that David and Zenos have taught together. Judging by the level of participation and the expressions of appreciation, people are eager for more of this father and son team. — PJ