Billy Graham Center
Collection 421 - Arthur F. Glasser. T7 Transcript
to listen to an audio file of this interview (17 minutes)
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the second part of the fourth oral history interview of Arthur Frederick Glasser in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center (CN 421, T7). No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing.
Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Bob Shuster and Kevin Emmert and was completed in June 2011.
Collection 421, T7. Interview of Arthur Frederick Glasser by Bob Shuster, April 18, 1995.
GLASSER: [Overlap from tape T6] And this offended Fraser...J...J...Sanders [Glasser corrects himself] very much. I said, “I don’t really want to go.”
SHUSTER: Why was he offended?
GLASSER: Oh, I s...I wasn’t responding in the way...everybody should want to go to headquarters and listen and learn. And I said, “Morry, why should two of us go for America? Only one goes from each country. So you go.” And he liked to go to things like that, and “you go. You’ll do a better job than I could,” and so forth. “Why don’t you keep doing my work.” But that offended Saunders. That was the real break with Sanders.
SHUSTER: How did you find out that he was offended?
GLASSER: Oh, just that he...he virtually...he virtually passed on the word that...of course, I don’t know how it came to me. I know that there was...there was growing impatience, Arnold Lee and me. Arnold Lee was the man who ran the mission actually. Sanders was not a field director, but Lee, in Singapore, he really...a brilliant English chap. He b...he was a great leader, but I think he felt impatient with me. Several got impatient with me.
SHUSTER: Impatient over what?
GLASSER: Well, just sort of the fact that I wasn’t always submitting. To the feeling like, for the council, “One guy from America is enough, don’t you think? We can convey the ideas, and I think Morry deserves the privilege of going. I am not necessary, etcetera, and it was just that their big gathering every three years or so, was not...I didn’t recognize its bigness to the extent that I should of. And I was by that time getting very tired, and I had to get away. I had to get...I wanted very much to take a sabbatical leave. “I got to study.” I had by this time become quite concerned about the way the World Council of Churches was going. The things that they were saying, there wasn’t validity to them, so this and that. And so, just toward the end of that time there in Philadelphia I said, “I...I need a break, and I woul....
SHUSTER: This would be around ‘68 or ‘69?
GLASSER: Yeah, ‘68 and ‘68. I went to Union Theological Seminary [in New York City], which was terrible thing to do. Union [unclear] was studying [Johannes Christiaan] Hoekendijk, who was the outstanding missiologist of the day. He’s wrote the...he has written...wrote that book The Church Inside Out. Later on a I believe he was [unclear] suicide. He had divorced. Gotten rid of his...one of his wives...his wife and married somebody else whom I thought was...well, I shouldn’t go into this. But anyhow, I wanted to get into...I wanted to find out what...what...what...what...what the liberals were saying, what the World Council was saying, what Union Seminary was saying. I wanted to go to Columbia University to study Chinese culture and things of this sort. I wanted to go to Barnard, the women’s college there, and study the inner city. I felt that there was a lot more to learn about the city. And I wanted to go to Union [Theological Seminary] and study under C. Eric Lincoln, you know, blacks. I wanted to get black theology, I wanted...under...so I studied under...so I studied everywhere. And then there was a guy named J. L. Sanders...Jay S...Jay, not J., James Sanders, a brilliant Old Testament scholar, and I wanted to study the Dead Sea Scrolls with him. I wanted to study Isaiah with him. But I did...I did ev...I wanted to...alongside there was a Jewish Theological Seminary. I wanted to study under Moshe Davis there. Study the whole business of Jews in America. And it was...it was quite a year.
SHUSTER: So they...you were granted you a sabbatical?
GLASSER: I was granted that sabbatical, but they knew that I was on the way out. Yeah.
SHUSTER: Well, this, of course, was the end of your time as Home [Director]....
SHUSTER: If we could go back to the beginning. You mentioned that the area in which you could actually do things was rather narrow. I mean...
GLASSER: Well, I was with students, but they like it...
SHUSTER: ....mostly recruiting....
GLASSER: ...but they like that, sure. They...they were quite happy I’d do this.
SHUSTER: Where there...when you became Assistant Home Director...Home Director, were there goals you set for yourself. Where there changes you wanted to make or things you wanted to do?
GLASSER: No. I...I...I didn’t think that way. I wasn’t that way. You worked under the leadership of those over you. And so, I worked. I worked hard, and I gave them everything. I traveled. And of course, th...th...the strain was put on the family and the children and Alice. It was hard for Alice, but we kept busy and I...I worked hard for the.... But I...I just didn’t feel that, you know, that I was...after a while I got pretty bored [Glasser pauses] because there...to go everywhere to talk about missions and be told that missions, you know..., “Talk about why we’re in Vietnam,” you know, and then the Korean War. Of course, the Korean War had been...had been in touch with while I was still in China, but those wars and those things, they were...that was in the background, and I felt myself...I felt myself p...poorly cast to be an administrator. I didn’t feel my gifts were administrative. I hankered for the classroom, but I didn’t want to be in the classroom where the atmosphere is that where we’re tied to southern culture and southern racism and southern this and that, so forth. Family actually wanted as soon as I went to...to New York City and three schools got after me.
SHUSTER: You went to New York City and....
GLASSER: Did the study...study, and study. And when that happened, then my father...my father supported me to do that. I said, “Father, I...I’ve got to get away. Could you help me out with the finance?” So, Father was very generous in that regard. He didn’t approve of my leaving engineering to go into the Lord’s work. That was pretty rough, and for a long time he wouldn’t even speak to me. But...but that...then he came to our help. It wasn’t Alice’s father, it was my father. And so he made it possible for us to move to New York City, and the...then started conversations, just, you know, talking with the boys up at Gordon and then talking with the boys at Trinity.
SHUSTER: Those were two schools that were after you?
GLASSER: Yeah. Well, you see, Ken Kantzer and I were in the same classes in seminary and he was a big wheel at Trinity, and...and that was.... And then one of the old CIMers was a professor of missions there. And....
SHUSTER: Who was that?
GLASSER: Boy, you’re asking me questions....
SHUSTER: J. Herbert Kane?
GLASSER: Yeah, Herby Kane. And Herby is...was always my ideal of a real CIM field missionary. I can remember....
SHUSTER: Why was that? What was...?
GLASSER: I remember him and.... In Shanghai this...I first arrived there, here was Herb Kane, and here...I had heard about him, Canadian guy, joined the China Inland Mission and working in Anhui, a very fruitful province. And I...I...you know, I wandered up to him and I said, “I...I am Glasser, you’re Herb Kane.” This was to where...we just arrived in China. Heard about this fellow. Herb became...he had written a book, Two-Fold Growth of the Church, you know, growing downward and growing upward. And he was very much...very curious, and later on when he went to...he was teaching up in New England for a while and I just liked Herby Kane. And here was my first contact with him, and he had a sheaf of letters all written in Chinese character. And they were from leaders of small congregations, you know, out-stations. And here was this guy writing, and writing [Glasser sneezes] in Chinese character and answered these letters.
SHUSTER: That impressed you?
GLASSER: [Glasser sneezes again] That impressed me. Boy, here was a China Inland Mission..., and I joined this mission...this is gonna happen to me. I’m gonna write letters like that. [Shuster chuckles] Never did. [Glasser laughs]
SHUSTER: You say that he was your ideal of a field worker, what made him a...?
GLASSER: Field missionary [unclear].
SHUSTER: What made him a ideal...?
GLASSER: Well, you see, I’ve seen missionaries where Harry and Marguerite Owen...then they had worked under Herby Kane for a while. They knew Herby...
SHUSTER: Senior missionaries from where you were assigned?
GLASSER: ...in Kunming. Yes, in Kunming. Our first senior missionaries, and they were the ones who...who told me about Herby Kane. And then my room...
SHUSTER: What did they say?
GLASSER: ...my roomer at Wh...at...at...at Whea...at Moody...at Moody Bible Insti...he knew Herby Kane. Herby Kane came from a Plymouth Brethren family in Montreal. And so that I had heard a lot, but then to see the guy in the flesh....
SHUSTER: When yo heard about him, what did people say?
GLASSER: Oh, well, just everyone spoke very highly of Herby Kane.
SHUSTER: What qualities did you hear?
GLASSER: Oh, just that he was a real missionary, a real man of God, etcetera, etcetera. So that Herby has always been a person that I’ve looked up to, you know. But he wa...there was Herby Kane and there was Ken Kantzer at...at Trinity. And...and then of course, Kerr [?] at...at Gordon, and...and...[pauses] oh boy, there were several others though, they...how.... We...I was in touch with them. They knew I was studying and they...they didn’t know what was gonna happen. Neither did I, but I t was in the middle of that. Lo and beho...see, I occasionally had gone down to...came down here to speak....
SHUSTER: Come down here, meaning Fuller Seminary?
GLASSER: Fuller Seminary to speak while I was still in the...in the CIM, OMF. So I came to the school, see, I was quite impressed with it, you see. You know, tr...who’s the guy who’s fighting The Battle for the Bible...
GLASSER: Harold Lindsell. His wife was the maid of honor for our wedding, and Lindsell was a product of Columbia Bible College and so....
SHUSTER: So she was a close friend of your wife?
GLASSER: Yeah. Very...they were both together at Columbia Bible College. And so, we were...yeah, I knew about them [Glasser coughs] and their School of World Mission, but I had been told that they...they were going to found a School of World Mission. And the idea is, “Who would you recommend as the leader of that school?”
SHUSTER: Who asked you that?
GLASSER: Somebody here. It was Dan...whether it was Dan Fuller, they told me about this. People told me about the correspondence. They asked me, “Whom did I think should be the leader of the...the...the new School of World Mission?” And I said, “Frankly, there is only one guy that’s writing on missions that’s making any sense. All the rest of them are putting missionaries up on pedestals, and saying, ‘Admire them. What great saints they are.’ But there’s a guy that’s asking basic questions: ‘Why do churches grow?’ I said, ‘You get that Donald McGavran, you’re gonna get the best man in the business.’ And...and they...they allowed me...David Hubbard said, you know, “You’re the guy who wrote us the letters.” But [Shuster chuckles].... But then, there came a time when Dave Hubbard came to New York City. It was while in New York City he tracked me down, and we had a talk and he asked me if I would come to Fuller. And by this time Ti...Trinity had too much of American separatist stance, ultra-conservative, that we had gotten at Faith Seminary, and I’d been trying to get out of. So that was that. New England, they had only one...they had one post of, you know....
SHUSTER: This was Gordon?
GLASSER: Ela...Gordon. Yeah, one mission [faculty member] and I said, “I don’t feel one man should be the teacher of missions. I think...I think a sch...I need to be a member of a team of people that can really think through all the things. We have to recast the whole mission of the church, I believe. I goy the feeling that more and more... [tape turned off and on] came to...
SHUSTER: Hubbard came to you and asked that....
GLASSER: And asked me....
SHUSTER: What point was McGavran...had McGavran become head of...?
GLASSER: I don’t know...oh [unclear] you see this was...McGavran had just...had become head of the school. The school was gonna...just taking off. A team was being gathered together and Hubbard came to see me. You know, just came. He was there. I just...I don’t know why he was in the area. He just came and he was....
SHUSTER: Maybe he was there to see you.
GLASSER: Well, maybe he was. But Alice, by this time, she was not drawn to Trinity’s. mil...militant conservatism. Not militant, but, you know, but of suspicion. And Gordon, this...I said, “Al...” to Alice I said, “Gordon is...will be a lovely place. I’d love to live in New England, but just to be the only person, I don’t think I’m c...qualified for that. My mission is...experience is so limited. How can I, you know, speak on all the courses that would need to be developed?” And here’s a team, and let me tell you, it was the team. But Hubbard di...Hubbard took me into a restaurant. He said, “Now this restaurant is...is...is known for its pastrami sandwiches [Shuster laughs].” Did I tell you that story?
SHUSTER: No, I haven’t heard it. Sounds more like a deli than a restaurant.
GLASSER: Yeah, he said...he had asked me before and, “Did I believe that human beings could create?” This is the question he put to me. You know, he just wanted to find out how I thought as a theologian. Well, I said, “We all have the image...the...that we bear the image of God has been marred by sin. But one of the elements of the divine is to create.” I said, “When an artist faces a big white canvas and starts to paint on that, you know, that...he’s exercising something that [Glasser and Shuster laugh]...and a person who makes a dress what a lo...wonderful creation.” And he was offended by...he was [Glasser and Shuster laugh].... So, he went into this restaurant, he said, “Now, this place is known for its pastrami sandwiches. Now, you know what pastrami sandwich is – a pastrami sandwich is a combination of God’s creativity and man’s ingenuity. [Glasser and Shuster laugh] And I said, “Boy, that’s terrific. Ah, I’d love to work with you. You have the right approach to life [Glasser laughs]. Although I diver...I still differ on this matter of creativity. I think there is a sense in which there is the dimension of...we do bring things out of nothing, you know, and so forth. But, he asked...and of course I had gone to Trinity for a while and seen people, but the more I talked to people the more the mood seemed like...seemed like a...a s...a second wind to the conservative, ultra-conservative movement and I had had enough of that. See, Alice had been in the Overseas...in the OPC, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. She was a Westminister-ite. When I first met her she was reading Cornelius Van Til’s epistemology. You know, we’re gonna argue ourselves straight...no, no. So, A...Alice is very wonderful, but she was willing to come to Fuller. In fact, she’s often said since that coming to Fuller was such an emancipation for her. I came...she, see, while in New York City, she got a job working for the Guggenheim Foundation. All of these experts coming in, wanting big foundations to do this and that. And of course, all the human interest she shared with me nights, that was [Glasser and Shuster laugh]...oh, dear me. But...but, you know, into the...what go...what’s happening in the world today, Alice is...my wife is a very avid reader. You won’t believe this but right now she’s working her way through Dante’s Inferno.
SHUSTER: I just finished th...I finished Paradisio on Sunday.
GLASSER: Is that right?
SHUSTER: I read it every year or so.
GLASSER: Oh, well, she wanted to read that.
SHUSTER: I’ll have to talk to her about it sometime. I love it.
GLASSER: Yeah. Well, here...here I am trained in engineering, what do I know about it..about....
SHUSTER: Dante’s structure of the world is very..it’s very well engineered. He wrote...
GLASSER: [Glasser chuckles] Well....
SHUSTER: ...he even described how the bastions and the supporting buttresses in Hell were designed and laid out.
GLASSER: Oh [Glasser chuckles].
SHUSTER: Anyway, anyway, but that’s....
GLASSER: But that’s...yeah.
SHUSTER: I promised you that we would stop...
SHUSTER: At 3:30...
SHUSTER: ...and we’ve reached that now.
GLASSER: Yeah. Okay.
SHUSTER: There’s more that I’d like to ask you about your years at the OMF, and of course your years teaching at Fuller and your....
GLASSER: Yeah. I would think that there’s nothing more significant to say about the OMF. That was just hard work. Lots of travel. A lot of inconvenience, tough on the children, but the part that we felt that we kept the...the ...the mission going, and the mission prospered. We recruited guys and are thankful for those that have come to the OMF, and since then, through my family, we’ve been able to see friends come to...any OMFer can come here and get training, and so I’m still in touch with the mission. But I’m not an administrator. I think I’ve learned that increasingly I’m not an administer. Although I did hear of....
SHUSTER: [Unclear] Administrate has that you don’t have?
GLASSER: I don’t know. I don’t know. The consistency, the decency of order. Everything decent and in order, but don’t worry about that.
SHUSTER: Okay, well thank you and I hope we can pick this interview up at some later time....
GLASSER: At some later time. You know I’m always on your side, so forth.
SHUSTER: Thank you very much.
GLASSER: I’ll think about the papers and see....
END OF TAPE
Return to BGC
Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 06/22/11
© Wheaton College 2011