I was raised in the Reformed Church in Kansas City. My father, John Wesley Dueker, was a deacon, and how he got in the Reformed Church I don't know! I went to Sunday School and taught a class, sang in the choir, went to Christian Endeavor, and participated in all church activities, even the YMCA.
When I came to that age--somewhere in the teens--when a man stops, looks around, and decides that this world cannot be a colossal accident, I attempted with my mind to define and locate the Creator. I wanted to see what He had done, was doing, and would do. It did not occur to me at the time, but I was delving into philosophy, which is man exploring Deity.
At the University of Kansas I took a short course in Bible study because I needed a "pipe unit." The instructor told me that the Bible was just a "text-book of religious experience," not an absolute revelation. "Why," I asked, "didn't you tell me this before? If the Bible is only a Jewish book, why bother me with it?"
In this manner the questions of where God is and who He is were pushed aside, it didn't seem to be important enough to concern me. I was saying "God" for the first time in my life, but it was "God" with a question mark.
When the war came I was a country doctor in California. I joined the Navy as a flight surgeon attached to the Marines. In the Philippine Islands I received a letter from my wife which read, "Johnny (our boy who was 5 years old) fell from a horse and has a skull fracture. He is unconscious in the hospital..."
There, 8000 miles away, I shook my fist at God and said, "God, you'd better take care of my boy!" Of course, the letter was six weeks late and by this time he was all right...the Lord had done it. That was the second time I said "God."
After the war I took residency at a hospital and was practicing neuro-surgery. My wife, who had been raised an Episcopalian but had not gone to church through our married life, began attending St. Mark's in Van Nuys, California. She not only became interested but active. This meant she would not longer play golf with me on Sunday mornings. So I began to go to church!
I met the rector, Dennis Bennett, and began to attend confirmation class. In fact I went through two series of classes, nevertheless I could not bring myself to be confirmed. My reason was that the teachings were the same as I had heard when I was a child, and they really did not answer my question.
In the fall of 1959, the Spirit fell upon Dennis Bennett and his wife and others at St. Mark's. My wife was one of the first to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. All of this was going on and I didn't know anything about it. I was too busy working and playing golf. One evening when I came home my wife began to tell a very fascinating story. Elberta Bennett, who was by nature a shy, retiring prson, had come over to tell my wife all about this wonderful thing that had happened to Pastor Bennett and herself.
After my wife told me about this, I just knew this was the secret, the key to the whole thing, and began to seek out those people who had this experience. It became extremely important to me to have it, too. I kept thinking, "If they can get it, I can get it too." I engaged a little help from these people in the technique of the day and tried and tried to accomplish this baptism of the Holy Spirit--nothing! I was a little embarrassed and disappointed. A month or so later I decided to try again. A couple of the men came over and sat with me and we went through their suggested methods Nothing happened. Then, something came over me. I felt completely alone and began to confess my sins, "O, God. O, my God. I am a sinner, intolerant, unloving, unclean, and critical. God, take these things away from me." Suddenly I began to speak in tongues. It was tremendous. I was amazed that God, the Creator, would pay this much attention to me. I thought I had it made. Then began some of the tribulations of the Christian life. I thought, "This is a shoddy way to tread a brand new believer! Lord, what are you doing? Aren't you making a mistake by letting these things happen to me?" It took a long time for me to recognize that this was a test. The Scriptures tell that one should welcome these things, but I hadn't quite come to that point.
I used to find myself perturbed with the various disagreements and explanations about the questions "Is speaking in tongues necessary for today?" "Is it the greatest gift?" I have now come to a rather comfortable spot. As long as I keep both feet on the one thing that I really know, which is: God the Father, sent His son to become my sin and die for me and my sin. If I stand right there this is real solid. If I start shuffling my feet, I almost fall off. If I reach at arms length to listen, to study, or to accept or reject something, this is fine. The instant I begin to reach a little farther than that, I am leaning and about ready to fall. The Lord in His goodness will, through the Spirit, reveal to me much truth. If not all truth, right now it has to be within my reach, standing on this one thing. The little questions about tongues and are they necessary do not bother me at all. Of the nine gifts I think I would prefer to have the one whereby the Holy Spirit speaks. Of the nine, I can speak in tongues. I stand on that. Maybe some others will come. I find, just like many others, that I am very limited in my ability to praise God or to ask for something, but I rest upon the Word that says the Spirit will do that for me, and I just love to have Him do it!
Whatever intelligence I had, which is just run of the mill, has been the biggest deterrent in finding the Creator and in finding the relationship there is with the Creator. It seems to me that the direction is wrong. I have read the writings of all the great philosophers, and even toyed with it myself. I am a person who tries to figure out who God is, where He is, what He had done, and what He will do. But the direction of the creature to the Creator...thre is something wrong with this. It hadsn't gotten us anywhere. If we turn this around, to where the direction of effort is from the Creator, to the creature, then we have revelation. This is the difference between philosophy, which is man toward God and revelation, which is God toward man.--Howard Dueker