Volume 14, Issue 6: Doctrine 101
While still a young officer serving in the U. S. Navy on board a destroyer in the Aegean Sea, I was Officer of the
Deck one evening, maintaining our ship's position in column with two other vessels. The lead ship was a British destroyer, we
were second in line, and the third was an Italian corvette. We were each rather close with a 200 yard interval between ships.
The Captain of our ship was in the Wardroom with the other officers watching the evening movie. He had standing orders to
be contacted anytime a ship was to come within 10,000 yards of our ship.
On this particular evening, the Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD) noted a contact on radar at 20,000 yards
that would eventually collide with us if neither of us changed our course or speed. This particular type of situation is what
is known as "constant bearing, decreasing range" or CBDR for short. I dutifully called the Captain and gave him the
required report. He was not alarmed and asked me to call him back when the contact was at 10,000 yards. Several minutes late,
I reported that the contact was now at 10,000 yards and still CBDR. He asked for a follow-up report at 5000 yards, which
I gave, and it was still a CBDR situation. Per his request, I gave another report at 2500 yards, with no change in course
or speed. At 1500 yards, the Captain pulled himself away from the movie and rushed to the bridge to see for himself.
The contact was a huge pleasure liner. I tried hailing it on our bridge-to-bridge radio. Nothing. I tried contacting it
by flashing light. More nothing, and still CBDR. Finally, at about 500 yards, the Task Group Commander on the
British destroyer gave all ships in the column the signal to maneuver independently to avoid collision. We came up to flank
speed with hard right rudder, as did the Brits also, trying to get out of the way. The pleasure liner passed about 25 yards astern
of us. It looked like a cliff of steel passing by. It never gave any recognition that we were even there.
When the liner had passed, the Task Group Commander reformed the column. In an attempt to ease the tension, a
lone British radio operator came over the net a few moments later and said in obvious reference to the liner we had
nearly collided with, "Beastly fellow, what?"
In retrospect, the pleasure liner was a "beastly fellow." It was deaf and dumb to our attempts at communication.
We hailed it, but it never responded. It very nearly came close to destroying our ship and would have done so without anyone
on board the pleasure liner in a position of responsibility knowing it at the time.
Now let me stretch the analogy a little further. Isn't the pleasure liner like sinful men in response to God and
His gospel? The Bible says in Genesis 1:26 that God created man in His own image. After the fall, man is still in the image
of God, but the image is distorted, for the Scriptures say, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,
and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually"(Gen. 6:5). Man's sin has made him
brutish, beastly. The Psalmist says, "Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish" (Ps. 49:20).
Look also at what Peter says: "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness. . . . But these, as natural
brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their
own corruption" (2 Pet. 2:10-12).
And Jude supports this: "But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but
what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves" (Jude 10).
So how do men whom God describes as brute beasts understand their need for salvation? Why would God
describe them as brute beasts if they could think and reason their way to spiritual truth and then obey it? Does the Bible provide us
with any answers to these questions?
It was God who made Balaam's dumb ass to speak: "And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto
Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?" (Num. 22:28). It required an act of God to
open a beast's mouth to speak. How much more, then, the heart of a brutish, sinful man?
Daniel describes for us how King Nebuchadnezzar was temporarily deposed because of his human, sinful pride
(Dan. 5:20-21). So how was he restored?
"And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned
unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever,
whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing:
and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand,
or say unto him, What doest thou?"(Dan. 4:34-35)
It was God who made a beastly king into a man of divine understanding. It was God who made Nebuchadnezzar
come to Christ. If it took an act of God to save one of the greatest kings the earth has ever seen (Dan. 2:37-38), how much
more will it take to save the rest of us? To think otherwise is truly beastly.