Questions of the Day: "Does absolute truth exist?" and "In your opinion, what does it take for a person to go to heaven?"
I want to talk a little about the "question of the day" and rejection. I've noticed that different questions lend themselves to more positive evangelistic encounters whereas others seem to cause people to cut you off. For instance, I've had several people cut me off (usually done politely) and tell me that they don't really want to talk to me anymore once I have started asking more penetrating questions about absolute truth. I've asked the above question of people hundreds of times, and each time the conversation goes South, it seems to almost always be with relativists who get caught affirming the very thing they just denied, and then because they end up making themselves look stupid in front of their friends, they get frustrated, and say, "I'm really not interested in talking anymore." I had this happen today when I spoke with my first two people and one girl got herself somewhat in a dither when she contradicted herself a few times, realized what was happening, and then gave up on the conversation. What's worse is that they think that you are trying to trap them even though you qualify with something like this, "I'm not trying to give you a hard time or trap you, I'm just interested in finding out how you answer this dilemma." Also, I think that conversations about absolute truth are too abstract for some people, and so they simply shut down intellectually after they have made themselves look and feel stupid when they really didn't understand the real issues to begin with. Given the fact that they have all of that working against them due to a combination of misunderstanding and nil philosophical self-reflection, I can't say that I blame them! Thus, I think that crafting more basic, less abstract questions might be helpful in the future and if and when the conversation gets further than the 1 minute mark, popping off with questions about absolute truth might then be helpful. In other words, my experience is teaching me that using a question to find out where a person is from a worldview perspective that gives them "permission" to express their opinion about issues of ultimacy seems to be more well received than other questions that almost immediately place them on the horns of a dilemma. As a result, any advice from experienced evangelists and apologists is certainly welcomed.
Being Thankful for Praying Christians cum Professional Philosophers
I was witnessing to a group of pleasant young ladies, and two of them said they thought they were good people. So I went through a modified form of the "Good Person Test" and one of them said "You can't go to heaven if you're gay" to which I admitted, "That's true, but God is an equal opportunity judge and will also condemn unrepentant liars, fornicators, adulterers, blasphemers, covetous people, and every other kind of sinner, including homosexuals." While I explained the gospel to this young lady, unbeknownst to be, I had a Christian sitting a few feet away who was walking by and overheard the conversation and decided to come back and pray for me while I was witnessing to this young lady The young lady listened attentively to what I said, thanked me for the conversation, and said she would call me to talk about these things later. It was then that I turned around from where I was sitting, and an older student came up and told me that he had been praying for me and the young lady almost the entire time. This was so encouraging. We then proceeded to enjoy some fellowship for at least 30-45 minutes and we learned that we had so much in common both from the standpoint of religious backgrounds to virtually the same theological and philosophical views. Thus, it was truly a pleasure to fellowship with this dear brother before he had to go to his mythology class. I am so thankful for people like this more than words can express.
An Existentialist turned Inquirer
Last semester I had a long conversation with a young, existentialist student named Adam. Adam and I had a conversation that lasted well over an hour last fall in front of Yum Yum hot dogs at the edge of campus. He listened well when I refuted his existentialism that day, and as I was leaving campus today walking back to my car, I recognized him walking toward me and I said, "Hey man, I spoke to you last semester in front of Yum Yums!" He warmly shook my hand and then told me that that conversation last semester changed his life! He said he was going to church with his girlfriend and investigating the truth claims of Jesus Christ. I was so encouraged. He then explained that after our conversation he saw the vacuous nature of his worldview and started looking into the claims of Christ. I gave him some apologetic materials that I had in my backpack and then told him to call me anytime if he wanted to chat or if he had any questions.
IN CONCLUSION, it is so important to be open, willing, and ready to talk to people with compassion and concern for their souls. Remember, Jesus too looked at the crowds who were distressed like sheep without a shepherd and had compassion on them. We too, should be willing to consider our next door neighbors, our co-workers, and our own family as Jesus did, for you may be the only source of spiritual light they are ever exposed to, so "let your light so shine."