Friday, August 20, 2010

GTCC Outreach Report 8-20-2010

Today, we had the opportunity to kick off our Fall semester campus outreaches by interacting with many different types of unbelievers. I interacted with many faux "christians", three committed Muslims, several people who affirmed a nebulous version of theism (deism?), and, one professed atheist. I'll provide some relevant details below.

Question of the Day: "Can Anything Happen?"

As you can imagine, given the conjunction of relativism and a simple lack of ability think critically regarding the question of the day, I received the expected "Yes." A few times, a person actually responded, "Yes . . absolutely!" I then asked, "If anything can happen, is it possible then for a house cat to give birth to a baby elephant?" Sadly, most people responded, "Yes, they can do just anything in a science lab these days." So, not only does relativism hold sway over our culture, but scientism does too!

Next, I asked, "Okay, if anything can happen, is it possible for us to have this conversation here (i.e., on the campus proper) and in the parking lot at the same time and in the same way?" Most people didn't understand the question, so I had to ask it one or two more times. Everybody agreed that it was impossible, but I did have one guy try to argue that it was possible because of other dimensions. I told him he watched too much T.V. So, once I got folks to admit that it's impossible for absolutely anything to happen, I then asked them to explain why that was the case. Most people responded with things like, "I dunno . . . . beats me . . . or 'what?'" It gave a great opportunity to explain the gospel to several groups of unbelievers, most of which were church attenders.

"Faux" christians

Please understand that I do not desire to simply demean the folks that I'm about to describe, but I'm sad to say it; these folks oftentimes cannot answer the simplest of questions nor do they demonstrate any ability to think critically. I'm not asking for people to perfectly state the fundamental laws of logic verbatim nor am I asking for an answer to Zeno's paradox; I simply would appreciate at least a willingness to grapple with ultimate questions. To make matters worse, these folks fill the church pews of most so-called "evangelical" churches of America. They think that they know God yet they can't explain the gospel in even the most basic way. When I ask them questions about their spiritual life its also evident that they simply have no love for God, God's people, and many of them admittedly sin habitually and willingly and make light of such things. As I interacted with folks like this today, I asked several of them to explain the gospel to me, and the usual response was, "well, you gotta ask for forgiveness."

I then would ask, "Who do I ask, and why?" and they were clueless in response. I then asked, "If you claim to be a Christian, yet you can't explain Christianity 101, what reason do I have to believe you're really a Christian?" At this point, folks either blew me off, or became angry and accused me of being harsh. Of course, my intention is not to be harsh, but I do want people to think about the implications of their lack of knowledge of even the most basic rudimentary knowledge of Biblical Christianity. When a person said, "I think you're being harsh", I responded; "If I was a neurosurgeon and I burst into the exam room and bluntly told you that the reason you were having migraines was because you had a huge intracranial tumor pressing on your left frontal lobe and if we don't operate next week you're doing to be dead in six weeks, and then I showed you MRI images and blood tests, would that be harsh and unloving because I bluntly, directly, yet accurately told you the truth about your condition?" This person said, "no", I then said, "Then why is it that if you can't explain the gospel message in the most basic way and I am justifiably lead to conclude that you simply don't know that gospel, why do you call me harsh? Upon what basis do I have to conclude that you really do know the Lord of the gospel if you don't know that selfsame gospel?" I received no response, but only a convenient ignoring of my presence. I thanked these folks for their time, and went looking for another person to speak with.

Three Committed Muslims

I have always enjoyed talking to committed Muslims because they are always eager to discuss spiritual things even though they strongly disagree. I have found them to be generally respectful and open to dialogue. After initial introductions, I asked them how they could disagree with the Bible given this argument based upon the teachings of the Qur'an:
P1 - The Qur'an says the words of Allah cannot be changed or corrupted.

P2 - The Qur'an says the Bible is the Word of Allah.

C - Therefore, on the authority of the Qur'an, the Bible could not have been changed or corrupted, as many modern Muslims claim.
I gave a few surahs from the Qur'an to ground my premises and they didn't try to disagree with me. They simply skirted this argument like the plague and instead wanted to ask some good questions about why Jesus had to die according to Christianity and that gave me an opportunity to explain to them that Allah's forgiveness is necessarily grounded in something other than His own arbitrary determination to forgive sins (the Muslim view), for if Allah forgives sins arbitrarily, then He's unjust. Thus, I was able to answer our Muslim friend's question with 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." At this point, our Muslim friends had to leave for their afternoon prayer, we shook hands, I thanked them for their time, and we went our separate ways.

Nebulous Theism and an Atheist

When I speak of nebulous theism, I'm referring to what Christian Smith has termed "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism", which is basically summed up in this way:
1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth." 2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions." 3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself." 4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem." 5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."
Most people I speak with affirm the above, and our relativistic society combined with the help of cotton candy "preachers" (read = religious motivational speakers) feeds it quite nicely. These folks are generally open to talk, at least up to a point. When I begin to speak of things like sin, righteousness, and judgment, they tend to turn me off, either mentally or they say, "I gotta go to class." I was speaking to one of these folks today, a young attractive woman, and this dark-skinned, Arab American young man walked up, interrupted our conversation and said, "Hey, do I know you? Would you like to talk to me?" I'm speaking to her about the gospel, and this guy interrupts me and proceeds to use cheesy pick-up lines to try to ask her out on a date. I then handed him a "Narrow Minded" postcard and said to him, "Hey, I'd like to talk to you about your soul since you're more concerned about this girl than you are about what's going to happen to you on the Day of Judgment." He awkwardly paused, said goodbye to the girl, and we attempted to resume our conversation; however, it was destroyed at that point, she wasn't interested in talking anyway, so we went our separate ways.

Finally, among the last two girls I spoke with, one claimed to be a believer and the other did too initially, then she confessed 5 minutes into the conversation that she was really an atheist. I then said, "So, you were lying to me?" and she laughed, and then "Yeah". So I said, "Why are you an atheist?" and she responded, "Well, I just feel like there's no god." So I said, "Hey, if I feel like it's okay to make up a god and claim that I must sacrifice children to appease this made-up god, would that be okay since I felt in my heart that it was true?" They both said, "No!" I then said to the atheist girl, "then how's that any different from what you are doing?" If you determine truth by your feelings, then what feels right to you may not feel right to me and you have no way to contradict me since you determine what's true based upon your feelings. Thus, given your justification for your worldview, I can sacrifice children to appease my made-up god and you can't provide me any logical reason why I'm wrong since you use the same justification for your own worldview." At this point, she said, "Okay, I gotta go to class." I tried to offer her a Sinner Ministries card and commended the website link on it but she said, "No, I don't want to go to any website . . . I don't want to get a virus in my computer." I let her and her faux "christan" friend go their merry way since they both were more interested in upholding pipe dreams than having respectful and rational conversation. I have found that time and time again atheists like her have no desire to even have rational conversation. I realize that they think we're real nutjobs. We expect as much (1 Cor. 1:18); but I sure would appreciate a decent conversation with them at times, especially when their statements are shown to be self-defeating. They could learn much from the respectful behavior exhibited by our Muslim friends mentioned above. However, given naturalistic presuppositions, why bother?

In conclusion, I look forward to continued evangelistic discussions on campus by asking thoughtful questions to challenge people to think carefully about the foundations of their worldview. May God bless these efforts and may I maintain a loving and caring disposition as I interact with those who are both respectful and disrespectful. Soli Deo Gloria!


  1. I always enjoy reading your reports. Glad to see you're back at it again.

    God bless.

  2. Jonathan,

    Glad to be an encouragement.

    Blessings to you too!

  3. What are the suras you used to establish your argument with the Muslims?