Last night I had a weird, and yet typical, experience.
I was at Safeway, minding my own business and shopping, when at customer service I had a polite and enjoyable conversation with the customer service representative. In the flow of conversation, she asked me what I did for a living and I told her I was a pastor. Polite comments were exchanged and I turned to leave, but not before an interesting looking fellow (i.e. think “I belong to a medieval club”) interjected from behind me, rather loudly, with a “so what kind of church do you pastor?”
I stepped to the side to make room for other customers and informed him about Cornerstone. He came closer and, being clearly aggressive, made his proud announcement that he was a “recovering Catholic” who had “discovered the truth”.
I listened while he told me that he discovered “Richard Dawkins”, who is apparently synonymous with “the truth”. He then proceeded to start barraging me with a list of questions that “nobody could ever answer”, and then, realizing that my wife and I weren’t going to simply avoid interaction with a polite “I’m glad you’ve found a new religion” (we were heading somewhere), I proceeded to engage him for a little:
I asked him for his reasons as to why he wasn’t a believer.
He commented about all the contradictions in the Bible, so I asked him to list them. He came up with 6 ‘contradictions’ (most of which were simple “I don’t understand this” comments, like why Jesus has multiple genealogies in the NT) after around 5-7 minutes of questioning.
I asked him whether or not he would bow his knee to Christ if I could provide a reasonable explanation for all his ‘contradictions’ and he was caught off guard, as is fairly typical, and said “well answer them first”.
He figured I was bluffing and pushed me to answer them all, and I pushed back that I wouldn’t waste my time if he wasn’t being honest in giving me all his reasons.
He struggled to come up with more and then could not, so I asked him to pick the ‘hardest’ contradiction, which was the impossibility of the resurrection. After a short batch of comments, I essentially pointed out to him that “the impossibility of the resurrection” wasn’t a contradiction between passages of the Bible or with reason, and he (as per usual) didn’t have a whole lot of defense for his doubt.
He then addressed the unlikelihood of the Genesis flood, and after a few minutes of trying to actually find a verifiable question in that issue, I then asked him whether or not he was any closer to faith in Christ. He said “no”, and I then asked him to make sense of that for me (i.e. if these are your reasons and I’ve chopped through 2 of 6, shouldn’t you be 30% closer to Jesus?).
He tried to side-track me with a bunch of the typical questions (i.e. “so you’re saying that if I am not a Christian, I go to hell?”), and I gave him the typical answers (i.e. “no, I don’t believe that at all because the Bible doesn’t teach that.”)
I pressed ahead and explained the situation to him (i.e. he’s so angry at the God he doesn’t believe in that he’s picking theological fights in a Safeway) and talked about sin, the law of God, and the death and resurrection of Christ. He was fairly caught off guard and was not expecting to have the conversation turn into a confrontation with the gospel, but he strangely asked me my name and where I was a pastor again.
Interesting how arguing about the flood, or the genealogies in Mathew and Luke, or the various “contradictions” in the Bible don’t really get you anywhere except arguing about more “contradictions”. Punching through the symptoms (justification for unbelief) and getting to the sickness (the rebellious heart) is what we’re supposed to do when we share the gospel; arguing about bible contradictions isn’t actually witnessing.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “The Armchair Presupper” Unger