I love doing ministry in a college town! It's fresh and dynamic. Regularly students come to me with their assignments, needing questions answered. They usually come a bit late and close to the due date. I do what I can to make time for these divine interruptions, seeing them as opportunities to give a reason for my hope and let the Gospel "sound forth."
A student named Kevin sent me an email last Friday on behalf of a friend and his assignment that was due early this week. While I sat on the plane last Friday, I fired off some quick and rough "shoot from the hip" answers to the following 10 questions. And then I had an opportunity to interact with Kevin and his friend on Sunday. I think the conversation will continue in person down the road.
I thought my answers might benefit others who are in the game of engaging with those who do not yet believe (and I hope you are!). Once more, I believe a Gospel worldview is reasonable and defensible to today's post-Christian world. This is really how I try to talk to people when I have the opportunity to open my mouth for the sake of Christ. What you've heard me say on Sunday morning again and again is exactly what I look to say with any unbeliever . . . .
1. Why did you choose to become a pastor? Do you think it was a calling from God?
Yes, I believe it was a calling from God. I was a business economics major planning on pursuing a career in business, when God redirected my future. Essentially, I realized I wanted to invest my life in things of lasting and eternal significance.
2. Did you grow up in a Christian family? If so, did you have any doubts when you were growing up? If not, what triggered you to believe in the Christian Religion?
I did grow up in a Christian family. I experienced a period of doubt and deconstruction of my beliefs in high school after the tragic death of an uncle. Reading and exploration of other worldviews lead me back to Christianity, as I recognized the person and cross of Christ as the best fit hypothesis to explain the world as we know and experience it. I continue to have my doubts and have embraced doubt as a dimension of faith.
3. What is your view on Christian agnostics?
I am not sure what a Christian agnostic is. An agnostic is someone who believes that God exists, but that he cannot be known in a personal way. I am not sure how someone might legitimately be a "Christian agnostic."
4. What is your view on the comparison on the God of the Old and the New Testament?
The God the Bible is the same in both Testaments who makes himself and his plan of redemption known progressively through history and climactically in the person of Jesus Christ. The OT God of wrath and NT God of grace and love is a false dichotomy, a charicature and an inaccurate reading of the Bible. God is holy and just, so He is angry toward and punishes sin. At the same time He is graceful and loving toward sinners. The promise of God to redeem a fallen world and humanity begins on page 3 (Genesis 3:15) of the Bible and is finally realized in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, looking forward to a full consummation at the return of Jesus. At the cross, God's holiness and love meet. At the cross, God is just, but also justifies sinners.
5. What is your view on subjective morality, is it plausible?
Subjective morality is non-sensical. Apart from a creator, all morality is a human construct and there is no defensible basis for it. . . neither majority or might. And yet everyone admits that certain acts are wrong. . .we know it, we feel it. . . . .acutely when a daughter is raped or a spouse is murdered . . . . . morality inevitably lead us back to God, the moral-maker.
6. How would you define purpose?
Our purpose or the word "purpose"? I believe the Bible teaches that humanity exists to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
7. What is your view on the origin of the human mind?
I believe and the Bible teaches that humankind is uniquely and specially made in "the image of God." The human mind is just one part of the human person. . . one part of this image-bearing package.
8. Catholics believe in purgatory, but why don't the Protestants believe in purgatory?
Protestants do not believe in purgatory, because they are unconvinced that purgatory is taught in the Bible. For protestants, the Bible is the final authority and arbiter of Christian belief and practice.
9. Is there a possibility that God does not exist?
Yes, there is a possibility that God does not exist. My own view is that it takes more faith to believe that God does not exist than to believe that He does exist. Beauty, love, simplicity/complexity, intelligent design everywhere we look, our deep human longings and feelings, our human brokenness and the implicit morality of the universe all point to the existence of God. I, personally, am not prepared to abandon these realities and embrace an accidental, purely material universe hurling toward an unknown trajectory.
10. Salvation according to some Christians comes from taking Jesus as your god and accepting the claimed blood sacrifice, while on the other hand, Jesus seems to be saying the opposite. Why is that? Aren't Christians supposed to follow the teachings of Jesus', why would Jesus contradict today's Christians?
There are two ways to know God.
1. Live a perfect, sinless life the holiness of God requires. (Go ahead and try!)
2. Trust Jesus, the substitute that God provides who lives the life that we should live and dies the death that we deserve.
Jesus, throughout his ministry is continually erecting way #1 before the people who come to him, because they think they can "DO" something to inherit eternal life. He does so in in in order to lead them to way #2, faith in himself. He is saying. . . go ahead and try to save yourself .. . . in order to bring show their own inability and need for a Savior. I believe this is what the entire OT and history of Israel demonstrates. . . humankind's inability to DO what God actually requires. This is the beauty of the Gospel . . . Christ lives the life that God requires which uniquely qualifies him to die in the place of sinners.