Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I know David Johndrow...and sir, you are no David Johndrow!

The past 10 days have been...shall we say...unique for me. It's not unusual at all to be in an exchange via email or on Facebook at any given time with an atheist or agnostic about God. I've also had a number of face to face discussions too. Honestly, I quite enjoy the opportunity to witness for a Savior who has done so much in my life.

But for the past week and a half, I've been engaged with with two agnostics (one a friend through sports broadcasting), two atheist, a Muslim, two close friends who rest their hats on the predestination rack, four young people from church struggling with issues of faith and all the while teaching a Sunday School class on apologetics.

You know what they say about too much of a good thing...

I'm going to exclude my two Calvinist friends because our dialogue has been ongoing for awhile. I also consider both crucial pieces God has used in the puzzle of my life (you're just not corner pieces...lol ). I love my friends...we just happen to read differently.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (New King James Version)
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Paul gave some valuable counsel to Timothy. He would have paid a fortune in psychologist fees today for the stuff Paul laid on him. And we still continue to profit from those words...thank God!

Here's another verse I get beat up with often. Believe it or not, my ongoing correspondence with the Muslim has been very rewarding. We connected through a work associate in Turkey who knew my colors. It just so happens I've read and studied the Koran, and I think my working knowledge has been a definite benefit in explaining why we don't worship the same God.

The young people who are going through a bit of a challenge were hit with another blow as a young man from our church was killed in a tragic accident last week. He was 28, married with a one year old daughter. He comes from a family tremendously strong in their faith in God. Though his death was truly tragic...his lasting testimony will glorify God for many years to come and gave us great talking points to work through.

I too easily relate to the agnostic because of my own journey. Having a common point of reference and empathy for the ongoing search to fill the 'soul hole', my confidence is lifted in providing good discussions. I believe I'm most patient when discussing God with folks from this group.

Now here comes my struggle...the atheist. Wow is it hard to be gentle here Father. I've often remarked, rather offhandedly, that atheism is a mental illness, and maybe that's just not fair. It's definitely not Christ-like. I just get so frustrated trying to convince someone that belief in God takes no more faith than belief there is no supreme being at all. Actually, I'm convinced it takes far more faith to believe the latter...with the gravest of consequences.

I have to keep reminding myself God gave us the ability to choose to believe or not to believe, and I'm not going to change the decision not to believe in some. With apologies to my Calvinist friends of course...


Anonymous said...

Personally, I think it is non-productive to say:
It just so happens I've read and studied the Koran, and I think my working knowledge has been a definite benefit in explaining why we don't worship the same God.

I am a Christian, not a Muslim. It would be better to say that the Muslim understanding and view of God is different than the Christian - there is a good book by a Michael Lohdal that discusses the different theological views portrayed in the same stories as recounted in the Qur'an and the Bible.

Muslims believe in the God of Abraham. I think we would do well to respect their self-declaration of who they serve. We can then point out the difference in our views and understanding of God - particularly the role of Jesus.

The Center for Ministry to Muslims is also very helpful with material. They can be found at http://www.cmmequip.org/

Tony C said...

In talking to a committed Muslim, I would agree. But this individual is searching for something else and being drawn to Christ. He was quite surprised to know as a Christian I was familiar with the Koran and that both faith come through Abraham.

I don't agree that Muslims believe in the same God of Abraham that we as Christians do though and that our take on the same ancient stories are just from a different perspective. Here's why: Our view of the Holy Trinity conflicts with the Muslim concepts of monotheism (as well as Judaism, the other Abrahamic religion). I think it goes deeper than the role of Jesus as our divine Savior.

Thank you for your comment and insight.

Anonymous said...

I am torn between letting your statements stand. I also don't want to be guilty of wanting to have the last word.
That said, Muslims self-affirmation is that they believe in the God of Abraham. Jews also self-affirm the same. Neither have an adequate, or in my opinion correct understanding of Jesus. And I agree with you that a trinitarian view is critical to an understanding of God.
In my opinion however, you are heading down a slippery slope that is a huge hindrance to Muslims. While I don't think you are saying that Christians are not monotheistic, it could be interpreted that this is your position.
I also am concerned that we avoid arrogance. I do not know every thing there is to know about God. I do not know exactly how He does what He does. I understand the trinity to a point, but it in the terms of Catholic theology (I am not Catholic if it matters) - it is a mystery.
I am not defending Muslim theology. I am attempting to correct misconceptions though.
On that line, I have family members who are Muslims. I know how difficult life becomes when people have misconceptions.

David said...

I know David too... but he is not a Muslim. He was an atheists, figured everything out and was waiting for science to catch up. Then God showed up and wrecked his intellectual pile of knowledge.

Tony - you are much better at the purposeful debate than I am. I am more like, God, if yo don't do something here, they are never going t know God.

Amazingly, the Lord said that they would know us by our love. I am hoping that's enough.

Mental illness - how arrogant. :o)

Michelle said...

I'll be quite and agree that with what Timothy said.

And BTW and I'm not here for dialogue...just to comment.- I don't refer to myself as a Calvinist. I refer to myself as a follower of Christ, not John Calvin. I do agree with many of the things John Calvin has said...but probably would be considered more a Spurgeonist, or an Edwardsist...if we go by the names of men. Or more importantly... a Paulinian. :D

Tony C said...

I promise I have never referred to you before this post as my Calvinist friend Michelle.

Or for that matter, my Paulinian friend Michelle.

I just say my crazy friend Michelle...with all the love in my heart!

Thanks for being a blessing in my life.

eaglegirl said...

I can relate to the atheist. Once Paul and I had a long car ride with one. We answered all her questions, Paul handled the more intellectual me the more experiential.
Well, she eventually agreed with everything. Finally, we were like 'so do you want to ask Jesus to be your Savior, since you agree now?'
Nope, and the reason we realized was that she did not want to give up her lifestyle of living with her boyfriend. And we had not even mentioned that.
So, even will all the intellectual answers being satisfied I think it is a 'matter of the heart'.
And Tony you know of course that you are planting seeds and someone else may reap them.
Keep on keeping on.