Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A fake realist

I've been away for the last two weeks and haven't been able to get email access - very therapeutic! However, on my trip I got into a very interesting conversation with a man who runs a chip shop.

I was standing waiting for my order and he was telling me about how long he'd been running the place and lamenting the fact that he hadn't made his fortune yet. I made some comment to the effect, "As long as you get what you need..." He said that such a statement could only come from someone who has far more than he needs. I told him that I was indeed amazingly wealthy and actually had a mansion I haven't set foot in yet!

He knew what I was getting at, and smiled and told me he was "unconvertable". I told him that was a real pity because it is a wonderful thing to be saved. His response was that he was a realist. I assured him that I was too, I let him know that I don't believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but I do believe the Bible is the Word of God. I left him my card with this web address and away I went.

A week later I was back in the shop, this time there were quite a few in it and he was being helped behind the counter by a man called Joey. I didn't think I would initiate another conversation but Stephen actually started it! He shouted out, "You know what I watched the other night? The Da Vinci Code!" I told him that, because he's a realist, he would have looked into the claims of the film and discovered that they are utterly false!

He acknowledged it was nonsense but so was the belief that the universe was only 6,000 years old. With a shop full of customers and a relatively short period of time, I didn't want to get into the merits of or evidence for Young Earth Creationism, especially when so many devoted Bible believing Christians don't believe in a young earth. I told him that the age of the earth was neither here nor there, the problem he had was that the universe had a beginning, and if it had a beginning then it had a cause, because (being a realist) Stephen doesn't believe that things pop into existence out of nothing without a cause.

Stephen then changed course (showing he's not actually interested in pursuing the truth, but rather just looking for justification for his unbelief). He said that the biggest problem was when we started eating red meat which led to us asking questions about the universe and about ourselves! Whatever red meat has to do with it I'm not at all sure, I didn't think lions lay about in the jungle chewing on a gazelle wondering what their purpose in life really was! Anyway, he said that all these spiritual thoughts are just in our mind. I asked him then if the concept of right and wrong is just "in our mind", there is actually no such thing as an objectively wrong action. He agreed, so I pressed the issue further and said that, according to him, there was nothing actually wrong with what Hitler did, it's all in our minds. He cried foul, and said I was twisting his words, so I asked him to clarify - how had I twisted his words? I appealed to Joey, Joey just chuckled and agreed I hadn't misrepresented Stephen.

I was keen to get him to Scripture, and I asked him had he ever read Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22 or Daniel 9. He hadn't. I told him what those passages said, and how they described in vivid detail the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ, and told us when it would happen. I then used an illustration I've used in a different setting, but changed it to suit my current location. I asked him to imagine I told him that at a certain time tomorrow a man would come into his shop. I described what the man was driving, what he was wearing, and what he would order. So the next day at the stated time in came the man exactly as described, and he ordered exactly what I had said. I asked Stephen what he would make of such a scenario. He said he would conclude it was pre-planned. I agreed, because those sort of things can't be put down to fluke or lucky guess. So I asked him who pre-planned the events prophesied in these passages. He said he would believe that the prophesies had been written after the events. Now this can be easily disproved in many ways, and if there was even the slightest possibility that Christians had tampered with the Jewish texts do you not think the Jews would be telling us? To think that the early Christians, persecuted and scattered as they were, could have gathered up all the copies of the Old Testament Scriptures, changed them all, and smuggled them back into the keeping of the Jews without them ever noticing is far too much for any right thinking person to swallow. But what I said to Stephen at the time was that, being the realist he was, he would investigate the evidence and discover that the Dead Sea Scrolls have been dated to before the time of Christ and thus his theory cannot be true.

Queue another change of topic! He said that he just believes what's in front of him, so I told him to read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 and Daniel 9 and they would be right in front of him.

I then offered him a Gospel booklet and asked him if he would read it. He said he wouldn't. I told him it was because he was afraid the Gospel was true! I asked him to be a man, summon his courage and read it. He said he would. I pray he will. I pray you will be enough of a realist to accept the reality of God's revelation in creation, conscience and in Scripture, and bow before the Creator against whom we have sinned, the Creator who sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross.