11/19/09 Dan, 28
I went out for a jog and passed through the IIT campus where I struck up a conversation with Dan, a student in the College of Music. Dan had grown up in a Pentecostal family, attending church at least four times a week while growing up and witnessing miracles of healing and speaking in tongues. He really didn't seem to have anything bad to say about his church background but when he moved away from home he placed himself under the teaching of a Buddhist monk and martial arts teacher for the next seven years. He claimed to have witnessed many of the same kinds of healing miracles in the Buddhist temple as he did in church. He has also studied Islam extensively and is interested in all religions, but seems to favor Buddhist ideas of "enlightened" thinking, and often even interprets Jesus' teachings in Buddhist terms. I asked if he has witnessed "fire and brimstone" preaching when growing up, which he had, and we both agreed that it is often used as a form of manipulation by preachers. The problem is that hell seems unreasonable to most people, so we talked about why it is an appropriate punishment for disobeying a holy God. Despite his church upbringing, Dan still thought his goodness would save him if there was a judgment day, so I helped him take personal responsibility for his sin with exposure to some of God's 10 Commandments. "But God forgives me when I confess my sins to him, which I do all the time" he said, so I explained that there is a huge difference between legal forgiveness, which has to do with having a right standing before God through faith in Jesus who satisfies God's demand for justice, and relational forgiveness, which allows us to be in fellowship with God on a daily basis. I gave Dan a booklet which compares Christianity to other religions, and Dan said he will definitely read it soon.