11/29/09 John, about 40
At a laundromat I talked with John while he was folding his clothes. He was baptized as an infant in a Lutheran church but is no longer a churchgoer. "I believe in God but I don't trust churches" he told me. He believes that churches use the Bible for their own interest and can't be trusted. He believes some of the Bible may have been inspired by God but thinks it too has been corrupted by people over the years to the point that it can't be trusted. He agreed with me that all he can do is pick and choose which parts of the Bible he wants to believe and which he doesn't. I told him of my belief that the same divine intervention that inspired the Bible has also preserved it through the centuries. John agreed that this is possible but thinks that God should reveal himself to humanity every few centuries to keep us on the right track. He showed no conviction when exposed to the Ten Commandments - "What about all the other laws of Moses, why don't we have to obey them?" He used this to bolster his argument that churches manipulate the Bible. Throughout our conversation John stated several times that it is "the height of arrogance for people to think they know anything about God or to claim that they are saved". I told him that I have been called arrogant before by people who have their own ideas about God, but at least my ideas are based on an outside source - the Bible - and not my own personal preferences. Instead I believe it takes a lot of humility to submit to biblical truths about God that I may not agree with at first. I warned John before I left about the tendency in our day to break the second commandment against worshipping idols by creating an image of "god" in our minds that we are more comfortable worshipping than the God of the Bible.