12/2/10 Lena, Brad, both about 22
"There but for the grace of God go I" As I share the gospel on a regular basis I'm constantly reminded of who I really am if it wasn't for the grace of God working in me. Today I met with Santosh, an IIT grad student and fellow believer at church. We headed to Starbucks, where we met two education students named Lena and Brad. Brad's mother was a legalistic Baptist and as he grew older he realized she was merely going through the motions of faith, and he rejected organized religion and the idea of a personal God who holds people accountable. He seemed to have been greatly influenced by Lena, whose mother encouraged her to try different religions as she grew up, which she did. She ended up in the "Ünity Church of Practical Christianity", having served as a youth leader for several years and is now in a regional position of some sort for the Chicago area. Lena agrees with her "church" teachings that there is no personal God (therefore he can't get angry with us); that we create our own reality through the power of thought; that there is no good or evil (only things that make you feel bad or good, which affects ones ability to create your own reality); and that the Bible is just a collection of allegorical stories. Lena kept referring to the importance of having fun, laughing a lot, and enjoying life when it comes to religion, and all references to what she perceived as "good" were based on how well they made her feel. She denied any sense of right or wrong, even when it came to extremes like Hitler and the Holocaust. We talked on a more theoretical level, but later it hit me how horrible the reality of what she was saying really was - millions of people being tortured and killed wouldn't be a bad thing unless she felt bad about it. Since having an "öpen mind" seemed to be one of her highest ideals, I appealed to the possibility of a personal God who holds us accountable for our actions - but she and Brad mocked the idea of a God who would "lord it over them" and tell them what to do. They were becoming uncomfortable with my questions about accountability to God, so as they prepared to leave I warned them that, just as an atheist can't erase God by refusing to believe in Him, so they can't erase God's laws by refusing to believe in them either.
In hindsight, I believe I could have taken a better approach: Lena claimed to have read the Bible through seven times and that she accepts all other religions. I could have asked what she knew of biblical Christianity, correcting her false perceptions as she went. At least that would have allowed the gospel to be more clearly discussed.