9/15/12 Harley, about 50
With all the rioting of religious extremists in the headlines, it is tempting and easy to disassociate from them by agreeing with the conventional wisdom that "all religions are pretty much the same anyway". I talked to Harley, a "good ole' boy" type whom I ran into as he and a friend met on the sidewalk. His friend had a case of beer and they were set to go on a beer-drinking binge, but Harley was very interested in talking about his religious convictions. He told me he had grown up with a Pentecostal mother and Catholic father, and the resulting Protestant/Catholic arguments had caused him to ask and research religious questions for himself. His conclusion? "God is like a mountain that has many paths to get to the top. All religions are basically the same" he said. With that mindset, I knew that it also means that peaceful Christians are lumped together with the violent Muslim extremists, so it was hard to insist on the uniqueness of Christianity without sounding like one of these zealots. Instead, I started by pointing out that, morally and ethically, the major world religions do indeed have much in common. Why? "Since the fall of Adam into sin and rebellion, all people have been given a conscience - the knowledge of good and evil. We know right from wrong yet all too often choose to do the wrong thing anyway. A just God demands consequences, and religion is man's attempt to get back into a right and just relationship with a holy and just God. The disagreement is basically over the correct way to do so." At this point, Harley's friend, who wanted to go and party rather than stay and listen, finally convinced him it was time to get going. Oh how I wanted to complete the story of how and why we can only have a right relationship with God through Christ, as Paul wrote in Galatians 2:21 "...if righteousness could be gained through the law (or other religion's rules), Christ died for nothing!” Though I couldn't finish the conversation, I believe I got Harley's attention and fanned his curiosity to read what I gave him, a small book by Mark Cahill called "The Second Greatest Lie Ever Told" which deals directly with this subject. (Available at a low price for mass distribution on his website at www.MarkCahill.org) I have my name and number written inside the book - please pray that Harley will read it and call me back so we can finish our conversation!