I found a man named Andrew, mid 20's, sitting at our local coffeeshop listening to music on his headphones. He was more than happy to share his views on eternity. I quickly found out he is the lead guitarist in his band, about to put out their second CD. Andrew grew up Episcopalian but felt turned off by church in his teens and is now generally accepting of all religions. He is very passionate about the many problems of humanity and the environment and seems quick to accept his share of the blame, saying that if we want to change the world, we need to begin with ourselves.
Yet when I asked about the specifics of the Gospel, like our accountability toward God and our need for forgiveness, he became evasive, preferring to speak in generalities rather than getting specific. Its one thing to be passionate about sin and its effects in the world, but quite another thing to repent personally. King David showed personal repentance to God regarding his sin with Bathsheba when he wrote "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge." (Psalm 51) The crowd Peter preached to in Acts 2 showed personal repentance when they were "cut to the heart" and asked “Brothers, what shall we do?” They were sorry for their sins and actively sought steps they could take in repentance.
Having a general passion against evil, in society and/or in oneself, falls short of repentance. As I talked with Andrew, I think I found out one reason he lacks that personal repentance - he doesn't believe in a personal God. His idea of "God" is more like a general force for good, like Karma, rather than a specific personality like a Heavenly Father. It's hard to be "cut to the heart" at the thought of personally offending an impersonal "god".
PS - Click here to see Andrew and his band!