Friday, February 10, 2017

Evangelization

I have been giving one of Kubota's friends a ride to school every day this year.  He lives in a community 25 minutes away.  I enjoy his company and we have had some excellent discussions in our 25 minutes together.

Yesterday he told me about five kids who got into a fight on a bus.  One kid was a "Science" kid and the other four were "Bible" kids.  The fight started when one kid called another kid "Stupid". At the end of the narrative, Kubota's friend told me he considered himself a "Science" kid.

After prayer and consideration I decided to make a sales pitch for the Bible on today's ride in.  Based on what I picked up, it seemed very unlikely that he would ever pick one up and read it on his own.  "Science" kids almost act as if Bibles are radioactive.

Selling parts of the Bible
It is not difficult to sell refrigerators to Eskimos if you show them that it keeps the varmints out of their food.  Their needs are different than the needs of folks in Michigan.  A successful sale involves looking at things from the Eskimo's point of view.  If, later, he figures out that it will keep foods cold during the brief summer...well, that is good too.

I had twenty-five minutes.  I planned to use the all.

Survivors

I started out talking about "survivors".  Any organism, device or code-of-beliefs that survived essentially unchanged for 4000 years deserved study.  A redwood...a very successful organism.  Ancestral Puebloan agriculture...a game changer.  The Bible...worthy of study if only for its longevity.  Many competitors tried to muscle in on these survivors, presumably new-and-improved competitors.  The competitors ended up on the ash-heap of history, but not the survivors.  The differences are worth studying.

Cars

Then I asked him what assumptions he would make if he saw a two-year-old Camry that was all beat up?  Smashed headlights, fenders caved in, air bags deployed.  What would he think of that driver's internal ruleset for driving?  (Answer:  He is a crappy driver)

Then I asked him what he would think of a Ford Model A that was in near pristine condition, in such good shape he would have qualms about hopping into it and driving to California?  What would he think about that driver's rule set.  (Answer:  A gentle driver and good at maintenance)

So I asked him to keep in mind that the Jewish people, never very numerous, managed to survive intact...like that Model A... for 4000-to-6000 years.  And the Old Testament was their maintenance manual.

Tests of behavior
I told him that from a "Scientific Point of View" that Exodus was probably the most interesting part of the Bible.

If you were going to test a code-of-behavior you would take a group of people too large for the bonds-of-family to hold it together but small enough that fragmenting would bring extinction.  Then you would have that group wander hostile territory for two generations.  It would be a bit like being trapped in an elevator for forty years.  Close confines and inability to escape puts heavy demands on rule-sets.

The territory was a hostile environment.  It was a desert.  It was hostile because the inhabitants did not want strangers consuming scarce resources.  There was a tremendous amount of external stress, which undoubtedly created a great deal of internal stresses.

It was helpful that Kubota's friend had recently read Lord of the Flies in class.  He could see how the dynamics of small groups could hurl the group into the abyss.

Counter Arguments
Out of respect for the Scientific Method, I felt compelled to tell him what "the other side" would be likely to argue.

  • "The Bible is old.  We are much smarter now.  Modern ways of doing things are superior."

I took him back to the elevator.  I said, "Imagine the elevator doors open up and there is a party going on.  Food is everywhere.  There are good things to drink.  There is music.  People scattered around talking. It is a party."  The difference between the elevator and the party involved the relative scarcity of resources, not that one group was "smarter" than the other.  The rules for behavior on the elevator were not invalidated by the party.  Rather, the abundant resources of the party diluted the consequences of following those rules.  But there were still consequences.

Boorish behavior was still boorish.  Nobody farts on an elevator but some people might not see a problem with farting at a party.

  • "The Biblical rules are severe and unkind.  Modern standards are kinder and gentler."
Due to the enforced togetherness, antisocial behaviors had to be addressed quickly and firmly or the Jewish people would be destroyed.  Not addressing antisocial behaviors is not "kindness", it is cowardice.  Our wealth allows us to kick the can down the road...but when has that ever been the most correct strategy?

Why the focus on the Old Testament?
I did not speak to the New Testament during our twenty-five minutes together.  That is very non-traditional for somebody making a sales pitch for the Bible (and Christianity).

The reason for my focus on the Old Testament is because "Science" focuses on the Old Testament.  You kill a snake by cutting off the head, not by dancing around it.  You cannot "decontaminate" the Bible in the eyes of a "Science" kid unless you talk about the Old Testament.

Your mileage will vary
Some Christians I know will be apoplectic.  That is just not how these things are done.

I figure they had their chance.  There are kids like this hiding in plain sight.  They are EVERYWHERE!

I also figured that "Science" kids are, at heart, rational.  I am not sure if they are ready to hear about your passion about Jesus Christ when they have an adverse, negative reaction to all things religious.

If the kid picks up the Bible and starts reading; if the kid starts attending a church, I figured it was only fair for me to leave some work for the Holy Spirit.  He has a lot more practice at this kind of thing than I do.

2 comments:

  1. As you might remember, I am a Christian, and at one time in the distant past, attended the Grand Rapids school of the Bible and Music. I of course, love the Bible, I myself am a King James person, I find the beauty and majesty of the language something that resonates with me. I especially have a love for the Old Testament. One of the classes I took was an O.T. survey. Our professor said that if you wanted to understand the Bible, you had to understand the Old Testament, and if you wanted to understand the O.T., you needed to understand Genesis, and to understand Genesis, you needed to know Genesis 12. That deals with the call of Abraham. I think you have done well with your young friend. There is no underestimating the power of the Holy Spirit. I will pray that this young person is drawn to Him, through your ministry, as I recall it, during my prayer time. I also will hold you and yours up, as well. Blessings to you all.

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