Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Sunday School answer is still the best one

So I was making my way out after listening to the lunchtime talk from Joe Boot on whether Christianity is restrictive or promises true freedom with a non-Christian friend. I confess, I think he did ramble on a bit, and I wasn't sure if he really spoke to the heart as well as to the mind, as it were. But it was all in all a good presentation contending for the intellectual credibility of the Christian faith, and he marshalled the philosophical arguments well.

Anyway, I then noticed a girl whom I had chatted to briefly last night at another event, and so decided to go over and say hi. And got ambushed.

Me: Oh, hi... (interrupted)

Girl: (obviously still buzzing from the talk, speaking at 100mph) Yeah wasn't that a really good talk but I really disagreed with him as I think it was all based on an assumption that needn't be made that life had to find its meaning in God I mean we can obviously derive meaning from other things like family or friends and find fulfillment in that don't you think?

Me: (trying to pick myself up from the bullet train in front of me) Errr...yes...but isn't it, um, true, um, that his central point was how much life would simply be meaningless without a God? And um, what an empty life that would be?

Girl: Sure but do you really need a God for that I mean I don't see why you need God for life to be meaningful at all when you can be perfectly happy with what you've got at the moment...

Me: (screaming silently at brain to come back from lunch break and voicebox to stop stuttering) Yes, I can see where you're coming from... (obviously stalling for time while brain wakes up from siesta) um, what you're saying is that ultimately, there's no reason why it can't be up to us to find our own meaning in life...

Girl: Yes... (looks expectantly at me while I desperately attempt to look to be in deep contemplation)

Me: Errm...(here I started a sentence - twice - before hastily rephrasing it)That's interesting, as um, I think he (Joe Boot) chose a particular line looking at how ultimately only Christianity lends our lives deep meaning. But you're right, why shouldn't we be able to um, make our own meaning? But the question isn't simply pragmatic, it isn't just about where we find meaning or fulfillment or happiness, it's also about truth. If God is God, if he's real, he's there, then surely he's the one who has the final say as to where we find real meaning or happiness? I mean, if there's no God, then you're right, we can invest meaning in whatever we wish. But if God is there, then surely he's the one whom we derive meaning from, and so we want to live in conformity with what he says.

Girl: (finally slowing down a little) I what you're saying is, there's actually another issue at stake here, whether God exists or not...

Me: (Whew!) Yes, exactly, that's what we need to think about first...

Girl: But...I don't see how that question can ever be answered. I don't think there's any way we can ever find out if God does exist or not.

Me: (depending on reflex at this point, and probably the Holy Spirit) That's interesting, because that's exactly what the Christian claim is. You know, in John's Gospel, it says that we can actually find out whether God exists, what he's like because, because, and this is what Christians believe, Jesus has made God known. Look at Jesus, Christians say, and you'll know God.

Girl: ...never really thought about that before...

Me: And so Christians will say, look at Jesus' claims. What's he like? Is he whom he says he is? I mean, if he isn't, then Christianity falls completely. But if he is, can you see how that completely changes everything? (Girl nods) It just turns your world upside down! So we need to find out more about Jesus. He's the pivotal figure.

Girl: So you're saying I need to go find out more about Jesus because he's basically the pivot, the one on which everything stands? Yeah I can see that.

Me: Do you think you'll be exploring more on this then?

Girl: Yeah, I think I will! Got to go!

Me: (still slightly dazed) What just happened??

The conversation lasted, I think, only 7 minutes or so, but I don't think I've quite wrapped my head around it just yet. But I guess, the Sunday School answer is really, still the best one. I certainly hope she'll realise that.

*Conversation not verbatim obviously, but I think I've reproduced the phrasing fairly accurately

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Blogger pearlie said...

Sunday School answer? What Sunday School answer?

You did well. Better than I, had I been in your shoes :) and had I even been more alert than you.

2:26 am  
Blogger BK said...

you know, put yourselves in the shoes of a 5-year old at Sunday School, and the teacher has just asked you a question which you can't make heads or tails off. But you put your hand up anyway, because you can't go too far wrong with... "Jesus!!!"


7:02 pm  
Blogger pearlie said...

I see ... well, considering that you drew blanks, I thought that when you finally were able to gather your thoughts, you did very well - better than I would have managed.

Actually, your title attracted me to your post (see how important titles are :) and as I read it, I was trying to get to the SS answer but when I finished reading, I had to look back to see where I have missed it! haha ...

12:53 am  
Blogger Kar Yong said...

This is a good one! One that all seminarians must remember.... :-)

11:57 am  

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