Interaction with a self proclaimed Pagan at street evangelism!

Posted: July 13, 2013 in General
Tags: , ,

Hey folks!

Thought I’d post an account of my interactions with a self-proclaimed pagan today at one of my churches events called ‘street life’ where we try to go out and share the gospel with folks.

This time we had some sheets that were used to get folks to put down 5 questions that they if they could ask a Christian or a Church and get them answered, then they could have at an event we are going to put on. The most popular questions that come in will be the ones that are used. I found these sheets to be a great evangelistic tool of sorts as it instantly had people talking about what they thought and what they believed – which for someone who is committed to the presuppositional apologetic method is a really good thing! So, here are some highlights of the account – I can’t remember everything that was said or exactly how I said it, but I will try to summarise it below and  show the route I tried to steer the conversation as I saw more of his worldview unpacking as he explained it to me. The conversation was a very good one in terms of how it was done in a very respectful and amiable tone by both parties and it ended very well. I tried my best to bring in as much of the Christian worldview (by telling him what certain bible verses said on the matters) through the discussion and show how Christianity accounts for all of that we discussed as well as the aspects of his position that he wanted to hold, but didn’t have a reason for thinking they were true.

So basically i had no idea what he believed from the get go- so standard procedure in those positions, as Greg Bahnsen would state it, is simply give them enough rope to hang themselves – let them keep on talking about what they believe until they tie themselves up in knots and create enough inconsistencies in their own position to bring everything tumbling down when you call them on it. Remember,  these folks do not have a perfectly consistent revelation from the mind of an omniscient God – they are making this stuff up as they are going on in their own lives there are always contradictions, things taken for granted, and misconceptions, so, given enough time and information, they will show themselves.

I opened with asking him if he had any questions about Christianity  – he said that he didn’t, I asked him what the word ‘gospel’ meant to him (was one of the questions on the sheet). He said ‘black gospel choirs’. So I asked if I could present the the gospel to him and he agreed. I did so, and he stated that he was a Pagan.  I asked questions about his position; he was basically taking a lot of what he considered to be good from other religions to make a mash up under the standard of ‘don’t do bad stuff to people, just do good’ things to people. I then asked him how he knew what was good and what wasn’t good. He said that it was down to personal conviction and what he had gleaned from other religions. I asked him by what standard he decided what parts were ‘good’ and ‘not good’ in all those religions. Essentially it was simply whatever he personally liked and thought were agreeable. (Now obviously this highlights that, because it is simply subjective, he doesn’t have any ability to really say that anything is *actually* true. The most he can say is that it is his own personal opinion that it is true – at which we can simply state another opinion that would be contrary to his own and he would have to be ok with that as that was his standard of truth).

I then started to talk about his position of subjectivitiy in morality and how he didn’t have an ultimate standard to appeal to in order to make absolute judgements in regards to what was right and what was wrong. I showed him the problem of what that would look like in the real world, ie, everyone doing what they think is right in their own eyes and nobody having the ability to say that anything was really wrong or right. He said he would try to convince someone of his position, to which I asked him why he would do that… He didn’t really have an answer for that. (here is an inconsistency here – why, if morality is ultimately subjective, and everyone’s opinion is as good as everyone else’s, would you try to convince someone of your own personal morality? Here you can see that there is a bit of desire for wanting an ultimate standard being applied to other people. That in actuality he wants to have an absolute standard – the problem is that he wants it to be *his* standard. In one hand he is putting forward the idea of subjectivity being all well and good, but in the same breath wants to try to convince someone of his morality and have them live by that…).

He later stated something that I caught on to: he said something along the lines of ‘there are always other opinions [implied that they all are equally viable]’. This essentially is post-modernism in a nutshell being expressed – the idea that truth is ultimately relative to the person.  (The problem with this idea is when you are addressing laws that are universal in our experience, such as the laws of logic).

I, therefore, asked him if it is absolutely true that there are always other opinions [that are equally true]? He said yes, including the opinion that says that the above absolute truth statement could be wrong too.

The above is analogous to me saying: It is absolutely true that all opinions are equally true.

All that I need to say then is that my opinion is that ’it is false that all opinions are equally valid’. This creates a contradiction in his system of thought, because his absolute truth has my opinion being as valid as his absolute truth statement. He has to affirm the negative of his own position at the same time as trying to make his position true. This is a denial of the law of non-contradiction in logic.

 If someone affirms that person A’s position is true, and person B who holds the opposite position is also said to be true in their position, they have denied the law of non-contradiction – it makes the system incoherent. Logic cannot survive in a fully post-modern worldview, and if their worldview cannot account for, or work with the laws of logic, then that worldview is false as it cannot account for those universal laws that we see and use constantly in our day to day experience at such a fundamental level.

We discussed this and his answer was to bring up Schrödinger’s cat, ie the idea that in quantum physics, there is the idea of superposition – roughly stated; that some things are said to be both true and false at the same time until observed. To which I responded that (A) there is not just one theory of quantum physics, there are others, and also the fact that the laws of logic apply to quantum physics as well.  Even the idea of schrodingers cat has to be logically either a true proposition or a false one, so logic still applies  – you aren’t really escaping anything by appealing to a thought experiment used to try to show paradox in the theory of quantum physics. You can’t use quantum physics to somehow undermine the laws of logic. There is no way around it. In the end he still had to use the law of non-contradiction to make the truth claim.

His response was simply to make a motion of his brains coming out of his head and say something like ‘wow, ok, brain blown’, as he understood my point that logic even applies over quantum physics.

I then said that we have to have a standard by which we can objectively and absolutely judge these issues and pointed him to scripture. He appeared to agree, but at the same time didn’t want to for the reason that he didn’t like some of the things that scripture had to say. He had an idea of what was right and wanted to stick to it. He wanted to have the authority to judge scripture and make up his own standards. He didn’t like being told what to do by scripture even though his own position wouldn’t allow him to claim what he wanted to in regards to prescribing for moral values, or accounting for logic, he still wanted to hold on to it because he wanted to make his own rules.

This reminded me of the verse in Judges:

Judges 21:25: In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

As you may know – things were pretty chaotic at that time for Israel.

To finish, he was really excited about wanting to come to the ‘ask questions’ church event and was really curios about learning more and asking more questions. I prayed with him and then he left.

Overall I really enjoyed the discussion and appreciated his willingness to talk! It again showed me that I need to know my Bible, how it all fits together, and how it applies to the world we live in and to be able to show how it accounts for the same things I am asking the unbeliever to account for!

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