Sunday, November 1, 2009

Conversation with Man from South America

In Calgary, last week, it became my chore to run an errand that involved riding a shuttle bus with one other person, the driver--a man, not young, originally from South America for about 40 min. (The above is not his real picture, btw.)

He was a real talkative guy, preacher material and he preached. I introduced myself first and he told me a bunch of things about himself right away. By the time we were in the vehicle, we already knew each other's family situations, how many children, grandchildren, how we like the Canadian winters and that I lost a son on an icy road. Being a family man, he was truly sympathetic.

By the time we hit Memorial Drive, he knew about what am doing, not doing, my education, my church involvement.

WELL! HE! is a kind of Catholic, but only to honor his mother. He has all these beefs about the church, etc. I always tell these disgruntled Catholic's that they would make very good Lutherans. But that's not what he wanted to hear.

No, no, no, when Jesus Christ comes, and he will come for sure (!), we will know by sure by his DNA (???) says the man. Christ will get his DNA checked out and we will know. Says I that's not what we're told how we'll know. Anyhow, make a long story short, Jesus Christ will be some kind of revolutionary setting up a brand new world on this earth. But he is not God and there is no eternal life, says he vehemently, after I inquire of him.

Says I, that's not what he said, and revolutionaries and Utopian dreams this world has also seen plenty of. I am going with a bunch of stuff from Uwe Siemon-Netto now. I pick on all his communist favorites, and how they all set up their own dictatorships and elite systems. How we can certainly work on improving our systems, but Christ's own kingdom is not of this world and he said so.

That was one thread. One other one had to do with all the badmouthing of Christianity he is always listening to on these rides, but really the Bible is a book of love, says he. There was a Muslim rider who told him about how everything a Christian believes the Muslim believes, too, that God is the same and Christ is the prophet, etc. but then he flips it around and says that the Christian God is really bad and punishes, and the apple in the garden all had to do with sex, and God demolished Sodom and Gomorrah, and all that is unjust, and God kills here and there and everywhere, and the crusades were bad, and the inquisition was bad, and now the poor Muslim gets blamed for 9-11, when it's really God's doing.

Somehow, he had absorbed this idea that God is to blame for everything and man for nothing, which needed to be countered. Human beings are always killing, yes, sometimes in the name of various religions, but more often in the name of no religion. A dozen atheist dictators killed 140 million civilians in the last century along (Truth Project). Etc.

Then he tells me about some "controversial" book that is coming out of South America, something to do with the Jews, etc. blah, blah, I interrupt him, we're almost back now, he talked for at least 80% of the time, and time for this non-sense to get a final reply. I picked up on his idea of the Bible being a book of love, and that it is we who are to be blamed and it is wrong to blame God, that Christ died for the forgiveness of sins, and what is changed are hearts not governements, that he said so himself, and that he promised everlasting life through him.

Then we were at the door and he wished me a good day, and I him. He did not seem entirely happy with me. He did say it was a good conversation and that I had listened to him.

May the Lord, make it so some good.

What this exchange makes me wonder is how many Christians would actually say something against all this non-sense and anti-Christian rhetoric. Are we in touch with what goes on in other people's minds? Are we ready? Do we need to prepare better? Do we need to learn and practice more apologetics? How much? How have things changed from the books we used to learn from regarding cults and other religions? Do we need additional confessional material that deals with all these other attacks?

From the blogging, I think, I can carry on a conversation like this without raising the blood pressure.

On the other hand, in talking with Martin, I wonder how much the RC church is involved in hardening poor people in South America, if it is implicated in a lot of oppression. Martin thought it might be. There are some cultural things, which we may not be aware of.

In any case, I keep running into people who are very sour on the Catholic church, and they, like some ex-Mormons, now don't want to have anything to do with a biblical Christ or the Christian church, which is terribly sad.

When I got back, and told my sister-in-law about this encounter she wondered how I get into these conversations and how on earth do you figure out what to say. It's really not that difficult, once you reveal anything about what you yourself think and believe or you mention Christ, or ask them questions about themselves. You have to have it in your mind, that you would like to have this conversation. This one, however, was dropped into my lap. Deal with it, Brigitte. But generally, it's easier with non-Canadians. Canadians can be non-controversial in the extreme. I'd rather talk with a hot South American revolutionary than deal with bland nothingness.


Bror Erickson said...

Deal with hot revolutionary South Americans, than bland nothing.
"You were lukewarm so I spit you out."
Funny these conversations. Interesting the thoughts people have. I have had some where I was dumbfounded and could only listen. Had nothing to answer, nothing to say. But after a while you find the devil is not so original. He uses the same kind of reasoning and deceptions over and over, it gets a bit easier to answer the questions.

Brigitte said...

Yes, the lukewarm thing comes to mind.

It's that, but also it's that they don't know that much, don't read that much, don't have an opinion and therefore, , by default are leery of anyone with a position.

The new generation is raised on movies and pop music and texting each other about inane things all day long. They have been reared by this commercialized programming.

There is also this "empty way of life."

Someone wrote in the blogosphere, there other day, forgot who and where, that we are stupid to let Dawkins and company set the content of a debate. I just don't see how you could go leaving this stuff unanswered.

I was reading the Formula of Concord some more on the way back (only got 20 pages done from Red Deer to home; slow going.) and I thought it's really not that different. It's all apologetics, in a way.

Anonymous said...

Hello Brigitte,
My, you do get into the most interesting conversations! Your comment about your having to have these conversations in your mind reminds me of Peter's words of "always being ready to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."
A few years ago we read Bill Hybels book, Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith. What I most took away from that book were that we are to step out of our "circle of comfort" and engage people in conversation, hopefully, eventually, sharing with them our own personal "before and after story" (what life was like without Christ, if we remember, and how life is so different with Him). His practical tips of keeping one's "story" brief (told in 45-60 seconds), being clear, simple (avoiding what he calls "religionese") and not being pious or haughty in attitude.
Of course my problem is that I'm not quick on my feet and I think of what I should have said much later. I have to believe God can use even my feeble, blundered efforts.
Anyway, God bless you for caring about others so much and being willing to engage people in these unexpected exchanges!


Steve said...


I think you handled that encounter very well.

You listened, and gained his trust somewhat, and then at the proper time, you handed the gospel over to him, with no strings attached.

God will certainly use your words for His purposes.

Thanks for sharing (and sharing the gospel!).

Brigitte said...

Thanks Ruth and Steve. I have some thoughts on "giving an account of the hope that is in you", vs. sharing a testimony. Maybe that will be a blogpost, if you don't mind Ruth.

Often, we wish we had done this or that or said this or that, or not, that's human. Keeping track of it and reflecting on it, though, can help us next time and even sharing our blunders can be a good occasion to talk to someone about those blunders and have a constructive conversation.