In the last blog, I wrote about the use of questionnaires in the Skepsis Uke (we also talked about what skepsis uke is). I will write down a description of a few conversations we had and what I think is the up and downside of the method.
The bright Muslim. We met this young Muslim brother. He was seeking asylum in Norway, an immigrant from China due to the persecution for his faith. He convinced us of the existence of God for he said, ‘There surely is a god. How else can you explain such order? We are simply not the ultimate beings. There must be someone greater.’ He told us that he had studied the three major religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) considerably. Of Judaism he said it wasn’t useful since he was out of it any ways, it was for the Jew. Of Christianity he said it had a deal ‘too good to be real’. In paraphrase, these were his thoughts, ‘How can I just believe in Jesus and my sins are pardoned? That is very stupid. I should surely bring something to God. Islam looks a bit more logical. I must do a lot of good works, more than my bad ones.’ I marveled at how much of a grasp of the gospel the gospel he had. We had a good conversation.
The ardent atheist. This was the most common of all cases. Let us call them the ardent atheists. On being asked a question on God, or Jesus, or Christianity, their response was almost always uniform. ‘I don’t believe’. But why? ‘There is no evidence.’ What amount of evidence can make you change your mind? Some said, ‘no amount of evidence’, or that God had to speak to them in some personal way so they could believe. I also met many who couldn’t think of a reason for the need of God. They had all they need for life. Others sighted the pain and suffering on earth as their reason for disbelief. Not a few said that it doesn’t make sense at all. Well, I have walked with God closely, and I know Him, these answers very much heartbroken me.
The resigned relativist. I would say that this was the most difficult one to deal with. Most of the time they said they do not believe in God, that they are atheists but agnostic. They do not know the truth and at times they are not bothered about it because it doesn’t matter. If I explained to them the gospel, their response would be something close to this ‘Its good you believe that. I don’t believe it and have nothing against it. I get it that you need the faith.’ I would then ask, ‘what if it’s true?’ They would answer ‘but it’s not true for me.’ Their point is that it doesn’t matter, it cannot be true for me. I choose what is true. When that’s the problem, your argument will be abstract for a very long time. Good luck when you meet a resigned relativist.
The non-Christian Christian. I met some who said they were Christian. Baptized and confirmed. But they had a strange idea of Jesus. They said all He was a good man, who told a lot of good stories. He was probably very charismatic. I was very sad that they knew barely a thing of His cross. They had no living relationship with Him yet they identified themselves as Christian. Well, I must say that these are not anything close to the Norwegian Christian.
The eager seeker. These were most encouraging group of people to meet. They had mostly thought well about the whole subject of faith. Many of them would answer that they are not sure of the existence of a personal God, but they wouldn’t be surprised if one existed. They were searching too. ‘I am certain that there is something bigger than humans. Maybe a form of force or person.’ They had interesting questions to ask. Why Christianity? How can I be sure that it is true? Who is Jesus? Why do you say He is the Son of God? How can I know the resurrection happened? Why can I trust Jesus with my life? How can I trust Him? What does it mean to believe? How can I believe? Some are thankful when they don’t just get simplistic answers because they site that as one of the major hindrances to belief.
The mystic. I met a number of this kind. But one said she believes in the existence of ghosts. She said that they have talked to her mother, narrating an incident that sounded weird and dreadful. That was all their view of a god or God. But she didn’t have time to discuss more. They all talked of the existance of a the transendant, but the view was at best dark and desperate. This is when I thanked God for the Bible, the revelation of God.
The up and down sides of the concept
This concept was very interesting. It was efficient in delivering its objective, to get an audience. Almost anyone in a university wanted their opinion to be heard over a survey. But this was also its difficulty. It is a survey; how do you (as the interviewer) now share your opinion in a survey? There was one obvious way; be cleaver and ask questions and hope that they (the interviewee) asked questions. It brings also you to a defense mode before the declaration of the gospel. The participant answering the questionnaire vents out all they know, which may mostly be misconceptions. So soon you argue with the dumbest of misconceptions, and you have no time to say the point. It still retains the advantage that you get to understand the other person far much better, and so explain the gospel much more relevantly – if you have the chance.