Today I had some wonderful discussions as I handed out tracts. Due to strong winds and a head cold I was not preaching or manning the bible table. God used this time to wonderful effect with opportunities a plenty ditched in my lap. Two conversations stand out from the rest
Stopped when I offered her an eternity tract and asked what it was about. "Its about life after death" I responded. This sparked a long very constructive conversation about the bible, and Christianity. Sue is an atheist and had been heavily involved in the church of England before moving on.
She initially said that she believed there is no life after death so I challenged her to show evidences to support this thought. As most atheists do, Sue claimed that there is no need to support a negative statement and the burden of proof was on me. I urged her to see that there is still a truth claim being made (no afterlife) and so there is a burden of proof to be born to be philosophically consistent. This then spun a huge number of different topics that were quickly touched on and then we'd move on. This rapid fire questioning is something that most atheists do and I often wonder if it is something that is shared on the internet as a good way to bamboozle religious people.
Slowly the real issues came out clearly and they focused on suffering and old testament law. I gave a very brief explanation of why we need God to even understand suffering and how unsatisfying the atheistic perspective is morally. We briefly discussed how the old testament law is to be used by Christians today and why we don't stone people for sin.
The last issue to come up was the fact that Sue is a lesbian and there is significant hurt and rejection that she is dealing with in how the Church responded to her. I spent a while just listening to her story and hearing what she had experienced. I let her know I was sorry for how she had been treated. I affirmed that homosexual people all deserve love, respect and kindness from Christian people.
I also pointed her to the fact that God views all sin as equally a rejection of Him and that she was not any different from me in that she had sin. I urged her to consider that the difference between us was that I was loyal to Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and she was loyal to... herself as she said.
We talked some more and she headed off thanking me for a good conversation.
Mr M. had spoken to me at Mr S.'s skeptics table previously and listened as Mr S. and I discussed evolution and creation. Though he is an atheist Mr M. is interested in what I and other religious people think and was both pleasant to speak to and open to consider new thoughts.
In reference to the existence of eternity Mr M. was curious how it is possible for the non-material soul to interact with the material body. This in turn made him wonder if there was a soul and therefore eternal life. We discussed that the how of the interaction of the soul with the body is not revealed to us, but that we don't understand how something works does not make it imaginary. It is a commonly accepted fact that we are more than our bodies and mankind's search for meaning is an indication of this. Also the evolutionary/materialist story is entirely unsatisfactory, ie that we have "just happened" to develop a morbid fascination with death and what it means. I am skeptical that such a trait could some how be a survival advantage and therefore would persist in the population to today.
I also pointed to eyewitness testimony as a support for life after death. Many people returned from the dead: Lazarus, the son of widow at Nain, the daughter of Jarius, all the people raised when Jesus died, and Jesus Himself. All of these are witnessed to in the best ancient history in the world - the bible.
We also discussed the different responses to my work and the work of the team. It is a varied affair and will always be. Mr M. left thanking me for the conversation and saying he'd be back to talk more in the future.
May God be praised for such fantastic conversations.