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So much for open-mindedness, he said bitterly.

I'm terribly frustrated, unable to sleep at the moment for all of the arguments floating around in my head. I posted my Gospel message [see my previous posting] on an online forum dedicated to Campaign, my old LARP group. I used a Christmas greeting because I wanted to be sure that people who celebrated Christmas knew what it was they were celebrating, and because Christmas seems like the one time of year when people may be more receptive to hearing Jesus's name than any other time of year [having said that, I wonder how much longer this will be the case]. My introduction was not a ruse - it was sincere - but it was intended as a launching-off point. I fully anticipated discussing and debating the points it raised with Campaigners in the hopes of clarifying any misinterpretations or incorrect notions any of them may have had about Jesus and what He had to say to all of us. One of the people on the forum has been discussing it with me (you can say arguing, though he's been very careful in the choice of his words and not unkind in arguing his views), but now it looks as though it's all going to be shut down. He's given me plenty to work with, argument-wise, and I was looking forward to responding, but now one of the moderators has said that he doesn't want me to talk about it any more, as my beliefs are "hurtful" to him.

How many important conversations are cut off between friends because they fear that their friendship will suffer for having the conversation, that feelings will be hurt? How many important words are never spoken, until it's too late to say them?

Similarly, aren't there things that are more important than friendship? In the long run - especially when the long run is eternity - isn't it worth the risk? I tell myself that it would do no good to debate the matter further, as it would render them unwilling to give ear to any further talk on the subject by offending them now. But then, that's what's happening anyway, isn't it?

We're in a war for souls, and it frustrates me to no end that the battle can be stymied with a simple, "I don't want to talk about it any more." I have to remember that it's not necessarily through words that such battles are won, but through changes of the heart. Yet words must play a role - how can anyone know something unless someone tells it to them? What is the point of Jesus's Great Commission if words can serve no real purpose?

I think many people resign themselves to the conclusion that no one's mind will be changed through an argument, especially an online argument. Aside from commenting that this is indicative of astoundingly closed-minded participants, I'm provoked to challenge this theory. If no one's mind will be changed, why discuss it in the first place? Why discuss anything? Why read anything? Why pretend to learn?

Because it all comes down to the heart, which is full of pride. No surprise then that God uses tragedy to speak to us. As Lewis was quoted in the movie Shadowlands , "Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

I say I was looking forward to responding to this fellow. I was; my stomach knots every time I open my e-mail or check on the forum, but after I read the response, the initial wooziness passes and I think about what has been said. Then I begin formulating responses; I pray, though it would behoove me to pray more often than I do, yet I feel equipped to respond, using both God's word and the words of other Christians who have worked out the logic of God's word. If I've learned anything by listening to witness encounters on the radio, it's that people generally do not have a whole lot of logic or internal consistency to their beliefs; they maintain them either by not thinking about them very often or very deeply, operating entirely on emotion, or by picking and choosing what they like from various belief systems as though they were at the salad bar at Sizzler. From what I've heard, those who have well-reasoned beliefs that they've really thought through - the apologists, if you will - are the exception rather than the rule.

The rampant relativism of today's culture has left most people completely bankrupt when it comes to debate. Why bother debating when you can simply shrug and toss off a gem like, "That's fine if you believe that - but what's true for you is not necessarily true for me"? It's the death of discourse, the triumph of selfishness, and the harbinger of barbarism. Universal truths are not matters of opinion; "We hold these truths to be self-evident" is not the same as "chocolate is the best flavor of ice cream"! Yet a lamentable majority claims to think this way.

And that's the important point. People claim to think that way, but when it comes down to the way they live their lives, it's obvious that they don't really believe what they preach. If they get short-changed at McDonald's, they don't shrug and concede, "Well, perhaps it was true for the cashier that I get this much change." If their mother were to be raped, they wouldn't sigh and charitably offer, "I can't force my morality on the rapist."

And when they fall prostrate before the terrifying brilliance of the Living God and hear His voice condemning them to an eternity of torment, they'll find God's morality forced upon them in a way they never before conceived of. When considering this inevitability as an abstract, or when inserting the names of history's most callous butchers into this description, I admit I find a certain deal of satisfaction in this image. Yet, when I think of my friends - kind people, imaginative and caring people - and see their faces on those trembling, prostrate forms, my heart sinks.

I know that they'll realize that it's what they've chosen, that every argument or claim they think they had will wither like grass in a fire. I know that this is the only possible destiny for rebellious mankind subject to an absolutely good and absolutely just Creator. But it hurts like Hell to think about.

So I guess I have some inkling of how it must feel to an absolutely loving Creator.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 28, 2003 at Sunday, December 28, 2003 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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