Building a Bridge to Nowhere
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV)
It is impossible to drive from Greensboro to Belfast. When you reach the coast, “You ain’t got no place left to go!” When it comes to trains and automobiles, the two cities might as well be on different planets. Travel by land is out of the question.
My clumsy attempts to share the gospel with unbelievers often feels similarly hopeless. Is there any point of contact between us? Do we believe anything in common? I believe in God, they don’t. I see the glory of a well-ordered creation, they see the lucky chaos of a random explosion. I tether my thinking to Truth. They feel no need for such inconvenient notions, preferring to wander as freethinking hobos along the highway from nothing to nowhere.
Such fears only exist, however, if we take the unbeliever’s bombast too seriously. We might live in two different worlds, but only one of them is real. And, what is more, he knows it. Every day the unbeliever must live in tension. He has all these hifalutin theories about the way he wishes the word would be. But every time he opens his eyes, every time he listens to his conscience, his fantasy meets reality with all the subtlety of a brick through a plate glass window.
Take John Cage for example. John was a composer of music— I use that term somewhat loosely. You see, like the good post-modernist he was, John didn’t like to believe in truth. He resented man’s efforts to impose order on the chaos of the world. He preferred nature’s anarchy “red in tooth and claw.” To his mind, were it not for the irrational efforts of human beings, there would be no harmony in the universe, only cacophony. Trying his best to be consistent to this philosphy, he took his belief into the concert hall with rather startling effect. Intentionally random, his musical compositions jumped unpredictably from key signature to key signature, and from time signature to time signature. The result, always interesting to the philosophers in the audience, was not at all popular with the orchestra. At the conclusion of one concert, a large hiss emanated from the orchestra pit. At first the audience thought it was a fault in one of the loudspeakers. Then they realized it was the democratic response of the musicians themselves. They might have followed the score as slaves. But there was no love lost in their bondage!
Now, if you are a particularly tolerant sort of fellow— the kind the Elites like to laud from their ivory towers— you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, what’s the harm in that? Whatever floats Mr. Cage’s boat: Who am I to judge?” Well, nothing, I suppose, unless you are the kind of person who actually cares whether or not an idea works in the real world. For this is precisely the point where Mr. Cage gets himself (or I should rather say, got himself) into a spot of bother, because one of Mr Cage’s hobbies was picking, cooking, and eating mushrooms. And, as any self-respecting mycophile will tell you, when it comes to picking an edible mushroom, you can afford to be too picky! If you want to live, that is. Which is precisely what Mr. Cage would not find himself doing if he took his musical philosophy out into the woods in his search for lunch. Apparent, all things aren’t nearly as random as Mr. Cage liked to pretend. There are some rules wisdom always obeys.
I was reminded of this today in my daily forays into the writings of Francis Schaeffer who said,
(When it comes to sharing their faith,) Christian apologists do not start somewhere beyond the stars. They begin with man and what he knows about himself. When man is lost, he is lost against all that there is, including what he is. Therefore, when he stands before God in judgment, God, in order to point out how false his position has been, will only need to refer to what he as an individual has known of the external world and “mannishness.” As far as morals are concerned, man will only have to be judged according to the standards he himself has laid down in condemning others, for, as Paul makes clear, he then proceeds to break even his own standards. Hence, the person before you is not in a vacuum. He knows something of the external world, and he knows something of Himself.
And, I might add, he knows something about God! (Romans 1:18ff). In evangelism, therefore, our first job, after praying, is to find this point of tension and to remind our conversation partner of what he has always already known. The realm of which we speak, is one he knows only too well. It is the real one, and he lives in it every day of the week. May God bless you as you speak the truth in love to all with ears to hear. Press on!