A Swedish Atheist, An American Mormon, And An Indian Christian Walk Into A Korean Restaurant . . .
- By 7 Mile Road
- Published 06/26/2008
7 Mile Road7 Mile Road is a church that is being planted in the city of Philadelphia. We long to plant a Jesus-centered, Gospel-driven, missional church that redeems the lost and edifies the redeemed. To hear more about our story and vision, check out our blog at www.phillychurchplant.wordpress.com
Russell Peters would have a field day with that title.
The other night I had dinner with my doctor whom I had recently met. Great guy - hardworking, thoughtful, super intelligent, loves his family, cares about the planet, cares about people, and up for a good conversation. He had graciously and excitedly taken me up on my invitation to read Tim Keller’s The Reason for God and talk about it over a meal. In fact, it turns out that hardly anyone in his circle is willing to talk with him about the existence of God. The only other guy is a Mormon friend (another really cool guy) and so he invited him to read the book and come to dinner as well. Some thoughts coming out of the night.
» Keller’s book is a great tool for having engaging dialogue. We talked for 3 hours and probably covered just one or two of his main arguments. I imagine it could be a lot of fun in a book club. What do you think are the chances I could convince Oprah to use it for her next round?
» I’ve learned a lot from the Meetings for Better Understanding that we’ve done with our Muslim friends at 7MR. The tone of the night was similar in that all three of us were quite honest with each other and clung tightly to our beliefs. We did not leave our differences at the door in the name of tolerance. Yet, we were incredibly cordial to one another and maintained mutual respect. We asked difficult questions, tried hard to understand each other, disagreed often, but certainly left the night better friends than when we had began.
» If you’re okay with capital punishment but against abortion, is that a contradiction? Is the sanctity of life upheld in one and tossed in the other? I think there are some good answers and we talked through some, but it was a good question. Don’t ask me how we got there - I told you we talked for 3 hours.
» Many who call themselves atheists or anti-theists feel like aliens in society. I didn’t know that. It seems that when my friend tells people that he doesn’t believe in God, they look at him with pity and contempt. I told him that many times Christians receive the same look for exactly the opposite belief. Our Mormon friend said the same. It seems like a strong stance at either end is scorned. Sadly, the safest ground in our culture seems to be where you mentally acknowledge that there is a God but live like He doesn’t exist.
» I’m grateful that there are many at 7MR that would love to keep the conversation going with my friend. Hopeful to connect him with someone from that community where he could keep asking difficult questions without feeling like he was being condemned.
» They asked me what the name “7 Mile Road” was about and if it was somehow connected to Detroit (thanks Eminem!). I enjoyed telling them the story of Luke 24 and they enjoyed hearing it. My doctor-friend said that he would go home and read it.
» Korean BBQ is cool. There was a fire pit built into our table and they cooked the food right in front of us while we talked.
» Funny - he came into the conversation fearfully thinking, “What if I convince Ajay that there is no God? I will have robbed him of peace and even ruined his livelihood!” (He assured me of a job in his office if that happened) Here’s the Scripture I went into the conversation thinking about:
And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” Acts 26:24-29