Yesterday I arrived on campus at CSULB late in the afternoon and only had time to survey one student. Here are her survey answers and the highlights of our conversation.
To see the Survey questions, click the Survey page.
Legend- Y=Yes, LY=Leans Yes, NoO=No Opinion, LN=Leans No, N=No
Undergraduate with Undeclared Major
I will call this young lady Mindy. She is a post-modern Christian. I’m trying to learn how to talk to Christians who are not convinced absolute truth can be known.
Because Mindy identified as a Christian, I asked her to answer questions 10 and 11 as if she had not yet become a Christian. Questions 10 and 11 are mainly marketing research type questions. I see two types of Christian evangelists in the world. One type is like Pastor Rick Warren whose message is “A relationship with Jesus Christ gives meaning and purpose to life and that is why you should be a Christian.”
Another type of evangelistic message comes from the Josh McDowell/Lee Strobel approach that says “The historical evidence that Jesus physically rose from the dead is very strong and resurrections do not happen without God. The resurrection shows Christianity is true and this is why you should become a Christian.”
One approach will seems to appeal more to certain types of people and the other will appeal more strongly to other types of peopl. My question was which approach would motivate more people to follow Christ. I have some preliminary results, but I don’t think I will announce them just yet. Stay tuned.
Now on to the highlights of our conversation:
Me: Did you find the questions interesting?
Mindy: Yes, I did. The science questions made me think.
Me: Since we are both Christians, is it okay if I probe your answers a little bit?
Mindy: I guess so.
Me: I noticed that you answered the first question “Is it ever possible to know absolute truth about anything?” with “Leans No” and then we came to question eight “Did Jesus rise from the dead bodily?” and you said “Yes.”
Mindy: Yes, I did. I suppose I should have said “Leans Yes.”
Me: I’m not trying to talk you out of believing in Jesus’s physical resurrection. The Bible, in First John, teaches that we can know for certain that we are going to heaven. We also know from the Bible that our salvation is based on the fact Jesus rose from the dead physically. Do you see what I’m getting at?
Mindy: Kind of.
Me: You are part of the post-modern world. What I mean is that your generation is known as a post-modern generation. Have you heard that term before?
Mindy: No, I don’t think so.
Me: Post-modern people have this view that absolute truth is unknowable. My generation is known a modern generation and fully accepts that truth is knowable… at least some truth is knowable. We realize we may not know some things with precision but that is not the same as not knowing. We can know that 2+2=4.
Me: For someone like me, it’s hard to understand why people who don’t believe truth is knowable would pay tuition and go to university if they can never know anything.
Mindy: I see what you mean. Why are you doing this survey?
Me: A few years ago I read a statistic that says 70-75% of good youth group kids leave home and stop going to church. I also read that the university was a very hostile environment for Christianity.
Mindy: Well, I still go to church!
Me: I’m so glad to hear that! But you can see why that statistic bothered me, right?
Mindy: That’s a very high percentage.
Me: Yes, it is. I could not get that number out of my head. So I decided to put this survey together to learn what college students think. I’ve had some very interesting conversations. Students say things to me like “Too bad Christianity is not intellectually viable” and “science has disproven the Bible.” So, I came realize that intellectual doubts played a huge role in why these students stopped going to church. I knew there was nothing I could say to these students in the time of a short conversation that would change their entire worldview about faith and Christianity, but I thought that if I had a tool – like a booklet – I could give it away and it might help them. I wanted something that was small enough they might actually read it and cheap enough I could afford to give it away and yet long enough to be compelling. I looked for something already on the market in Christian bookstores and online and could not find anything I thought was appropriate, so I wrote one and would like to give you a copy.
Mindy: Oh! Thank you!
(We talked a little more about the content of the booklet and the conversion of the three men.)
Me: Are you involved with any Christian campus ministries like Cru?
Mindy: No. I live off campus and I’m very busy with work and my studies that I’m not on campus except for classes. But at least I’m still going to church!
Me: Yes, you are! I’m very glad for that. I hope you enjoy the booklet.
Mindy: Oh, I’m eager to read it!