I sat with my back to the fireplace in the dorm lounge, a dozen students in a semi-circle of comfy chairs and couches gathered around.
Unusually Sharp TeenAger From OverSeas (USTAFOS) settled into a spot toward the front and smiled shyly.
“I’m a skeptic,” she said to me privately.
My kind of person.
“Welcome,” I said. “I’m glad you came to Stump the Chump.”
We chatted about her major (engineering) and about American culture for a few minutes until the start of the session.
She asked the second question of the evening — why God would provide only one path up the mountain [Jesus] to himself when it makes much more sense that there should be many paths.
“God responds to the faith and efforts of all people, whatever their background or religion,” she said confidently.
I asked how she knows this truth about God.
“I feel it with all my heart.”
Several students muttered their agreement and I began to wonder whether the room would turn on me. USTAFOS is 19 and sweet — exactly the person to knock off a middle-aged apologist.
I decided to risk a pointed question. “But are your feelings a reliable guide to truth?” I ventured, my throat drying out . . .
The question must not have failed completely. She signed up to meet with me the following day.
Next week I’ll recount our remarkable conversation that took place in the library coffee shop.
* * *
These “Conversations from Campus” are meant to be instructive for your own conversations with seekers and skeptics, whether taken from my successes or blunders.
In this case, I hope you’ll remember to ask questions of the other person and not just “give answers” or refutations, or walk away intimidated without responding at all.