I have just had David and Abi, two teenagers evangelising with “Awake!” magazine, on the door-step. As usual, I offered to take their magazine if they would take and read Advices and Queries. As usual, they declined. So I read a bit of it to them. She liked it. He guarded his belief-system, wanting to know where the words come from. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I said, refined over centuries. They argue only from the Bible, what it really says, he said.
-Well, it is good that you have a faith. So few people do, he said, but I wasn’t having that.
-I love what Mr Miliband said. He has faith in people. We are made in the image of God- loving, creative, powerful, beautiful, that is what “the image of God” means
(as I note the spots on his forehead, and square off against him)
-that is what Paul was getting at in Romans 1, that all see the glory of God in the goodness of Creation.
They will not be taking my book. They told me their names, I said I was Abigail, and the coincidence delighted her. They wish me a good day.
It seemed after that Abi is my teacher. There was I talking about Openness to the Spirit, or Life, whatever, and she was modelling it. I was merely sparring with David, coming out with lines that I had known before- to defeat a teenager in argument!
They came to share the Good News of God, and I said No, hear mine instead. I cut them off, bustled off to my bookcase, brought A&Q and my pat arguments.
I doubt they had anything new to say. I feel I know the Jehovah’s Witness system well enough, how my friend hates it because it forced her mother to refuse to see her after she left it; how it restricts people; how it requires belief in ridiculous things, like Creation around six thousand years ago, so cannot tolerate independent thought-
yet she seemed to be open, to listening.
He was concerned for her, that she might be too open, for his is the way of Truth and you must not deviate from it.
Perhaps if I had had more time. I could have listened to what they had to say. Often, the Witnesses come round, offering a more in depth meeting with an evangelist later, but not wanting to come in to evangelise now. They offer Awake. There were several teenagers on the street, perhaps just starting evangelism.
I did not like Helen Drewery of Quaker Peace and Social Witness on The Moral Maze. I felt the arguments for pacifism could be put so much better; but that means with more persuasive rhetoric. I like arguing. In her responses, she modelled pacifism.
-Are you not a hypocrite, relying on the army to keep you safe while you pretend to pacifism?
it is a different way of being, of responding, which I can explain but not always be-
The coincidence of names delighted me too, and we grinned at each other. I might have had a different conversation just with Abi; yet if David can drag me into mere confrontation, by challenging questions designed to justify that he has a better way rather than find mine, is mine better? Theory is all very well….
And it is easier to communicate something if the other knows they have been heard; and I have something beautiful, which I love, and I wanted to assert it- for I thought I had no chance of persuading them.