Stump The Chump

Sunday Night is "Red Pill" night at the church where I'm a Pastor of Students. Red Pill is a Bible Study named after the blockbuster The Matrix, in which a red pill stands for truth. Recently, the Bible Study has been led by students who are instructed to teach a Scripture passage that they are attempting to live out in their own life. It's been a very effective opportunity for the teenagers, many of whom are actually excited about the application of God's Word. It's weird; the whole thing has become like a huge game of charades, where teenagers start living out specific passages of Scripture weeks before their "lesson" and try to get other teenagers to guess what passage they'll be talking about.

Yesterday morning I got word that my speaker wouldn't be showing up. Her soccer team made the finals of some tournament, and her assistance was needed on defense. So the lesson fell to me.

Of course I've been doing my best to study and apply Scripture in my own life, but that's what I teach about all the time. I needed something different. So my wife recommended we play a game I like to call "Stump the Chump." Basically, it's a free-for-all, where the teenagers are given permission to ask the hardest questions they can think of about the Bible or life, and I give the best answer I can. After my answer, I get either thumbs-up if I answered the question adequately, or I get the buzzer if I didn't answer the question adequately. It sounds cheesy, but the kids love it, and the benefit is two-fold. First, I get a glimpse into what they're really thinking about. Secondly, through their use of the buzzer, I figure out pretty quickly how well I am articulating what God's Word says.

Frankly, it wouldn't be hard to stump this chump. I'm a glutton for punishment when it comes to this game, but fortunately I've played it a couple of times before and tend to be able to anticipate the questions they'll ask. (By the way, I've always promised them if I don't know the answer to a question, I'll admit it, and then buy them dinner for coming up with such a perceptive question. And it's happened before).

Last night, at first, was no different from usual. I got the usual barrage of "Why do bad things happen to good people?" "How far is too far to go on a date?" "Could God make a burrito so hot that not even He could eat it?"

But then the questions moved into a new area. About four of the forty or so kids present started pelting me with similar questions. They all started centering around the inclusivist debate. You know... "If God is really loving, how could He let my Muslim friend go to Hell?" And, "Is Jesus really the only way to God?" (I found out later that one of the main questioners had recently converted to Islam with his family). As the time wore on, the questions started getting more and more intense, and my answers were getting "buzzed" faster than flies in a bug zapper.
Some (not all) of the teenagers at this Bible study weren't buying it.

I explained to them that all religions couldn't be true; that Christianity believes there is one God, Hinduism believes there are more than nine-hundred gods, Mormonism believes you can become a god, and certain forms of Buddhism believe there is no God. Those ideas are contradictory, and therefore cannot all be true. Then I pointed to one of the kids and took the question further. "If I say Matt is wearing a yellow shirt, and you say Matt is wearing a blue shirt, we can't both be right. Either he's wearing a yellow shirt and I'm right, he's wearing a blue shirt and you're right, or he's wearing a different color and we're both wrong. Those are the only options. We can't both be right."

Four hands shot up at the same time. I called on one of them.

"Sure you can," he said, "The shirt is yellow to you, and blue to me. Just because you see it differently doesn't make me wrong."

The remaining three hands went down. "He took our point" they said.

I'm not a person who is normally left speechless. But last night, I had nothing to say. The chump had been stumped, but not with a question that was too hard to answer. The chump had been stumped by the sheer lunacy of the junk with which our kids are being brainwashed. I felt like I was talking to four brainwashed zombies rather than the well-dressed, all-American teenagers I was talking to.

Today's culture is presenting the church with some major obstacles to combat in the coming years. They disguise themselves as intellectual pursuits, but intellectual responses aren't accepted as answers. There's a different mindset in the minds of our youth, and it's terrifying. Blue isn't yellow, black isn't white, and truth is not relative. And the concept of absolute truth needs to constantly be reinforced by the church who believes in truth from an Almighty God, absolutely.


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odat_kim said...

I like your stump the chump game and relating it to the red pill in the Matrix.

That's an interesting point of view of the teenagers that one person sees a shirt as yellow, another as blue, and both could be right from their perceptions. Or maybe you are both yellow/blue colour blind and see yellow and blue as the same colour, but perceive it differently thus having different understandings of yellow and blue (like a red/green colour blind perceives these 2 colours the same, or similar enough, that maybe they can only perceive a slight shading difference and have learned from repeated exposure what other people see as red & green or yellow & blue). Ultimately you need someone or something that is not colour blind or can determine the wavelength of the colour to define the absolute truth.