One evening several years ago, a senior at Princeton University telephoned to ask if I would see him. I told him it would be my pleasure. Soon the doorbell rang, and there stood the senior. When he had sat down in my living room he remarked, “I hope you don’t mind my dropping in like this, but I felt I just had to see you.” The senior then went on to unburden himself. He was in the sciences and had achieved everything he had ever dreamed of as far as his university career was concerned. He was one of the top men in his class. He had been elected to the Society of Sigma Xi and had been awarded a very prized fellowship at the university where he was to pursue his graduate studies.
I congratulated him on his achievements.
“But they don’t really mean very much,” he blurted out. “I thought they would. There isn’t the satisfaction in my studies, and in my success, that I thought there would be. I feel empty inside. There must be something more to life than what I’ve learned from science.”
“I’m sure there is,” I replied, “but why have you come to me?”
“Because I thought you could tell me.”
What was I to say to him? Should I develop an argument along the lines of natural theology and hope that it would convince him of God’s existence, and that this would satisfy him?
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” I said; “I’ll state my faith.” This I did in terms of faith as my response to the mighty acts of God, which culminate in the incarnation, atonement, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When I had finished he said, “That’s what I needed to hear. I daresay I could have read it for myself in the New Testament, or in one of the creeds, or in a book of theology. But I needed someone to speak it.”
I relate this incident because I believe it illustrates ...1
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