Question: Many Christian leaders have tried unsuccessfully to maintain the respect and enthusiasm of young people over a long period of time. But you have succeeded. Why?
Answer: First of all, different people have different qualities and gifts from the Lord. Having said this, I think there are some human elements.
I have dealt with the questions that have really touched on the developing contemporary scene and I haven’t gotten stuck back at the point of my own studies when I was a young man, the way some people seem to do. One reason for this is that I was not raised as a Christian. I went through a period when I was agnostic. I became a Christian at eighteen simply through reading my own Bible after reading a lot of philosophy. Therefore I think my own conversion is conducive to thinking in modern terms. Also, part of my education has been a continuing education, not just from the books that I read but from the many, many people that I talk to. So often Christians don’t listen to what the other person says; they just present the Christian position. I’ve always tried to listen to people who have come from all over the world and from all kinds of disciplines.
When young people come to me they find empathy, I think, for the simple reason that I don’t write off their questions, intellectually or otherwise, and just give them a formula. I really try to deal with the question.
Q: Some of your critics admit that what you’ve just said is true within the context of L’Abri. When you are with someone in person, you do understand and empathize with their questioning. On the other hand, in your writings—on the cold, dispassionate black and white page—when you deal with people like Karl Barth, for example, that same sort of true listening ...1
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