I apologize for the length of time which has elapsed since Part One. Thank you for waiting!
I received a phone call when I was at home several days later from the pastor of the church which handed me the brochure about Jesus.
I struggled to think of something coherent to say to the preacher on the other end of the line. Here I was, talking to him directly. What was I going to say? Was I going to make a fool of myself?
I told the pastor that I had been handed the glossy bulletin, that I had read it, and that I decided to call the included number to discuss some questions I had about the information in the brochure.
For my first question I stammered, "What does your church think about the Bible?"
He relayed to me the teachings on Biblical inerrancy: that everything in the Bible is truth, and that the Bible is internally consistent. The preacher also mentioned that his church exclusively uses the King James Version of the Bible.
I asked him why the church uses the King James Version? He replied that the King James Version used direct translation from the "original" languages of the Bible. I did not proceed further with this because I am not knowledgeable enough about the history of the Biblical documents to contend with his claims.
Another angle which my conversant preacher had emphasized about the Bible was that it contains God's messages. It was given to humans, but God had written it ahead of time, so the Bible was God's perfect word to humanity.
I decided to ask the pastor about certain tenets of Biblical morality. I discussed certain acts of genocide and crime in the world today: Serbia/Kosovo, Rwanda, etc.
Did he agree that these acts were wrong? Yes, he did.
I then cited the book of Joshua: the slaughter of the various tribes of Canaan whom the Israelites supposedly displaced.
If the Bible condones an act of terror that we agree is untenable, then why should I follow its teachings as a moral guide?
The preacher directly informed me that the slaughter of these peoples was really the work of God, not the Israelites, and that they were really evil, anyway.
I asked the pastor, "If God told you to murder someone, would you do it?"
He retorted that he would never murder someone, but if God murdered someone, he would understand why God did it.
Just as God slaughtered many of the Canaanites for their immoral ways, God could similarly "send judgment" to many Americans today for the current state of our immoral society.
But the bottom line, the preacher reasserted, is that Jesus saved us, and God sent the Bible to us. The real important point is whether I believe that or not.
"Do you believe in God?" he stated sharply.
"I don't know," I answered.
"You don't know? But the Bible is God's Word!" the pastor responded. "This book talks about Jesus and why he came, so Jesus was either telling the truth or he was a liar. Do you believe what the Bible says about Jesus?"
"What if the people who wrote the Bible made up the stuff that Jesus said?" I inquired.
(My query was ignored and previous assertions were repeated.)
"How can you not believe the Bible?" he asked incredulously. "It contains the words of Jesus. Do you believe them?"
"I could write a book about President Obama and say that he said something, but that doesn't mean he said it," I retorted.
My acquaintance was not amused by that comment. He abruptly ended the conversation.
"Look, if you don't understand this about the Bible, I can't even talk to you."
I thanked the preacher for the discussion, and hung up the phone.
Maybe I should've used some other analogy besides Barack Obama...my second thought was Harry Potter...never mind.
Some conversations are doomed to futility.