I felt a bit like a kid back from summer vacation as I hopped on the metro to head back to school this past week. I returned to school encouraged by the progress I thought we’d made towards fluency over the break and ready to dive back into the grammar. The week was good, and this was really the first full week of school where I didn’t have a “my-Italian-won’t-work-today” day (it came on Wednesday week two).
With new classes came new teachers. The Lord continued His pattern of giving us teachers who seem interested in the Gospel and/or who give us a platform to share about it. Although I didn’t have a ton of time to talk with my teacher for the group lessons, the teacher I spent the week with for my individual lessons was a different story. The teacher I’d requested wasn’t available for this week, and so the administrator told me I’d be working with Matteo.
Matteo is 28 (two years younger than me), studied literature and philosophy at university, and has been teaching Italian for the past 4 years. With individual lessons you really get to set the pace for your course, and I explained to the administrator that I wanted to work on my writing ability and maybe on some pronunciation. Essentially I figured I’d be writing a few paragraphs on somewhat generic themes, reading them aloud, and talking about grammar. All that happened, but much differently than I’d expected.
Matteo showed up on Tuesday (we met for about an hour Tuesday – Friday) and told me he was exited to work with me because he studied philosophy and was intrigued by the idea of a protestant pastor. Within about 10 minutes we were already discussing our differing worldviews. He was explaining to me that he’s convinced that there must be something out there, but that he’s pretty sure he can’t be sure, and he certainly can’t know what it is. We talked all about his inconsistent relativism and why God must exist.
Not one to pass up an opportunity like this, I wrote a brief one-page defense for the existence of God. Essentially I explained an argument called, “The Impossibility of the Contrary.” This argument explains that, “only Christianity provides the preconditions of intelligibility for man’s experience and reasoning. If Christianity were not true, the unbeliever could not prove or understand anything.” The God of the Bible is (Heb. 11:6), that is, He must exist, because the world as it is would be impossible without Him. To reject Christ, says Van Til is “intellectual suicide.”
This “paper,” a generous way to talk about it, certainly wasn’t tight philosophical argumentation, but it spurred all sorts of conversation. We talked about the way that Matteo knows that there must be something ‘other’ because God put that knowledge in his heart (Rom. 1:19). But that God was gracious because He put this longing for something more in his heart in such a way that it couldn’t be satisfied in this earth (Eccl. 3:11). I told him about my testimony. He asked me about how I would raise my girls in the faith. He talked about what it was like to grow up in a strict Roman Catholic family. He talked about his philosophical heroes. We talked about interpreting the Bible. We talked about Jesus as offering something different from every other religion.
In case you’re wondering I did get my corrections, and we did talk grammar. It was a great exercise for my Italian. Especially at the more advanced levels, doing things you enjoy in the language is a great way to stay motivated to progress. But more than that, my heart sang with thanks to God for the opportunity. It was certainly a, “this is why I’m supposed to be here” moment.
 Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready, 152.