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Goodbye, Rob Sherman - My Friendship with a Departed Atheist

I considered the well-known atheist Rob Sherman a friend. We had lunch together several times, and I invited him to a debate here at The Moody Church in April of 2011, which can be viewed here and here. Regardless of who “won” the debate, I am more concerned about the eternal destiny of my friend.

On Saturday December 10, I was saddened to learn that Rob had been killed in a single-engine plane accident in Marengo, a distant Chicago suburb. Rob, a passionate pilot, was flying the plane when it crashed.

I enjoyed my friendship with Rob. He was personable and respectful, even when discussing church/state issues and relating his many successes in trying to rid the state of any hint of religious influence. Of course he also had setbacks, but he never gave up his fight against the Pledge of Allegiance (he was bothered by the phrase “under God”) and religious symbols in the so-called public square. Though we found ourselves on opposite sides of these important issues, our friendship transcended our differing political views. We also talked about his background, his family, and his love of airplanes.

When I gave him a tour of The Moody Church, he looked around our Sanctuary and asked, “Now why would someone get up early on a Sunday morning and go to church?” Of course I took the opportunity to explain the Gospel and the need to trust in Christ, the only one who can save us from our sins and from God’s righteous judgement. I gave him a copy of John’s Gospel and urged him to read a chapter a day asking the simple question, “Who, according to this book, is Jesus Christ?” I told him he could read it as a skeptic, but that he owed himself the opportunity to just read it! Sadly, when I met him a year later, he admitted that he not taken up my challenge.

Now he has entered into eternity. I grieve, for if he died as he lived, he has no one to represent him in the presence of a holy God, no Savior to take away his sin and welcome him into the heavenly realm.

Goodbye, Rob. I regret that you did not come to believe in a God who loves us enough to send His Son to die in our stead. I pray that your unexpected death will be a reminder that life is short and eternity is long, and that preparing to die should be our highest priority.  

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