ELIZABETH, Ill. — The Rev. Dan Marggraf shakes his head when talking about how he notices that many of his younger generation tend to not believe in an absolute truth.
“People my age seem to bite the fruit of postmodernism and moral relativism,” the 30-year-old Marggraf said. “Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth. There is no absolute truth that applies to all people. To put it into the slang — ‘Who are you to judge?’”
Marggraf lives in Freeport and is pastor of both his hometown Our Savior Lutheran Church and Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Elizabeth. It’s a 45-minute drive to Faith Evangelical, which means an early alarm when its service starts at 8:30 a.m. between April and September.
“I’m always looking for good podcasts to listen to,” he said with a laugh.
He said the church is very conservative. He believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible. And, his “absolute truth?”
“There is a thing called right and wrong,” he said. “The wrong thing is condemned in God’s eyes and we need to be saved. God sent that savior, in his son Jesus Christ.”
Here is a visit with Marggraf:
Marital status/spouse/children names: Married to Hannah Marggraf, with a daughter, Adeline, 6 months old.
How long have you been a clergy leader? I’ve been an ordained pastor for 4 years.
How long at present church? Two years.
Where else have you pastored?
I was a student pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Columbia, S.C., for one year. Prior to serving here in Illinois, I served a temporary assignment at Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis., for two years. My duties there were dorm supervisor, teacher and coach.
How would you describe your preaching style?
First, Christ-centered. In every sermon, you’ll hear the message of redemption through faith in Jesus.
Second, logical. I try to make each sermon easy to follow. I want to offer my listeners a “connect-the-dots” rather than a maze.
Third, relevant. I want each sermon to reveal what God says about your life right now.
What is your favorite book in the Bible and why?
Genesis. In Genesis, mankind’s greatest questions are answered. Is there a God? How did all this begin? Where did we come from? Why is there trouble in this world? What has God promised to do about that trouble? Importantly, Genesis contains the very first promise of a Savior from sin (Genesis 3:15).
Describe a time when your faith might have been tested.
I have never had what you might call a severe crisis of faith. I can, however, say this: Every day, I have Satan’s invitation to rebel against God. Every day, I have the desire to serve myself and not my God. Every day, this is a struggle, and only in heaven will I be free of it. In that sense, every day, my faith is tested.
Describe a time when your faith seemed to be rewarded or enhanced?
I must answer as broadly (and perhaps as unsatisfactorily) as in the previous question. My faith is rewarded every day. Every day, I possess the peace that transcends all understanding — the peace of knowing that no matter what happens today or tomorrow, God has sacrificed his Son to make me his own, and I will spend a problem-free eternity with him.
Every day, that fact stands unassailable by sin and Satan and their trouble, like a mighty rock impervious to so many raging waves. And a final note: My faith is rewarded every day, not because of the strength of the one who has it, but because of the nature of the one in whom it is placed, namely, the Son of God.
What would you say to someone who is wondering whether God is real or not in their life?
One might ask, “Where is God? I don’t see him. How do I know he exists?” To answer, it must be said that God has not left himself without testimony for his existence. The beauty and enormity of creation reveal a God who is powerful beyond all measure.
The complexity of your central nervous system or the practicality of a rain forest’s ecosystem reveal a God who is wise beyond all measure. An earth that provides life-giving resources for its inhabitants reveals a God who is kind and loving.
Would you like to know more about this God? Then read the written testimony about him. In the Bible, God explains who he is and what it means in your life. It means salvation if you will simply trust in him.