I know a lot of bloggers have drawn attention to it already, but just in case it’s slipped anyone’s net, I thought I’d add my own link:
A.N. Wilson, the famous biographer and notorious religious sceptic, who wrote biographies of Jesus and Paul with the express intention of demonstrating that Christianity is on an untenable foundation, has become a Christian. He wrote about his re-discovery of the Christian faith in a column in the Daily Mail. Here are a couple of excerpts:
My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known – not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the Resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die.
The Easter story answers their questions about the spiritual aspects of humanity. It changes people’s lives because it helps us understand that we, like Jesus, are born as spiritual beings.
Historians of Roman and Jewish law have argued at length about the details of Jesus’s trial – and just how historical the Gospel accounts are.
Anyone who believes in the truth must heed the fine points that such scholars unearth. But at this distance of time, there is never going to be historical evidence one way or the other that could dissolve or sustain faith.
Of course, only hard evidence will satisfy the secularists, but over time and after repeated readings of the story, I’ve been convinced without it.
This tells you something about the power of the Gospel: the birth of faith through the “repeated readings of the story”. It also tells you about the potentially wonderful evidentiary power of people living their lives as Christians, “riends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the Resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die”.
Not that apologetics and dealing with the challenges of the sceptics is a waste of time or futile. Only it must remain in its proper place: as a kind of winsome bulldozer, clearing away the outer defences that prevent people from even hearing the Gospel in the first place. But the message of the resurrection is in itself sufficient.
On the evening of the first Easter, Jesus appeared to His disciples after they had heard the report of the women from the tomb, after Peter had witnessed the empty tomb, and immediately after Cleopas and the other disciple had returned from Emmaus to tell of their encounter with the Risen Lord. Yet, when He appeared, they doubted and were filled with fear. How did Jesus deal with their doubt and fear? By simply pointing to the reality of the resurrection: showing His hands and feet pierced for the world, and eating some fish to demonstrate that He was indeed alive. And they believed, and fear was replaced by joy.
And those two signs are still being offered to us: Christ who died for us, Christ who was raised for us. In those two facts, the fate of all humanity – and of every human being – is decided. And those two facts alone can overcome doubt and fear with faith.