Friday, March 12, 2010

Diary of a Conversion

I came across a wonderful and powerful testimony of a woman (Jennifer Fulwiler) who describes herself as having been a life-long atheist who had "never once believed in God, not even as a child." This is somewhat unusual, as I have seen studies which have shown that belief in the supernatural is almost universal among children across all cultures. It's striking that she also describes herself as having been "vocally anti-Christian" before her conversion.

The story of Jennifer's conversion to Christianity (particularly Catholicism) is simply beautiful, and well worth reading. It's a story of what happens when someone decides to give God a chance. While I can relate to some aspects of her testimony (such as how the world and her life made so much more sense after her conversion compared with prior to it), I can't relate to never having believed in God. I'm one of those for whom the existence of God seemed obvious, although I didn't know who He was and didn't live my life for Him until my conversion at the age of 19.

Sometimes it can be discouraging in trying to share the Gospel with atheists and skeptics, presenting the arguments and evidence, and often seeing nothing as a result. But those arguments can and do work to break down the intellectual barriers to faith that many people have. Jennifer writes, "When I first started reading works by Christian apologists I was quite surprised at how reasonable they were, that their arguments in favor of God and Christ his Son were more involved than the one's I'd always heard (mainly "Shut up," and the old standby "You're going to hell"). I decided to take Pascal up on his wager, to follow St. Augustine on his advice to believe so that you might understand, and to just live my life for a while as if God did exist."

Jennifer listed some of the books that helped influence her in coming to faith, a list that included The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, books which I have used in teaching apologetics in Hungary. It was a blessing to me to see these books included in Jennifer's list!


kilo papa said...

You might want to introduce Jennifer and your readers to "The Case Against the Case for Christ" by Robert Price. You do like to see both sides don't you John?

And as for Lewis' Mere Christianity
(Mere Assertions is a more apt title) have you read John Beversluis' "C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion"?

And noting your missionary status may I recommend Ken Daniels' "Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary".

Enjoy! You little Jebus nutter!!

John Fraser said...

Hi Papa,

Yes, I do like to see both sides, largely because that's how I have come to realize just how weak the skeptical arguments really are. Skeptical writers are mostly bombast and bluster with very little in the way of substance and often shockingly bad arguments that simply would not fly in any other field. Anne Rice started studying skeptical NT studies after years of rigorous historical research in other fields and declared the field of NT studies to be a scandal. She was right.

I haven't read that particular work by Price, but I have read some of his other work. I have a fairly lengthy rebuttal of his rather lame attempt to argue that 1 Cor. 15:3-8 is a later interpolation despite the complete absence of any textual evidence to support that claim. Price is not what I would call a heavy hitter, so I have only passing interest in looking further into his portfolio.

Your other two references are to individuals whom I am unfamiliar with. I tend to stick with scholarly sources, and don't go in much for popular level skeptical trash. I'm more interested in dealing with skeptics like Gerd Ludemann, Ernst Haenchen, and Richard Pervo just to name a few. I'm not really inclined to pursue book recommendations from someone with your posting proclivities!

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My ministry in Hungary involved teaching theology and training Hungarian church planters. I have a great interest in apologetics as well as missions.