Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A. N. Wilson Returns to Faith: Let That Be a Lesson to Us All

As Christians living is an increasingly pagan society, it is easy to give in the sin of despair. (Yes, despair is a sin.) It is easy to become cynical and to assume that people will not listen and will never convert. As Karl Barth was always saying, we ought not to take unbelief so seriously.

Well, recently A. N. Wilson came back to faith after having ranted against Christianity for a couple of decades or so. I don't know about you, but I was surprised. But I should not have been. Have I not seen God's grace perform miracles before? Yes, but a high brow intellectual and acclaimed writer? (His biography of Tolstoy, for example, is a tremendous acheivement.) We know that the early church saw plenty of this kind of conversion and, after all, God is still God.

Here is an excerpt from Wilson's article in the Daily Mail. (When he gives his testimony he really gets the word out!)

"Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity?
Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

It also lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion."

I believe that here Wilson gets at the real reason so many people find it hard to profess faith in Chirst today. It isn't really about science or reason or the list of objections we all know about. It is about peer pressure, social prestiege and the desire to appear normal. The appeal of the Dawkins crowd is that they provide a justification (intellectual cover) for doing what people want to do on other grounds - chuck God and all that constricting morality and unpopular dogma so they can get on with their careers and enjoy what used to be termed quaintly: "the pleasures of sin for a season."

Thanks to Wilson for finally having the courage to come out and speak the truth without fear. He may well be considered finally to have grown up both spiritually and emotionally, unlike many others who still struggle to free themselves from adolescent insecurities - many of whom will never make it past those insecurites. For them we all ought to pray. And while we are at it, we might want to confess our own sin of despair and lack of faith. I know I have to.

1 comment:

David said...

In Ends & Means (1937) Aldous Huxley wrote: 'No philosophy is completely disinterested.[...]For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system, and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.' Frankly his honesty is quite refreshing, as is AN Wilson's.