I am always fascinated to hear about the ways in which God has worked in people’s lives to draw them to himself. Every such story is interesting (and, moreover, a cause for rejoicing), and so perhaps the title of this post is badly chosen. But I choose to retain it because these are all testimonies with which I particularly identify in some way or other. I hope that many of my readers will feel the same way.
1) Escape from nihilism by J. Budziszewski
J. Budziszewski is a professor of Philosophy and Government at the University of Texas at Austin.
When some people flee from God they rob and kill. When others flee from God they do a lot of drugs and have a lot of sex. When I fled from God I didn't do any of those things; my way of fleeing was to get stupid. Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that one must be highly intelligent and educated to commit. God keeps them in his arsenal to pull down mulish pride, and I discovered them all. That is how I ended up doing a doctoral dissertation to prove that we make up the difference between good and evil and that we aren't responsible for what we do. I remember now that I even taught these things to students; now that's sin.
It was also agony. You cannot imagine what a person has to do to himself--well, if you are like I was, maybe you can--what a person has to do to himself to go on believing such nonsense. […]
Visualize a man opening up the access panels of his mind and pulling out all the components that have God's image stamped on them. The problem is that they all have God's image stamped on them, so the man can never stop. No matter how much he pulls out, there's still more to pull. I was that man. Because I pulled out more and more, there was less and less that I could think about. But because there was less and less that I could think about, I thought I was becoming more and more focussed. Because I believed things that filled me with dread, I thought I was smarter and braver than the people who didn't believe them. I thought I saw an emptiness at the heart of the universe that was hidden from their foolish eyes. Of course I was the fool.
2) How I came to faith by William Lane Craig
William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.
I became very bitter toward the institutional church because of the phoniness that I thought it represented […] I began to read the New Testament […] and as I did so I was absolutely captivated by the person of Jesus of Nazareth. There was a wisdom about his teaching that I had never encountered before, and there was an authenticity about his life that wasn’t characteristic of [some of] his followers […] I realised at that point that I couldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
3) Quam dilecta by Peter van Inwagen
Peter van Inwagen is John Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
There is, I believe, an identifiable and cohesive historical phenomenon that named itself the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, and which, although it long ago abandoned the name, still exists. Like the Church, it does not speak with one voice. Like the Church, it has no central government. Like the Church, it is made up of many groups some of which heartily detest many of the others--some of which, indeed, regard themselves as its sole true representatives and all others who claim to be its representatives as wolves in sheep's clothing. Like the Church, it has a creed, although, unlike the Church's creeds, its creed has never received an official formulation. […]
The Enlightenment has had its chance with me and I have found it wanting. I was once one of its adherents, and now I am an apostate. On the level of intellectual argument and evidence, it leaves a lot to be desired. And its social consequences have been horrible.
I am going to compare the attractiveness of the Church and the Enlightenment. I will group my comparisons into three parts. First, it seems to me, the teachings of the Church are, as I shall say, "congruent" with the facts of science and history in a way that the "creed" of the Enlightenment is not, and I shall discuss this. Secondly, I shall compare the "fruits" of the Church with the fruits of the Enlightenment. Thirdly, I shall compare the effects of adherence to the Church and to the Enlightenment in the lives of individuals.
4) A surprising discovery by Anne Rice
Anne Rice is the author of the hugely successful Vampire Chronicles and many other books.
I had taken in a lot of fashionable notions about Jesus—that he’d been oversold, that the Gospels were “late” documents, that we really didn’t know anything about him, that violence and quarrelling marked the movement of Christianity from its start. I’d acquired many books on Jesus, and the filled the shelves of my office. […]
What gradually came clear to me was that many of the skeptical arguments—arguments that insisted most of the Gospels were suspect, for instance, or written too late to be eyewitness accounts—lacked coherence. They were not elegant. Arguments about Jesus himself were full of conjecture. Some books were no more than assumptions piled upon assumptions. Absurd conclusions were reached on the basis of little or no data at all.
In sum, the whole case for the nondivine Jesus who stumbled into Jerusalem and somehow got crucified by nobody and had nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and would be horrified by it if he knew about it—that the whole picture which has floated in the liberal circles I frequented as an atheist for thirty years—that case was not made. Not only was it not made. I discovered in this field some of the worst and most biased scholarship I’d ever read.
5) I am second by Brian ‘Head’ Welch
Brian Welch was formerly the guitarist for (and a founding member of) the multiplatinum nu-metal band KoRn, and is now a solo artist.
I felt so much fatherly love from heaven, and it was like ‘I don’t condemn you; I love you’. It was just love. And instantly that love from God came into me. […] It changed me – my heart was changed like that.
My dream came true way more than I dreamt about. […] I tried everything to try to get pleasure out of this life, and I thought that I could fulfil my life with all this stuff, having my dream come true. It came true, but it didn’t fulfil it. And Christ came in, that feeling he gives you: the gift of understanding life, which is that everything was created for Christ and by him, and we’re created to be with him. And it’s the most incredible feeling because you’re where you belong.