Skeptics for the Christian Faith!
Compiled by W. R. Miller, Earle Albert Rowell, Philip Schaff

From the first century and beyond, there have been skeptics of the Christian faith who have, in the course of their investigations, actually testified on behalf of the Christian faith. In his book, Person of Christ: The Miracle of History, With a Reply to Strauss and Renan, and a Collection of Testimonies of Unbelievers (New York: Charles Scribner & Co., 1866), Philip Schaff documents a number of famous skeptics laudatory to the character of Jesus Christ.

Schaff writes, "Our present task is limited to the testimonies of opponents of the old faith of the Church in her divine-human Head and Saviour. The concession of an enemy sometimes carries more weight in an argument than the assertion of a friend. Honey may be extracted even from a dead lion. "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness" (Judges xiv. 14).

"The testimonies we are going to produce are important and interesting in various ways. They prove, especially those of more recent times, that there is in the inmost heart of man an instinctive and growing reverence and admiration for the spotless purity and perfection of Christ as the holy of holies in the history of the race. Infidels may deny his miracles; but they cannot deny his power, or assail his character, without doing violence to the noblest feelings and aspirations of their own nature, and forfeiting all claim to the moral respect of their fellow-men. It seems to be felt more and more, that he is, without controversy, the very best being that ever walked on this earth, and that an attack on his character is an insult to the honor and dignity of humanity itself. And this feeling and conviction becomes stronger and deeper as history advances. The impression of Christ upon the world, far from losing ground, is gaining new strength with every stage of civilization, and controls even the best thinking of his enemies.

"These testimonies; on the other hand, expose also the glaring inconsistency of unbelief, in admitting the absolute purity and truthfulness of Christ, and yet refusing his own testimony concerning himself; in praising his perfection as a man, and yet denying his Divinity on which it rests, and which alone Call satisfactorily explain it in a universally imperfect world.

"This inconsistency, which has been repeatedly noticed in the preceding Essay, is clearly brought out, with special reference to Renan, by the distinguished statesman and historian, M. Guizot, who consecrates the closing years of his retreat to the defence of revealed religion. I beg leave to conclude these introductory remarks with an appropriate quotation from his recent Meditations on the Essence of the Christian Religion: [pp. 293-296]

"Those who do not believe in Jesus, nor admit the supernatural character of his person, of his life, and of his work, are free of this difficulty [of giving adequate expression in human language to the intimate and continual intermixture of the divine and human in Christ]. Having beforehand suppressed the divinity and the miracles, they see in the history of Jesus Christ nothing more than an ordinary history, which they narrate and explain like any other biography of man. But they fall into a far different difficulty, and wreck themselves on a far different rock. The supernatural being and power of Jesus Christ may be disputed; but the perfection, the sublimity of his actions and of his precepts, of his life and of his moral law, are incontestable: and, in effect, not only are they not contested, but they are admired and celebrated enthusiastically and complacently. It would seem as if it were desired to restore to Jesus Christ as a mere man the superiority of which they deprive him in refusing to see in him the Godhead. But then, what incoherence, what contradictions, what falsehood, what moral impossibility, in his history, such as they make it! What a series of suppositions, irreconcilable with the facts which they admit! This man they make so perfect and sublime becomes by turns a dreamer or a charlatan; at once dupe and deceiver,--dupe of his own mystical enthusiasm in believing in his own miracles, willful deceiver in tampering with evidence in order to accredit himself. The history of Jesus Christ is thus but a tissue of fables and falsehood; and, nevertheless, the hero of this history remains perfect, sublime, incomparable,--the greatest genius, the noblest heart, that the world ever saw; the type of virtue and moral beauty; the supreme and rightful chief of mankind. And his disciples in their turn, justly admirable, have braved every thing, suffered every thing, in order to abide faithful to him, and to accomplish his work; and, in effect, the work has been accomplished,--the Pagan world has become Christian, and the whole world has nothing better to do than to follow the example."

Author Earle Albert Rowell--a former skeptic of Christianity--wrote a book, David Dare: Dissolving Doubts, which featured skeptics with quotes favorable to Christianity. In addition to Rowell and Schaff, we have researched and found other skeptics for the Christian faith, some of whom have, upon careful and honest investigation, have become disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

See also Northrop, Stephen Abbott, A Cloud of witnesses. The greatest men in the world for Christ and the book. An exhaustive and unprecedented consensus of biographic and autographic opinions respecting the author of Christianity and the Bible from over one thousand illustrious personages outside the clerical professions. 1902.

See also Furches, Joel, Atheists Who Convert: A Case Study. Updated on September 1, 2016.



Skeptics

Bonaparte, Napoleon (1769-1821) – Emperor of France
    Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. Confidential Correspondence of the Emperor Napoleon and the Empress Josephine; including letters from the time of their marriage until the death of Josephine, and also several private letters from the emperor to his brother Joseph, and other important personages. With numerous illustrative notes and anecdotes. By John S. C. Abbott. New York: Mason brothers, 1856. viii, [9]-404 p. 18 cm.

    "Robert-Antoine de Beauterne: Sentiments de Napoléon sur le Christianisme. Conversations religieuses recueillies a Sainte-Hélène, par le Gén. comte de Montholon." Paris, 1843, third ed. (see the title in Oettinger's "Bibliographie Biographique").

    John S. C. Abbott's "Life of Napoleon" (vol. ii. chap. xxxii. p. 612 ff.), as also in Abbott's "Confidential Correspondence of the Emperor Napoleon with the Empress Josephine" (New York, 1855, pp. 353-363), Please read Schaff's essay on Napoleon Bonaparte in tracking down the source material for this quote at CCEL.

    "We give the testimony as we find it, first in the original form, a French tract, marked No. 51, but without date; and then in an enlarged translation from Tract No. 477 of the American Tract Society (New York); and from Abbott's works on Napoleon, alluded to above."

    One day, Napoleon was speaking of the Divinity of Christ; when General Bertrand said:--

    "I can not conceive, sire, how a great man like you can believe that the Supreme Being ever exhibited himself to men under a human form, with a body, a face, mouth, and eyes. Let Jesus be whatever you please,--the highest intelligence, the purest heart, themost profound legislator, and, in all respects, the most singular being who has ever existed: I grant it. Still, he was simply a man, who taught his disciples, and deluded credulous people, as did Orpheus, Confucius, Brahma. Jesus caused himself to be adored, because his predecessors, Isis and Osiris, Jupiter and Juno, had proudly made themselves objects of worship. The ascendency of Jesus over his time was like the ascendency of the gods and the heroes of fable. If Jesus has impassioned and attached to his chariot the multitude, if he has revolutionized the world, I see in that only the power of genius, and the action of a commanding spirit, which vanquishes the world, as so many conquerors have done--Alexander, Cæsar, you, sire, and Mohammed--with a sword."

    Napoleon replied:--

    "I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity.

    "We can say to the authors of every other religion, 'You are neither gods, nor the agents of the Deity. You are but missionaries of falsehood, moulded from the same clay with the rest of mortals. You are made with all the passions and vices inseparable from them. Your temples and your priests proclaim your origin.' Such will be the judgment, the cry of conscience, of whoever examines the gods and the temples of paganism.

    "Paganism was never accepted as truth by the wise men of Greece; neither by Socrates, Pythagoras, Plato, Anaxagoras, or Pericles. On the other side, the loftiest intellects, since the advent of Christianity, have had faith, a living faith, a practical faith, in the mysteries and the doctrines of the gospel; not only Bossuet and Fenelon, who were preachers, but Descartes and Newton, Leibnitz and Pascal, Corneille and Racine, Charlemagne and Louis XIV.

    "Paganism is the work of man. One can here read but our imbecility. What do these gods, so boastful, know more than other mortals; these legislators, Greek or Roman; this Numa; this Lycurgus; these priests of India or of Memphis; this Confucius; this Mohammed'?--absolutely nothing. They have made a perfect chaos of mortals. There is not one among them all who has said any thing new in reference to our future destiny, to the soul, to the essence of God, to the creation. Enter the sanctuaries of paganism: you there find perfect chaos, a thousand contradictions, war between the gods, the immobility of sculpture, the division and the rending of unity, the parceling out of the divine attributes mutilated or denied in their essence, the sophisms of ignorance and presumption, polluted fêtes, impurity and abomination adored, all sorts of corruption festering in the thick shades, with the rotten wood, the idol, and the priest. Does this honor God, or does it dishonor him? Are these religions and these gods to be compared with Christianity?

    "As for me, I say, No. I summon entire Olympus to my tribunal. I judge the gods, but am far from prostrating myself before their vain images. The gods, the legislators of India and of China, of Rome and of Athens, have nothing which can overawe me. Not that I am unjust to them. No: I appreciate them, because I know their value. Undeniably, princes, whose existence is fixed in the memory as an image of order and of power, as the ideal of force and beauty: such princes were no ordinary men.

    "I see, in Lycurgus, Numa, and Mohammed, only legislators, who have the first rank in the State; have sought the best solution of the social problem: but I see nothing there which reveals Divinity. They themselves have never raised their pretensions so high. As for me, I recognize the gods, and these great men, as beings like myself. They have performed a lofty part in their times, as I have done. Nothing announces them divine. On the contrary, there are numerous resemblances between them and myself,--foibles and errors which ally them to me and to humanity.

    "It is not so with Christ. Every thing in him astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and his will confounds me. Between him and whoever else in the world there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by himself. His ideas and his sentiments, the truths which he announces, his manner of convincing, are not explained either by human organization or by the nature of things.

    "His birth, and the history of his life; the profundity of his doctrine, which grapples the mightiest difficulties, and which is of those difficulties the most admirable solution; his gospel, his apparition, his empire, his march across the ages and the realms,--every thing is for me a prodigy, a mystery insoluble, which plunges me into reveries which I can not escape; a mystery which is there before my eyes; a mystery which I can neither deny nor explain. Here I see nothing human.

    "The nearer I approach, the more carefully I examine, every thing is above me; every thing remains grand,--of a grandeur which overpowers. His religion is a revelation from an intelligence which certainly is not that of man. There is there a profound originality which has created a series of words and of maxims before unknown. Jesus borrowed nothing from our science. One can absolutely find nowhere, but in him alone, the imitation 321or the example of his life. He is not a philosopher, since he advances by miracles; and, from the commencement, his disciples worshiped him. He persuaded them far more by an appeal to the heart than by any display of method and of logic. Neither did he impose upon them any preliminary studies, or any knowledge of letters. All his religion consists in believing.

    "In fact, the sciences and philosophy avail nothing for salvation; and Jesus came into the world to reveal the mysteries of heaven and the laws of the spirit. Also he has nothing to do but with the soul; and to that alone he brings his gospel. The soul is sufficient for him, as he is sufficient for the soul. Before him, the soul was nothing. Matter and time were the masters of the world. At his voice, every thing returns to order. Science and philosophy become secondary. The soul has reconquered its sovereignty. All the scholastic scaffolding falls, as an edifice ruined, before one single word,--faith.

    322

    "What a master, and what a word, which can effect such a revolution! With what authority does he teach men to pray! He imposes his belief; and no one, thus far, has been able to contradict him: first, because the gospel contains the purest morality; and also because the doctrine which it contains of obscurity is only the proclamation and the truth of that which exists where no eye can see, and no reason can penetrate. Who is the insensate who will say 'No' to the intrepid voyager who recounts the marvels of the icy peaks which he alone has had the boldness to visit? Christ is that bold voyager. One can, doubtless, remain incredulous; but no one can venture to say, 'It is not so.'

    "Moreover, consult the philosophers upon those mysterious questions which relate to the essence of man and the essence of religion. What is their response? Where is the man of good sense who has never learned any thing from the system of metaphysics; ancient or modern, which is not truly a vain and pompous ideology, without any connection with our domestic life, with our passions? Unquestionably, with skill in thinking, one can seize the key of the philosophy of Socrates and Plato. But, to do this, it is necessary to be a metaphysician; and moreover, with years of study, one must possess special aptitude. But good sense alone, the heart, an honest spirit, are sufficient to comprehend Christianity. The Christian religion is neither ideology nor metaphysics, but a practical rule which directs the actions of man, corrects him, counsels him, and assists him in all his conduct. The Bible contains a complete series of facts and of historical men, to explain time and eternity, such as no other religion has to offer. If it is not the true religion, one is very excusable in being deceived; for every thing in it is grand, and worthy of God. I search in vain in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ, or any thing which can approach the gospel. Neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature, offer me any thing with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here every thing is extraordinary. The more I consider the gospel, the more I am assured that there is nothing there which is not beyond the march of events, and above the human mind. Even the impious themselves have never dared to deny the sublimity of the gospel, which inspires them with a sort of compulsory veneration. What happiness that book procures for those who believe it! What marvels those admire there who reflect upon it!

    "All the words there are embedded, and joined one upon another, like the stones of an edifice. The spirit which binds these words together is a divine cement, which now reveals the sense, and again vails it from the mind. Each phrase has a sense complete, which traces the perfection of unity, and the profundity of the whole. Book unique! where the mind finds a moral beauty before unknown; and an idea of the Supreme, superior even to that which creation suggests. Who but God could produce that type, that idea of perfection, equally exclusive and original?

    "Christ, having but a few weak disciples, was condemned to death. He died the object of the wrath of the Jewish priests, and of the contempt of the nation, and abandoned and denied by his own disciples.

    "'They are about to take me, and to crucify me,' said he. 'I shall be abandoned of all the world. My chief disciples will deny me at the commencement of my punishment. I shall be left to the wicked. But then, divine justice being satisfied, original sin being expiated by my sufferings, the bond of man to God will be renewed, and my death will be the life of my disciples. Then they will be more strong without me than with me; for they shall see me rise again. I shall ascend to the skies, and I shall send to them from heaven a Spirit who will instruct them. The Spirit of the Cross will enable them to understand my gospel. In fine, they will believe it; they will preach it; and they will convert the world.'

    "And this strange promise, so aptly called by Paul 'the foolishness of the cross,' this prediction of one miserably crucified, is literally accomplished; and the mode of the accomplishment is perhaps more prodigious than the promise.

    "It is not a day, nor a battle, which has decided it. Is it the lifetime of a man? No: it is a war, a long combat, of three hundred years, commenced by the apostles, and continued by their successors and by succeeding generations of Christians. In this conflict, all the kings and all the forces of the earth were arrayed on one side. Upon the other, I see no army but a mysterious energy, individuals scattered here and there, in all parts of the globe, having no other rallying sign than a common faith in the mysteries of the cross.

    "What a mysterious symbol, the instrument of the punishment of the Man-God! His disciples were armed with it. 'The Christ,' they said, 'God, has died for the salvation of men.' What a strife, what a tempest, these simple words have raised around the humble standard of the punishment of the Man-God! On the one side, we see rage and all the furies of hatred and violence; on the other, there are gentleness, moral courage, infinite resignation. For three hundred years, spirit struggled against the brutality of sense, conscience against despotism, the soul against the body, virtue against all the vices. The blood of Christians flowed in torrents. They died kissing the hand which slew them. The soul alone protested, while the body surrendered itself to all tortures. Everywhere Christians fell, and everywhere they triumphed.

    "You speak of Cæsar, of Alexander, of their conquests, and of the enthusiasm which they enkindled in the hearts of their soldiers; but can you conceive of a dead man making conquests, with an army faithful, and entirely devoted to his memory. My armies have forgotten me even while living, as the Carthaginian army forgot Hannibal. Such is our power! A single battle lost crushes us, and adversity scatters our friends.

    "Can you conceive of Cæsar as the eternal emperor of the Roman senate, and, from the depth of his mausoleum, governing the empire, watching over the destinies of Rome? Such is the history of the invasion and conquest of the world by Christianity; such is the power of the God of the Christians; and such is the perpetual miracle of the progress of the faith, and of the government of his Church. Nations pass away, thrones crumble; but the Church remains. What is, then, the power which has protected this Church, thus assailed by the furious billows of rage and the hostility of ages? Whose is the arm, which, for eighteen hundred years, has protected the Church from so many storms which have threatened to ingulf it?

    "Alexander, Cæsar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love; and, at this hour, millions of men would die for him.

    "In every other existence but that of Christ, how many imperfections! Where is the character which has not yielded, vanquished by obstacles? Where is the individual who has never been governed by circumstances or places; who has never succumbed to the influences of the times; who has never compounded with any customs or passions? From the first day to the last, he is the same, always the same; majestic and simple; infinitely firm, and infinitely gentle.

    "Truth should embrace the universe. Such is Christianity,--the only religion which destroys sectional prejudices; the only one which proclaims the unity and the absolute brotherhood of the whole human family; the only one which is purely spiritual; in fine, the only one which assigns to all, without distinction, for a true country, the bosom of the Creator, God. Christ proved that he was the Son of the Eternal by his disregard of time. All his doctrines signify one only and the same thing,--eternity.

    "It is true that Christ proposes to our faith a series of mysteries. He commands with authority, that we should believe them,--giving no other reason than those tremendous words, 'I am God.' He declares it. What an abyss he creates by that declaration between himself' and all the fabricators of religion! What audacity, what sacrilege, what blasphemy, if it were not true! I say more: The universal triumph of an affirmation of that kind, if the triumph were not really that of God himself, would be a plausible excuse, and the proof of atheism.

    "Moreover, in propounding mysteries, Christ is harmonious with Nature, which is profoundly mysterious. From whence do I come? whither do I go? who am I? Human life is a mystery in its origin, its organization, and its end. In man and out of man, in Nature, every thing is mysterious. And can one wish that religion should not be mysterious? The creation and the destiny of the world are an unfathomable abyss, as also are the creation and destiny of each individual. Christianity at least does not evade these great questions; it meets them boldly: and our doctrines are a solution of them for every one who believes.

    "The gospel possesses a secret virtue, a mysterious efficacy, a warmth which penetrates and soothes the heart. One finds, in meditating upon it, that which one experiences in contemplating the heavens. The gospel is not a book: it is a living being, with an action, a power, which invades every thing that opposes its extension. Behold! it is upon this table: this book, surpassing all others [here the emperor deferentially placed his hand upon it], I never omit to read it, and every day with the same pleasure.

    "Nowhere is to be found such a series of beautiful ideas; admirable moral maxims, which pass before us like the battalions of a celestial army, and which produce in our soul the same emotions which one experiences in contemplating the infinite expanse of the skies, resplendent in a summer's night with all the brilliance of the stars. Not only is our mind absorbed; it is controlled: and the soul can never go astray with this book for its guide. Once master of our spirit, the faithful gospel loves us. God even is our friend, our father, and truly our God. The mother has no greater care for the infant whom she nurses.

    "What a proof of the Divinity of Christ! With an empire so absolute, he has but one single end,--the spiritual melioration of individuals, the purity of the conscience, the union to that which is true, the holiness of the soul.

    "Christ speaks, and at once generations become his by stricter, closer ties than those of blood,--by the most sacred, the most indissoluble, of unions. He lights up the flames of a love which prevails over every other love. The founders of other religions never conceived of this mystical love, which is the essence of Christianity, and is beautifully called charity. In every attempt to affect this thing, viz. to make himself beloved, man deeply feels his own impotence. So that Christ's greatest miracle undoubtedly is the reign of charity.

    "I have so inspired multitudes, that they would die for me. God forbid that I should form any comparison between the enthusiasm of the soldier and Christian charity, which are as unlike as their cause!

    "But, after all, my presence was necessary: the lightning of my eye, my voice, a word from me, then the sacred fire was kindled in their hearts. I do, indeed, possess the secret of this magical power which lifts the soul; but I could never impart it to any one. None of my generals ever learned it from me. Nor have I the means of perpetuating my name and love for me in the hearts of men, and to effect these things without physical means.

    "Now that I am at St. Helena, now that I am alone, chained upon this rock, who fights and wins empires for me? who are the courtiers of my misfortune? who thinks of me? who makes effort for me in Europe? Where are my friends? Yes: two or three, whom your fidelity immortalizes, you share, you console, my exile."

    Here the emperor's voice trembled with emotion, and for a moment he was silent. He then continued:--

    "Yes: our life once shone with all the brilliance of the diadem and the throne; and yours, Bertrand, reflected that splendor, as the dome of the Invalides, gilt by us, reflects the rays of the sun. But disaster came: the gold gradually became dim. The rain of misfortune and outrage, with which I am daily deluged, has effaced all the brightness. We are mere lead now, General Bertrand; and soon I shall be in my grave.

    "Such is the fate of great men! So it was with Cæsar and Alexander. And I, too, am forgotten; and the name of a conqueror and an emperor is a college theme! Our exploits are tasks given to pupils by their tutors, who sit in judgment upon us, awarding censure or praise. And mark what is soon to become of me: assassinated by the English oligarchy, I die before my time; and my dead body, too, must return to the earth, to become food for worms. Behold the destiny, near at hand, of him whom the world called the great Napoleon! What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal reign of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored, and which is extending over all the earth! Is this to die? is it not rather to live? The death of Christ--it is the death of God!"

    For a moment the emperor was silent. As General Bertrand made no reply, he solemnly added, "If you do not perceive that Jesus Christ is God, very well: then I did wrong to make you a general."


Casey, Maurice (Fl. 21st Century); British Independent Historian
    Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of His Life and Teaching. Continuum, December 30, 2010.

    "I found it fruitful to consider the Nazi period, which is generally omitted, but which is illuminating because Nazi scholars deliberately tried to aviod the Jewishness of Jesus. This helps us to see the social function of most of the quest, which also avoids the Jewishness of Jesus."

    ... "This view [that Jesus never existed] is demonstrably false. It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt. This is not merely worse than the American Jesus Seminar, it is no better than Christian fundamentalism. It simply has different prejudices. Most of its proponents are also extraordinarily incompetent."--pg. 499


Celsus (2nd century A.D.) – Greek philosopher, anti-Christian
  • Philip Schaff comments here:

    Celsus, a Grecian eclectic philosopher of the second century, is the first heathen author who wrote an express work against Christianity. It bears the title, "A True Discourse." Origen, in his able and effective refutation, has faithfully preserved the principal portions of it in the author's own language. Celsus employs all the aids which the culture of his age afforded--the weapons of learning, philosophy, common sense, wit, sarcasm, and dramatic animation of style--to disprove and ridicule Christianity and its followers. He combines the hatred of Judaism and the contempt of heathenism, and anticipates most of the arguments and sophisms of the Deists and Naturalists of later times.

    And yet even this able infidel assailant, who lived almost within hailing distance of the apostolic age, bears witness, as St. Chrysostom already remarked, to the antiquity of the apostolic writings and the main facts of the gospel history. He thus furnishes a strong argument against the modern mythical and legendary biographists of Jesus. Celsus refers to the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John; and makes, upon the whole, about eighty allusions to, or quotations from, the New Testament. He takes notice of Christ's birth from a virgin in a small village of Judæa; the adoration of the wise men from the East; the slaughter of the infants by order of Herod; the flight to Egypt, where he supposes Christ learned the charms of magicians; his residence in Nazareth; his baptism, and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove, and the voice from heaven; the election of his disciples; his friendship with publicans and other low people; his cures of the lame and the blind, and raising of the dead; the betrayal of Judas; the denial of Peter; the principal circumstances in the history of the passion and crucifixion; also the resurrection of Christ. It is true, he perverts or abuses most of these facts; but, according to his own showing, they were then generally, and had always been, believed by the Christians. He does not deny the miracles of Jesus, but, like the Jews, he derives them from evil spirits, and makes Jesus a magician and impostor. He alludes also to some of the principal doctrines of the Christians, to their private assemblies for worship, and to the office of presbyters. He omits the grosser charges of immorality, which he probably considered absurd and incredible....

    For a fuller account of Celsus' argument, see the author's "Church History," vol. i. p. 187 ff. (here) Lardner, Doddridge, and Leland made good use of Celsus against the Deists of their day. He may, with still greater effect, be turned against Strauss and Renan.

    See also Schaff's "Celsus and Lucian," here


The Centurion at the Cross (1st century A.D.)
  • Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

    Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

    Luke 23:45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. 47Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

  • Read Schaff's commentary, "The Centurion at the Cross," here.

Channing, William Ellery (April 7, 1780 – October 2, 1842) – Unitarian theologian
  • From the Sermon on the Character of Christ (on Matt. xvii. 5), in Dr. Channing's Works, Boston, 1848, vol. iv. pp. 1-29; source

    This Jesus lived with men: with the consciousness of unutterable majesty, he joined a lowliness, gentleness, humanity, and sympathy which have no example in human history. I ask you to contemplate this wonderful union. In proportion to the superiority of Jesus to all around him, was the intimacy, the brotherly love, with which he bound himself to them. I maintain that this is a character wholly remote from human conception. To imagine it to be the production of imposture or enthusiasm, shows a strange unsoundness of mind. I contemplate it with a veneration second only to the profound awe with which I look up to God. It bears no mark of human invention. It was real. It belonged to, and it manifested, the beloved Son of God. . . .

    Here I pause; and indeed I know not what can be added to heighten the wonder, reverence, and love which are due to Jesus. When I consider him, not only as possessed with the consciousness of an unexampled and unbounded majesty, but as recognizing a kindred nature in human beings, and living and dying to raise them to a participation of his divine glories; and when I see him, under these views, allying himself to men by the tenderest ties, embracing them with a spirit of humanity, which no insult, injury, or pain could for a moment repel or overpower,--I am filled with wonder as well as reverence and love. I feel that this character is not of human invention; that it was not assumed through fraud, or struck out by enthusiasm; for it is infinitely above their reach. When I add this character of Jesus to the other evidences of his religion, it gives, to what before seemed so strong, a new and a vast accession of strength: I feel as if I could not be deceived. The Gospels must be true: they were drawn, from a living original; they were founded on reality. The character of Jesus is not a fiction: he was what he claimed to be, and what his followers attested. Nor is this all. Jesus not only was, he is still, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. He exists now: he has entered that heaven to which he always looked forward on earth. There he lives and reigns. With a clear, calm faith, I see him in that state of glory; and I confidently expect, at no distant period, to see him face to face. We have, indeed, no absent friend whom we shall so surely meet. Let us then, my hearers, by imitation of his virtues, and obedience to his word, prepare ourselves to join him in those pure mansions, where he is surrounding himself with the good and pure of our race, and will communicate to them for ever his own spirit, power, and joy.

  • From Dr. Channing's Discourse on The Imitableness of Christ (Works, vol. iv. p. 140):-- source:

    I believe Jesus Christ to be more than a human being. In truth, all Christians so believe him. Those who suppose him not to have existed before his birth do not regard him as a mere man, though so reproached. They always separate him by broad distinctions from other men. They consider him as enjoying a communion with God, and as having received gifts, endowments, aid, lights, from him, granted to no other; and as having exhibited a spotless purity, which is the highest 340distinction of heaven. All admit, and joyfully admit, that Jesus Christ, by his greatness and goodness, throws all other human attainments into obscurity.

  • Schaff comments on William Ellery Channing here and here

Chubb, Thomas (1679-1748) – English philosopher, Deist
  • The True Gospel of Jesus Christ asserted. Wherein is shewn what is, and what is not that gospelTo which is added A short dissertation on providence. London, 1738. 250 pp. Extract, sect. viii. pp. 55, 56.

    "In [Christ] we have an example of a quiet and peaceable spirit; of a becoming modesty and sobriety; just, honest, upright, sincere; and, above all, of a most gracious and benevolent temper and behavior. One who did no wrong, no injury to any man; in whose mouth was no guile; Who went about doing good, not only by his ministry, but also in curing all manner of diseases among the people. His life was a beautiful picture of human nature in its native purity and simplicity, and showed at once what excellent creatures men would be when under the influence and power of that gospel which he preached unto them."

  • Read Schaff's observations on Thomas Chubb here.

Cobbe, Frances Power (December 4, 1822-April 5, 1904) – Irish writer. Unitarian.
  • From Broken Lights: An Inquiry into the present Condition and future Prospects of Religious Faith. Boston, 1864, p. 150 ff.

    The four Gospels have given us so living, if not so correct, an image, and that image has shone out so long in golden radiance before the dazzled eyes of Christendom, that to admit it may be partially erroneous is the utmost stretch of our philosophy. We still persist in arguing and debating as if it were absolutely perfect. Small marvel, truly, is it so, when even the confessed creations of the poet's genius--a Hamlet or a Lear--become to us real persons on whom we argue and debate. Who shall say how real is that ideal Christ whom all of us hold in our hearts, whom nearly all of us have worshiped on our knees? . . .

    Of that noblest countenance which once smiled upon the plains of Palestine, we possess not, nor will mankind ever recover, any perfect and infallible picture, any sun-drawn photograph which might tell us, with unerring certainty, he was or lie was not as our hearts may conceive of him. Rather do we only look sorrowfully over the waves of time to behold reflected therein some such faint and wavering image as his face may have cast on the Lake of Galilee, as he leaned at eventide from the ship of his disciples over the waters, stirred and rippling before the breeze. Some features too often recur to leave us altogether mistaken concerning them, and the impression of the whole countenance is one 'full of grace and truth.' But of the details we can decide nothing, nor pretend to speak of them as clear or assured.

    One thing, however, we may hold with approximate certainty; and that is, that all the highest doctrines, the purest moral precepts, the most profound spiritual revelations, recorded in the Gospels, were actually those of Christ himself. The originator of the Christian movement must have been the greatest soul of his time, as of all time. If he did not speak those words of wisdom, who could have recorded them for him? 'It would have taken a Jesus to forge a Jesus.' (Theodore Parker.) . . .

    That in him who assuredly possessed the deepest spiritual experience, and reached the highest spiritual eminence of all the sons of men, his disciples should have embodied the spiritual history of all humanity, is not a matter of surprise. It may be that his life did pass through all the phases of the inner world. It may be that there was a day when the first sense of independent religion awoke in his yet childish heart, and he asked his parent, 'Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?' It may be there was a long period of lonely thought and ascetic practice upon those desolate, burning hills of the Quarantania, closing at last with the same fierce strife, with tempting passions and interests, which every strong soul has undergone, and every saint has ended with the same victorious word, 'Get thee behind me, Satan!' It may be there was an hour of transfiguration, when his soul became glorified in the full splendor of God's love, and the spirits of the holy dead seemed not more heavenly than his own. It may be there was a dread night in Gethsemane, when the first warfare of the temptation had to be won again wit harder strife, and deeper prayers, and fast-falling tears of blood, till it, too, closed in victory, still holier and more complete,--'Not my will, but Thine, be done.' It may be there was one darkest moment of all, when, in the fainting agony of the cross, God hid his face, withdrew the conscious Presence which could make all torture endurable, and left him to that uttermost trial which wrung forth the cry (the bitterest which ever broke from human lips), 'My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?' It may be that the dread darkness of the passion passed away; and, as the end drew on, the Christ knew that his Father's work, begun so long ago in the temple, was accomplished, and that his Father's love should be his portion for ever; that not now Moses and Elias, but the poor crucified thief beside him, should that day be with him in Paradise; that he might pray for his cruel foes, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,' and then look back over his whole life's task, and bow his head, and say, 'It is finished!'

    It may be that all these things were absolutely true; that, in the life of Jesus, the great Allegory of Humanity was a real fact taking place under the sun. We can believe that so it was; or, if not, then that it had another and more spiritual reality in the souls of those millions who have ever since recognized it as bearing an eternal truth under the vail of holiest parable.

    For Schaff's essay on Frances Power Cobbe, see here


Darwin, Charles (February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882)-- Naturalist. Proponent of theory of evolution.
  • Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of H. M. S. Beagle Round the World. London: 1852. Extracts, pp. 1-6, 408-437, 511-512.

    Page 414: "On the whole, it appears to me that the morality and religion of the inhabitants [of Tahiti] are highly creditable. There are many who attack, even more acrimoniously than Kotzebue, both the missionaries, their system, and the effects produced by it. Such reasoners never compare the present state with that of the island only twenty years ago; nor even with that of Europe at this day; but they compare it with the high standard of Gospel perfection. ... In as much as the condition of the people falls short of this high standard, blame is attached to the missionary, instead of credit for that which he has effected. They forget, or will not remember, that human sacrifices and the power of an idolatrous priesthood - a system of profligacy unparalleled in another part of the world - infanticide, a consequent of that system - bloody wars, where conquerors spared neither women nor children - that all these have been abolished; and that dishonesty, intemperance, and licentiousness have been greatly reduced by Christianity. In a voyager to forget these things is base ingratitude; for should he chance to be at the point of shipwreck on some unknown coast, he will most devoutly pray that the lesson of the missionary may have reached thus far."

    Page 425: "All this is very surprising, when it is considered that five years ago nothing but the fern flourished here. Moreover, native workmanship, taught by the missionaries, has effected this change;--The lesson of the missionary is the enchanter's wand. The house has been built, the widows framed, the fields ploughed, and even the trees grafted by the New Zealander."

    Page 426: "Several young men, redeemed by the missionaries from slavery, were employed on the farm."

    Page 505: "From seeing the present state, it is impossible not to look forward with high expectations to the future progress of nearly an entire hemisphere. The march of improvement, consequent on the introduction of Christianity throughout the south Seas, probably stands by itself in the records of history."


Diderot, Denis (October 5, 1713–July 31, 1784) – French philosopher. Chief editor of the Encyclopédie
  • Schaff: The late venerable Antistes Hess of Zurich, the author of a "Life of Jesus" and other good works, relates from the mouth of a personal witness the following interesting anecdote, which we will give (from Stier's "Reden Jesu," part vi. p. 496) in the original French, and in an English translation--

    "Dans une de ces soirées du Baron d'Holbach où se reunissaient les plus célèbres incredules du siècle, on venait de se donner pleine carrière pour rélever le plus plaisamment du monde les prétendues absurdités, les bêtises, les inepties de tout genre dont fourmillent nos livres sacrés. Le philosophe Diderot, qui n'avait pas pris lui-même une mince part à la conversation, finit par l'arrêter tout à coup en disant:

    "A merveilles, messieurs, à merveilles, je ne connais personne en France ni ailleurs, qui sache écrire et parler avec plus d'art et de talent. Cependant malgré tout le mal que nous avons dis, et sans doute avec beaucoup de raison, de ce diable de livre, j'ose vous défier, tout sant que vous êtes, de faire un recit qui soit aussi simple, mais en même temps aussi sublime, aussi touchant que le récit de la passion et de la mort de Jésus-Christ, qui produise le même effet, qui fasse une sensation aussi forte, aussi généralement ressentie, et dont l'influence soit encore la même après tant de siècles."

    "Cette apostrophe imprévue étonna tous les auditeurs, et fut suivie même d'un assez long silence."

    ***

    "In one of those evening parties of Baron d'Holbach, where the most celebrated infidels of the century used to assemble, the conversation turned fieely, and in thie most amusing manner, on the supposed absurdities, stupidities, and all kind of inconsistencies, of the Sacred Scriptures. The philosopher Diderot, who had taken no small part in the conversation, brought it suddenly to a close by the following remark:--

    "For a wonder, gentlemen, for a wonder, I know nobody, either in France or anywhere else, who could write and speak with more art and talent. Notwithstanding all the bad which we have said, and no doubt with good reason, of this devil of a book (de ce diable de livre), I defy you all--as many as are here to prepare a tale so simple, and at the same time so sublime and so touching, as the tale of the passion and death of Jesus Christ; which produces the same effect, which makes a sensation as strong and as generally felt, and whose influence will be the same, after so many centuries"

    This unexpected speech astonished all the hearers, and was followed by a pretty long silence.

    Schaff discusses Denis Diderot here


Drummond, James (1835-1918) -- Unitarian.
  • An Inquiry into the character and authorship of the Fourth Gospel.

    "The supposition may have been suggested by the attestation in the Gospel itself, "We know that his testimony is true,"1 which seems to imply the sanction of an eye-witness of the events recorded, and Andrew may have been selected, as Mr Tayler supposes, because he is mentioned in the Gospel as "the first who became a disciple after the recognition of Jesus by John the Baptist."2 The inference from these facta may have been assisted by a desire to confirm the authority of the Gospel against the attacks of the Alogi. In regard to the third argument, we must observe that the Epistle is used to prove, not that the reputed author of the Gospel was an eye-witness of the circumstances which he relates, but that the author of the Epistle professes to have written an account of these circumstances, and so guarantees the genuineness of the Gospel. We need therefore have no hesitation in regarding the fragment as a testimony that the Gospel was believed to be the work of John the apostle. --p. 79.

    1 xxi. 24.
    2 Theological Review, July 1869, p. 341.
    ... "In the last quarter of the second century, and subsequently, if we except the shadowy Alogi, the Gospel was universally, and without hesitation, received as the work of the Apostle John, who composed it at Ephesus in his old age, after the publication of the other Gospels. This, then, is the view, which, following a well-established rule in literary questions, we are to accept, unless adequate reason can be shown for not doing so.--p. 79.

    ... "Of course, I do not say that this is conclusive, for there may be an explanation which it is no longer possible to discover; but I do say that the argument is a real and strong one, and that those who can see nothing in it, simply show that they are uncritical, and unable to estimate the force of evidence."

    ... "We have now gone carefully through the arguments against the reputed authorship of the Gospel, and on the whole have found them wanting. ... "The external evidence (be it said with all due respect to the Alogi) is all on one side, and for my part I cannot readily repel its force. A considerable mass of internal evidence is in harmony with the external. A number of the difficulties which have been pressed against the conclusion thus indicated, melt away on nearer examination, and those which remain are not sufficient to weigh down the balance. In literary questions we cannot look for demonstration, and where opinion is so much divided, we must feel some uncertainty in our conclusions; but on weighing the arguments for and against to the best of my power, I must give my own judgment in favour of the Johannine authorship."--p. 514.


Durant, William James (November 5, 1885 – November 7, 1981)-- Secular historian.
  • Caesar and Christ: In The Story of Civilization series, Vol.3. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1944.

    The Christian evidence for Christ begins with the letters ascribed to Saint Paul. Some of these are of uncertain authorship; several, antedating A.D. 64, are almost universally accounted as substantially genuine. No one has questioned the existence of Paul, or his repeated meetings with Peter, James, and John; and Paul enviously admits that these men had known Christ in his flesh. The accepted epistles frequently refer to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion....

    The contradictions are of minutiae, not substance; in essentials the synoptic gospels agree remarkably well, and form a consistent portrait of Christ. In the enthusiasm of its discoveries the Higher Criticism has applied to the New Testament tests of authenticity so severe that by them a hundred ancient worthies – e.g., Hammurabi, David, Socrates – would fade into legend. Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelists, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed- the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus' arrest, Peter's denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the references of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confessions of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of the life, character, and teaching of Christ, remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature in the history of Western man.


Grant, Michael, CBE (November 21, 1914 – October 4, 2004) -- A Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh University, and President and Vice Chancellor of the Queens University, Belfast.
    Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (New York: Charles Schribner's Sons, 1977), p. 176.

    "But if we apply the same sort of criteria that we would apply to any other ancient literary sources, then the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty."

    Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (New York: Charles Schribner's Sons, 1977), pp. 190-191.

    "For by conquering the Roman Empire in the fourth century A.D., Christianity had conquered the entire Western World, for century after century that lay ahead. In a triumph that has been hailed by its advocates as miraculous, and must be regarded by historians, too, as one of the most astonishing phenomena in the history of the world, the despised, reviled Galilean became the Lord of countless millions of people over the course of the 1900 years and more between his age and ours."


Habermas, Jürgen (Born June 18, 1929) -- German sociologist. Professor of Philosophy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt.
  • Time of Transitions. Polity (March 22, 2006).

    Pages 150-151: "As it happens, however, cultural and social modernization did not begin in the regions dominated by Buddhism. For, in the West, Christianity not only fulfilled the initial cognitive conditions for modern structures of consciousness; it also fostered a range of motivations that formed the major theme of the economic and ethical research of Max Weber. Christianity has functioned for the normative self-understanding of modernity as more than a mere precursor or a catalyst. Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights, and democracy, is the direct heir to the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk."


Huxley, Thomas Henry (May 4, 1825 – June 29, 1895) -- Biologist. Advocate of Darwinism. Coined the term, "Agnostic"
  • Science and Education The School Boards: What They Can Do, And What They May Do. Extracted in Contemporary Review, December 1870. (Also from Critiques and Addresses, p. 51.)

    Page 398: "I have always been strongly in favour of secular education, in the sense of education without theology; but I must confess I have been no less seriously perplexed to know by what practical measures the religious feeling, which is the essential basis of conduct, was to be kept up, in the present utterly chaotic state of opinion on these matters, without the use of the Bible. The Pagan moralists lack life and colour, and even the noble Stoic, Marcus Antonius, is too high and refined for an ordinary child. Take the Bible as a whole; make the severest deductions which fair criticism can dictate for shortcomings and positive errors; eliminate, as a sensible lay-teacher would do, if left to himself, all that it is not desirable for children to occupy themselves with; and there still remains in this old literature a vast residuum of moral beauty and grandeur. And then consider the great historical fact that, for three centuries, this book has been woven into the life of all that is best and noblest in English history; that it has become the national epic of Britain, and is as familiar to noble and simple, from John-o'-Groat's House to Land's End, as Dante and Tasso once were to the Italians; that it is written in the noblest and purest English, and abounds in exquisite beauties of mere literary form; and, finally, that it forbids the veriest hind who never left his village to be ignorant of the existence of other countries and other civilisations, and of a great past, stretching back to the furthest limits of the oldest nations in the world. By the study of what other book could children be so much humanized and made to feel that each figure in that vast historical procession fills, like themselves, but a momentary space in the interval between two eternities; and earns the blessings or the curses of all time, according to its effort to do good and hate evil, even as they also are earning their payment for their work?"

  • Essays Upon Controverted Questions.

    Page 39: "The Bible has been the Magna Charta of the poor and of the oppressed; down to modern times, no state has had a constitution in which the interests of the people are so largely taken into account, in which the duties, so much more than the privileges, of rulers are insisted upon, as that drawn up for Israel in Deuteronomy and in Leviticus; nowhere is the fundamental truth that the welfare of the state, in the long run, depends on the uprightness of the citizen, so strongly laid down. Assuredly, the Bible talks no trash about the rights of man; but it insists on the equality of duties, on the liberty to bring about that righteousness which is somewhat different from struggling for 'rights;' on the fraternity of taking thought for one's neighbor as for one's self." Page 40: "So far as such equality, liberty, and fraternity are included under the democratic principles which assume the same names, the Bible is the most democratic book in the world."

    " . . . I do believe that the human race is not yet, possibly may never be, in a position to dispense with it."

    Statements in bold quoted by President Theodore Roosevelt, "The Bible and the Life of the People," Realizable Ideals (The Earl Lectures). San Francisco: 1912. Reprinted in The Works of Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Edition, Vol 15. New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1923-26, pp. 606-616.


Jefferson, President Thomas (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) -- Unitarian. U. S. Founding Father.
  • Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803, with Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus , with Copies; Partial Transcription Available here. "The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827", Library of Congress. The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes. Federal Edition. Collected and Edited by Paul Leicester Ford.

    "Dear Sir, In some of the delightful conversations with you, in the evenings of 1798-99, and which served as an anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our country was then laboring, the Christian religion was sometimes our topic; and I then promised you, that one day or other, I would give you my views of it. They are the result of a life of inquiry & reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others."

  • "First Inaugural Address" (March 4, 1801).

    Friends and Fellow Citizens:

    ... Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter -- with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens -- a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

    ... Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choice it is in your power to make. And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.

  • "Second Inaugural Address" (March 4, 1805).

    ...In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of state or church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.

    ...I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow citizens have again called me, and shall proceed in the spirit of those principles which they have approved. I fear not that any motives of interest may lead me astray; I am sensible of no passion which could seduce me knowingly from the path of justice; but the weakness of human nature, and the limits of my own understanding, will produce errors of judgment sometimes injurious to your interests. I shall need, therefore, all the indulgence I have heretofore experienced -- the want of it will certainly not lessen with increasing years. I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, and our riper years with his wisdom and power; and to whose goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do, shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.

  • Henry S. Randall. The Life of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1. New York: Derby and Jackson, 1858. Preface and Chapter 12: 1787.

  • Henry S. Randall. The Life of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 3. New York: Derby and Jackson, 1858. Chapter 14: 1826-1848. This chapter documents Jefferson's views on religion.


Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37 – sometime after A.D. 100) – First century Jewish historian
  • FROM THE "ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS," BOOK XVIII. CH. III. SECT. III. Source (with portions regarded as interpolations edited -- see here)

    About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if it be proper to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Greeks. And when Pilate, at the instigation of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him at first did not forsake him. And the sect of Christians, so named after him, are not extinct to this day.

  • Schaff's commentary on Flavius Josephus can be found here
  • See also: The Apologeticks of the learned Athenian philosopher Athenagoras. I. For the Christian religion. II. For the truth of the Resurrection. Against the scepticks and infidels of that age. Together with a curious fragment of Justin Martyr; And two other fragments: the one attributed to Josephus: the other to Methodius; Done into English, with notes. To which are prefix'd two dissertations by David Humphreys, ... London, 1714.
  • Vindiciæ Flavianæ: or, a vindication of the testimony given by Josephus concerning Our Saviour Jesus Christ. By Jacob Bryant, Esq. The second edition. London, 1780. 86pp.
  • Vindication of the Sacred Books and of Josephus by Robert Findlay
  • Nathaniel Lardner on Josephus

Judas, the Traitor (1st century A.D.) – Disciple of Jesus Christ
  • Matthew 27:3-4 (KJV) Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again [brought back] the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying: I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.
  • Schaff's commentary on Judas, the Traitor can be found here.

Julian the Apostate (331–June 26, 363) – Last pagan Roman Emperor
  • From CYRILLUS ALEX. Contra Julian, lib. vi. p. 191. "Jesus, having persuaded a few among you [Schaff: Galileans, as he contemptously called the Christians], and those of the worst of men, has now been celebrated about three hundred years; having done nothing in his lifetime worthy of fame, unless any one thinks it a very great work to heal lame and blind people and exorcise demoniacs in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany."

    Schaff writes here: "Julian the Apostate, Roman emperor from 361 to 363, the most gifted and most bitter of all the ancient assailants of Christianity, endeavored, with the whole combined influence of his station, talent, and example, to restore idolatry throughout the Roman Empire, but in vain. His reign passed away like the "baseless fabric of a vision, leaving no wreck behind," save the important lesson that ancient paganism was hopelessly extinct, and that no human power can arrest the triumphant march of Christianity. (For a fuller account of Julian and his reign, see the author's "Church History," vol. ii. (now in course of publication), p. 39 ff., and p. 75 ff."


Lecky, William E. H. (Edward Hartpole) (March 26, 1838 - Oct. 22, 1903) -- Irish historian. Author of History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe. )
  • History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne. Volume 2.

    Page 9: "It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal character, which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has not been only the highest pattern of virtue, but also the strongest incentive to its practice; and has exercised so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortions of moralists."


Lecky, W. E. / Lecky, William Edward Hartpole (March 26, 1838 - October 22, 1903) – Irish secular historian
  • History of European morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, volume 2, Longmans, Green, and Company, 1869, p. 9. Online Library of Liberty.

    "It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal character, which, through all the changes of eighteen centuries, has filled the hearts of men with an impassioned love, and has shown itself capable of acting in all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the highest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers, and than all the exhortations of moralists. This has, indeed, been the wellspring of whatever has been best and purest in the Christian life. Amid all the sins and failings, amid all the priestcraft, the persecution and fanaticism which have defaced the Church, it has preserved, in the character and example of its Founder, an enduring principle of regeneration."

  • History of the rise and influence of the spirit of rationalism in Europe, Online Library of Liberty. D. Appleton, 1919.

    "It was in this manner that the old civilisation, which rested on conquest and on slavery, had passed into complete dissolution, the free classes being altogether demoralised, and the slave classes exposed to the most horrible cruelties. At last the spirit of Christianity moved over this chaotic society, and not merely alleviated the evils that convulsed it, but also reorganised it on a new basis. It did this in three ways; it abolished slavery, it created charity, it inculcated self-sacrifice."

    ... "But when the fullest allowance has been made for these influences, it will remain an undoubted fact that the reconstruction of society was mainly the work of Christianity. Other influences could produce the manumission of many slaves, but Christianity alone could effect the profound change of character that rendered possible the abolition of slavery."


Lowell, James Russell (February 22, 1819 - August 12, 1891) – U.S. Minister to Great Britain, Poet, Editor, Critic, Unitarian
  • Sir Oliver Mowat. Christianity, and Some of Its Evidences: An Address.

    From the Rev. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: "The first [note] is from the American poet and man of letters, James Russell Lowell, lately U.S. Minister to Great Britain. If not a scientific man, yet his high reputation as a gentleman of high and broad culture, and of extensive opportunities of observation, will make his words to have weight with many. On a certain public occasion in England several persons had expressed themselves in a contemptuous way regarding Christianity, when Mr. Lowell, in his speech, said:

    "When the microscopic search of scepticism has turned its attention to human society, and found a spot on this planet ten miles square where a decent man can live in decency, comfort, and security, supporting and educating his children unspoiled and unpolluted, manhood respected, womanhood honored, and human life held in due regard --when skeptics can find such a place, ten miles square, on this globe, where the Gospel of Christ has not gone and cleared the way, and laid the foundations, and made decency and security possible, it will then be in order for the sceptical literati to move thither, and there ventilate their views."


Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis) (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956) -- Journalist. Critic. Editor of American Mercury
  • Treatise on the gods. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930.

    Page 227: "The historicity of Jesus is no longer questioned seriously by anyone, whether Christian or unbeliever. The main facts about Him seem to be beyond dispute."

    Page 255: "It is not easy to account for His singular and stupendous success. How did it come about that One who, in His life, had only the bitter cup of contumely to drink, should lift it Himself, in death, to such vast esteem and circumstance, such incomparable and world-shaking power and renown?' "

    Pages 265 and 266:

    "Unless the whole New Testament is to be rejected as moonshine, it seems to be certain that many persons saw Him after His supposed death on the cross, including not a few who were violently disinclined to believe in His resurrection. Matthew tells us, indeed, that even His arch enemies, the chief priests, were forced to admit the fact of His appearnce, and that they sought to account for it, going back to their warning to Pilate, by saying that 'his disciples came by night, and stole him away.'

    ". . . Upon that theory . . . the most civilized section of the human race has erected a strange structure of ideas and practices so vast in scope and so powerful in effect that the whole range of history showeth nothing parallel."

    Pages 345, 346, and 347:

    "The Bible is unquestionably the most beautiful book in the world."

    "Allow everything you please, . . . no other literature, old or new, can offer a match for it.

    "Nearly all of it comes from the Jews, and their making of it constitutes one of the most astounding phenomena in human history. For there is little in their character, as the modern world knows them, to suggest a talent for noble thinking. . . .

    "... Yet these same Jews, from time immemorial, have been the chief dreamers of that race, and beyond all comparison, its greatest poets. It was Jews who wrote the magnificent poems called the Psalms, the Song of Solomon, and the books of Job and Ruth; it was Jews who set platitudes to deathless music in Proverbs; and it was Jews who gave us the beatitudes, the sermon on the mount, the incomparable ballad of the Christ Child, and the twelfth chapter of Romans.

    "I incline to believe that the scene recounted in John 8:3-11 is the most poignant drama ever written in the world, as the Song of Solomon is unquestionably the most moving love song, and the Twenty-third Psalm the greatest of hymns.

    "All these transcendent riches Christianity inherits from a tribe of sedentary Bedouins, so obscure and unimportant that secular history scarcely knows them. No heritage of modern man is richer and none has made a more brilliant mark upon human thought, not even the legacy of the Greeks. . . .

    "The story of Jesus, as it is told in the Synoptic Gospels, and especially in Luke, is touching beyond compare.

    "... Beside it the best that you will find in sacred literature of Moslem and Brahman, Parsee and Buddhist, seems flat, stale, and unprofitable."


Mill, John Stuart (May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873) -- English economist. Philosopher. Member of Parliament.
  • Three Essays on Religion: Nature, the Utility of Religion, Theism.

    Pages 253-255: "Christ is still left; a unique figure, not more unlike all His precursors than all His followers, even those who had the direct benefit of His personal teaching. It is of no use to say that Christ as exhibited in the Gospels is not historical, and that we know not how much of what is admirable has been super-added by the tradition of His followers. . . . Who among His disciples, or among their proselytes, was capable of inventing the sayings ascribed to Jesus, or of imagining the life and character in the Gospels? Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee; as certainly not St. Paul, whose character and idiosyncrasies were of a totally different sort; still less the early Christian writers. . . .

    "When this pre-eminent genius is combined with the qualities of probably the greatest moral reformer, and martyr to that mission, who ever existed upon earth, religion cannot be said to have made a bad choice in pitching on this Man as the ideal representative and guide to humanity; nor, even now, would it be easy, even for an unbeliever, to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the concrete, than to endeavour so to live that Christ would approve our life."


Noah, Mordecai Manuel (July 14, 1785 - May 22, 1851) -- Jewish American playwright, diplomat (Consul at Tunis), and journalist
  • Travels in England, France, Spain, and the Barbary States: in the years 1813-14 and 15. Kirk and Mercein, 1819. 431 pp.

    "Unwilling to risk a tedious passage down the Mediterranean at this season of the year, I determined to cross the country and take shipping at Bordeaux, and after a lew days residence, I left Marseilles, and passed through Nismes, Montpelier and Narbonne. It is impossible to conceive the satisfaction which is felt from a change of residence, such as I had experienced. Living something less than a year in Barbary, witnessing carnage and revolution, a daily spectator to intrigue, cruelty and despotism, with few friends, with no sources of amusement, no family, isolated and banished from civilization-- even with an ample salary, and the grateful protection of country, neither of which were mine, my situation was deplorable indeed; and had I been recalled in a manner more suitable to my character and rights, I should have left that wretched country with pleasure: as it was, still I hailed the change with satisfaction. I was once more among enlightened men, once more in civilized society. I saw no longer the turban of the suspicious and sanguinary Turk: I no longer grasped the handle of my stiletto, or carried arms in my defence. I could breathe freely, speak freely, I no longer viewed my fellow men with distrust, and I thanked God that I was in a Christian land." p. 404.


O'Neill, Tim (Fl. 21st century) -- Internet skeptic [
  • The Dark Age Myth: An Atheist Reviews “God’s Philosophers”.

    One of the occupational hazards of being an atheist and secular humanist who hangs around on discussion boards is to encounter a staggering level of historical illiteracy. I like to console myself that many of the people on such boards have come to their atheism via the study of science and so, even if they are quite learned in things like geology and biology, usually have a grasp of history stunted at about high school level. I generally do this because the alternative is to admit that the average person's grasp of history and how history is studied is so utterly feeble as to be totally depressing. ...

    About once every 3-4 months on forums like RichardDawkins.net we get some discussion where someone invokes the old "Conflict Thesis". That evolves into the usual ritual kicking of the Middle Ages as a benighted intellectual wasteland where humanity was shackled to superstition and oppressed by cackling minions of the Evil Old Catholic Church. The hoary standards are brought out on cue. Giordiano Bruno is presented as a wise and noble martyr for science instead of the irritating mystical New Age kook he actually was. Hypatia is presented as another such martyr and the mythical Christian destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria is spoken of in hushed tones, despite both these ideas being totally untrue. The Galileo Affair is ushered in as evidence of a brave scientist standing up to the unscientific obscurantism of the Church, despite that case being as much about science as it was about Scripture.

    And, almost without fail, someone digs up a graphic (see below), which I have come to dub "The Most Wrong Thing On the Internet Ever", and to flourish it triumphantly as though it is proof of something other than the fact that most people are utterly ignorant of history and unable to see that something called "Scientific Advancement" can't be measured, let alone plotted on a graph.

    It's not hard to kick this nonsense to pieces, especially since the people presenting it know next to nothing about history and have simply picked up these strange ideas from websites and popular books. The assertions collapse as soon as you hit them with hard evidence. I love to totally stump these propagators by asking them to present me with the name of one - just one - scientist burned, persecuted, or oppressed for their science in the Middle Ages. They always fail to come up with any. They usually try to crowbar Galileo back into the Middle Ages, which is amusing considering he was a contemporary of Descartes. When asked why they have failed to produce any such scientists given the Church was apparently so busily oppressing them, they often resort to claiming that the Evil Old Church did such a good job of oppression that everyone was too scared to practice science. By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists - like Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa - and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents usually scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong.


Paine, Thomas (January 29, 1737 – June 8, 1809) -- Deist. U.S. Founding Father [
  • The Study of God. Delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, in a Discourse to the Society of Theophilanthropists.

    "It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.

    "When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them form the Being who is the author of them. . . .

    "The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of His existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal."

  • Thomas Paine Criticizes the Current Public School Science Curriculum. Introduction by David Barton: "This piece was written in 1797, yet has immediate application today. Although Paine was a deist, he fails to fit neatly into the irreligious category, which is the usual portrayal."
  • Chapter 3. Concerning The Character Of Jesus Christ, And His History. Extract from The Age of Reason:

    "NOTHING that is here said can apply, even with the most distant disrespect, to the real character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and an amiable man. The morality that he preached and practised was of the most benevolent kind; and though similar systems of morality had been preached by Confucius, and by some of the Greek philosophers, many years before, by the Quakers since, and by many good men in all ages, it has not been exceeded by any.

    ... "That such a person as Jesus Christ existed, and that he was crucified, which was the mode of execution at that day, are historical relations strictly within the limits of probability. He preached most excellent morality, and the equality of man; but he preached also against the corruptions and avarice of the Jewish priests, and this brought upon him the hatred and vengeance of the whole order of priesthood. The accusation which those priests brought against him was that of sedition and conspiracy against the Roman government, to which the Jews were then subject and tributary; and it is not improbable that the Roman government might have some secret apprehension of the effects of his doctrine as well as the Jewish priests; neither is it improbable that Jesus Christ had in contemplation the delivery of the Jewish nation from the bondage of the Romans. Between the two, however, this virtuous reformer and revolutionist lost his life."

    • See here for Paine relief.

Parker, Theodore (1810-1860) – Unitarian minister. Abolitionist. Advocate for suffrage
  • From "A Discourse of Matters pertaining to Religion." Third ed. Boston, 1847, p. 275 ff.

    In estimating the character of Jesus, it must be remembered that he died at an age when man has not reached his fullest vigor. The great works of creative intellect, the maturest products of man, all the deep and settled plans of reforming the world, come from a period when experience gives a wider field as the basis of hope. Socrates was but an embryo sage till long after the age of Jesus: poems, and philosophies that live, come at a later date. Now, here we see a young man, but little more than thirty years old, with no advantage of position; the son and companion of rude people; born in a town whose inhabitants were wicked to a proverb; of a nation, above all others, distinguished for their superstition, for national pride, exaltation of themselves, and contempt for all others; in an age of singular corruption, when the substance of religion had faded out from the mind of its anointed ministers, and sin had spread wide among a people turbulent, oppressed, and down-trodden. A man ridiculed for his lack of knowledge, in this nation of forms, of hypocritical priests, and corrupt people, falls back on simple morality, simple religion; unites in himself the sublimest precepts and divinest practices, thus more than realizing the dream of prophets and sages; rises free from all prejudice of his age, nation, or sect; gives free range to the Spirit of God in his breast; sets aside the law, sacred and time-honored as it was, its forms, its sacrifice, its temple, and its priests; puts away the doctors of the law, subtle, learned, irrefragable, and pours out a doctrine beautiful as the light, sublime as heaven, and true as God. The philosophers, the poets, the prophets, the Rabbis,--he rises above them all. Yet Nazareth was no Athens, where philosophy breathed in the circumambient air: it had neither Porch nor Lyceum; not even a school of the prophets. There is God in the heart of this youth. (p. 278, 279.)

    That mightiest heart that ever beat, stirred by the Spirit of God, how it wrought in his bosom! What words of rebuke, of comfort, counsel, admonition, promise, hope, did he pour out! words that stir the soul as summer dews call up the faint and sickly grass. What profound instruction in his proverbs and discourses! what wisdom in his homely sayings, so rich with Jewish life! what deep divinity of soul in his prayers, his action, sympathy, resignation!" (p. 281.)

    Try him as we try other teachers. They deliver their word; find a few waiting for the consolation, who accept the new tidings,- follow the new method, and soon go beyond their teacher, though less mighty minds than he. Such is the case with each founder of a school of philosophy, each sect in religion. Though humble men, we see what Socrates and Luther never saw. But eighteen centuries have passed since the tide of humanity rose so high in Jesus: what man, what sect, what church, has mastered his thought, comprehended his method, and so fully applied it to life? Let the world answer in its cry of anguish. Men have parted his raiment among them, cast lots for his seamless coat; but that spirit which toiled so manfully in a world of sin and death, which died and suffered and overcame the world,--is that found, possessed, understood? Nay, is it sought for and recommended by any of our churches?" (p. 287.)

  • Schaff discusses Theodore Parker here

Perry, Matthew (Born August 7, 1949) -- English journalist
  • As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God. The Times, Posted December 27, 2008.

    Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

    It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

    Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

    I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

    But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.


Pécaut, Félix (1828 – July 31,1898) – French educationalist
  • Schaff: Notwithstanding this studied attempt to disprove the sinless perfection of Christ, [Pacaut] feels constrained to make the following remarkable concession (p. 245-247), as quoted in the Dutch work of Dr. van Oosterzee of Utrecht, on the "Person of Christ:"--

    To what height does the character of Jesus Christ rise above the most sublime and yet ever imperfect types of antiquity! What man ever knew to offer a more manly resistance to evil? Who endured vexation and contradiction better than he? Where is such a development of moral power united with less severity? Was there ever one seen who made himself heard with such royal authority? And yet no one ever was so gentle, so humble and kind, as he. What cordial sympathy at the sight of misery, and the spiritual need of his brethren! and yet, even when his countenance is moistened by tears, it continues to shine in indestructible peace. In his spirit, he lives in the house of his heavenly Father. He never loses sight of the invisible world; and, at the same time, reveals a moral and practical sense possessed by no son of the dust. Which is more wonderful,--the nobility of his princely greatness spread over his person, or the inimitable simplicity which surrounds his whole appearance? Pascal had seen this heavenly form when describing it in a manner worthy of the object: Jesus Christ has been humble and patient; holy, holy, holy before God; terrible to devils; without any sin. In what great brilliancy and wonderful magnificence he appears to the eye of the spirit which is open to wisdom! To shine forth in all his princely splendor of his holiness, it was not necessary that he should appear as a king; and yet he came with all the splendor of his standing. He was the master of all, because he is really their brother. His moral life is wholly penetrated by God. He represents virtue to me under the form of love and obedience. In our part, we do more than esteem him: we offer him love.

    Check out Schaff's comments on F. Pecaut here


Pliny the Younger (63 - ca. 113) aka Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus – Roman philosopher, lawyer, author
  • The Letters of Pliny the Younger by the Younger Pliny

    To THE EMPEROR TRAJAN:

    IT is my invariable rule, Sir, to refer to you in all matters where I feel doubtful; for who is more capable of removing my scruples, or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials concerning those who profess Christianity, I am unacquainted not only with the nature of their crimes, or the measure of their punishment, but how far it is proper to enter into an examination concerning them. Whether, therefore, any difference is usually made with respect to ages, or no distinction is to be observed between the young and the adult; whether repentance entitles them to a pardon; or if a man has been once a Christian, it avails nothing to desist from his error; whether the very profession of Christianity, unattended with any criminal act, or only the crimes themselves inherent in the profession are punishable; on all these points I am in great doubt. In the meanwhile, the method I have observed towards those who have been brought before me as Christians is this: I asked them whether they were Christians; if they admitted it, I repeated the question twice, and threatened them with punishment; if they persisted, I ordered them to be at once punished: for I was persuaded, whatever the nature of their opinions might be, a contumacious and inflexible obstinacy certainly deserved correction. There were others also brought before me possessed with the same infatuation, but being Roman citizens, I directed them to be sent to Rome. But this crime spreading (as is usually the case) while it was actually under prosecution, several instances of the same nature occurred. An anonymous information was laid before me containing a charge against several persons, who upon examination denied they were Christians, or had ever been so. They repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered religious rites with wine and incense before your statue (which for that purpose I had ordered to be brought, together with those of the gods), and even reviled the name of Christ: whereas there is no forcing, it is said, those who are really Christians into any of these compliances: I thought it proper, therefore, to discharge them. Some among those who were accused by a witness in person at first confessed themselves Christians, but immediately after denied it; the rest owned indeed that they had been of that number formerly, but had now (some above three, others more, and a few above twenty years ago) renounced that error. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, uttering imprecations at the same time against the name of Christ. They affirmed the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal. From this custom, however, they desisted after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your commands, I forbade the meeting of any assemblies. After receiving this account, I judged it so much the more necessary to endeavor to extort the real truth, by putting two female slaves to the torture, who were said to officiate' in their religious rites: but all I could discover was evidence of an absurd and extravagant superstition. I deemed it expedient, therefore, to adjourn all further proceedings, in order to consult you. For it appears to be a matter highly deserving your consideration, more especially as great numbers must be involved in the danger of these prosecutions, which have already extended, and are still likely to extend, to persons of all ranks and ages, and even of both sexes. In fact, this contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread its infection among the neighbouring villages and country. Nevertheless, it still seems possible to restrain its progress. The temples, at least, which were once almost deserted, begin now to be frequented; and the sacred rites, after a long intermission, are again revived; while there is a general demand for the victims, which till lately found very few purchasers. From all this it is easy to conjecture what numbers might be reclaimed if a general pardon were granted to those who shall repent of their error."

  • Schaff comments here:

    Pliny the Younger, a contemporary and friend of Tacitus and the Emperor Trajan, in his famous letter to Trajan, about 107, bears testimony to the rapid spread of Christianity in Asia Minor at that time among all ranks of society; the general moral purity and steadfastness of its professors amid cruel persecution; their mode and time of worship; their adoration of Christ as God; their observance of a "stated day," which is undoubtedly Sunday; and other facts of importance in the early history of the Church. Trajan's rescript, in reply to Pliny's inquiry, furnishes evidence of the innocence of the Christians. He notices no charge against them except their disregard of the worship of the gods, and forbids them to be sought after.


Pontius Pilate (1st century A.D.) – Governor of Judea, and his wife
  • Matthew 27: 17-25 (KJV) 17Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

    Luke 23:3-22 (KJV) 3And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. 4Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. 5And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. 6When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 7And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. 8And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. 9Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 11And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. 13And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. 16I will therefore chastise him, and release him. 17(For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) 18And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: 19(Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) 20Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. 21But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. 22And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

  • Read Schaff's commentary, "Pontius Pilate and His Wife," here.

Porphyry / Porphyrios (c.232/4-c.305) – Greek philosopher
  • In his work on the "Philosophy of Oracles," Porphyry says of Christ, as quoted by St. Augustine ("De Civitate Dei," l. xix. cap. 23; comp. also Eusebius' "Demonst. Evang.," iii. 6):-- "The oracle declared Christ to be a most pious man, and his soul, like the soul of other pious men after death, favored with immortality; and that the mistaken Christians worship him. And when we asked, Why, then, was he condemned? the goddess (Hecate) answered in the oracle: The body indeed is ever liable to debilitating torments; but the soul of the pious dwells in the heavenly mansion. But that soul has fatally been the occasion to many other souls to be involved in error, to whom it has not been given to acknowledge the immortal Jove. But himself is pious, and gone to heaven as other pious men do. Him, therefore, thou shalt not blaspheme; but pity the folly of men, because of the danger they are in."

    Schaff discusses Porphyry here


Renan, Ernest (February 28, 1823–October 12, 1892) – French philosopher

    From the Vie de Jésus, par E. Renan, membre de l'Institut. Septième édition. Paris, 1864. English translation by Charles Edwin Wilbour, translator of Les Miserables. New York, 1864. (On Renan and his book, compare the preceding Essay, p. 176 ff.)

    It is probable that, from the very first, he looked to God in the relation of a son to a father. This is his great act of originality: in this he is in no wise of his race. (En cela il n'est nullement de sa race.) Neither the Jew nor the Moslem has learned this delightful theology of love. The God of Jesus is not the hateful master who kills us when he pleases, damns us when he pleases, saves us when he pleases. The God of Jesus is our Father. We hear him when we listen to a low whisper within us, which says, 'Father.' The God of Jesus is not the partial despot, 353who has chosen Israel for his people, and protects it in the face of all and against all. He is the God of humanity.

    Page 106. (56, chap. v.)

    It can not be denied, that the maxims borrowed [?] by Jesus from his predecessors produce, in the gospel, an effect totally different from that in the ancient law, in the Pirke Aboth (a collection of sentences and maxims of ancient Jewish rabbis)or in the Talmud. It is not the ancient law, it is not the Talmud, which has conquered and changed the world. Little original in itself--if by that is meant that it can be recomposed almost entirely [?] with more ancient maxims,--the evangelical morality remains none the less the highest creation which has emanated from the human conscience, the most beautiful code of perfect life that any moralist has traced. (La plus haute création qui soit sortie de la conscience humaine, le plus beau code de la vie parfaite qu'aucun moraliste ait tracé.)

    Page 110. (p. 61, chap. v.)

    The gospel has been the supreme remedy for the sorrows of common life; a perpetual sursum corda; a mighty distraction from the wretched cares of earth; a sweet appeal, like that of Jesus to the ear of Martha: 'Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful.' Thanks to Jesus, the most spiritless existence, that most absorbed in sad or humiliating duties, has had its glimpse of heaven! In our bustling civilization, the memory of the free life of Galilee has been like the perfume of another world; like a 'dew of Hermon,' which has prevented sterility and vulgarity from completely usurping the field of God.

    Page 175. (p. 127, chap. x.)

    Christ, for the first time, gave utterance to the idea upon which shall rest the edifice of the everlasting religion. He founded the pure worship--of no age, of no clime--which shall be that of all lofty souls to the end of time. . . . If other planets have inhabitants endowed with reason and morality, their religion can not be different from that which Jesus proclaimed at Jacob's well. Man has not been able to abide by this worship [in spirit and in truth]: we attain the ideal only for a moment. The words of Jesus were a gleam in thick night: it has taken eighteen hundred years for the eyes of humanity (what do I say I of an infinitely small portion of humanity) to learn to abide by it. But the gleam shall become the full day; and, after passing through all the circles of error, humanity will return to these words, as to the immortal expression of its faith and its hopes. (L'humanité reviendra a ce mot-là [John iv. 23], comme d l'expression immortelle de sa foi et de ses espérances.)

    Page 215. (p. 168, chap. xiv.)

    Repose now in thy glory, noble founder! Thy work is finished; thy divinity is established. Fear no more to see the edifice of thy labors fall by any fault. Henceforth, beyond the reach of frailty, thou shalt witness, from the hights of divine peace, the infinite results of thy acts. At the price of a few hours of suffering, which did not even reach thy grand soul, thou hast bought the most complete immortality. For thousands of years, the world will defend thee! Banner of our contests, thou shalt be the standard about which the hottest battle will be given. A thousand times more alive, a thousand times more beloved since thy death, than during thy passage here below, thou shalt become the corner-stone of humanity so entirely, that to tear thy name from this world would be to rend it to its foundations. Between thee and God there will be no longer any distinction. (Entre toi et Dieu on ne distinguera plus.) Complete conqueror of death, take possession of thy kingdom; whither shall follow thee, by the royal road which thou hast traced, ages of worshipers (des siècles d'adorateurs).

    Page 351. (p. 303, close of chap. xxv.)

    Whatever may be the surprises of the future, Jesus will never be surpassed. His worship will grow young without ceasing; his legend will call forth tears without end; his sufferings will melt the noblest hearts; all ages will proclaim, that, among the sons of men, there is none born greater than Jesus. (Quels que puissent être les phénomènes inattendus de l'avenir, Jésus ne sera pas surpassé. Son culte se rajeunira sans cesse; sa légende provoquera des larmes sans fin; ses souffrances attendriront les meilleurs cœurs: tous les siècles proclameront qu'entre les fils des hommes, il n'en est pas né de plus grand que Jésus.)

    Page 376. (p. 325, end of the xxviii. and last chap.)

    More praise by Ernest Renan can be found here.

    From The Apostles, New York: Carleton, 1875, p. 227:

    "As to the Greek and Latin writers, it is not surprising that they paid little attention to a movement which they could not comprehend, and which was going on within a narrow space foreign to them. Christianity was lost to their vision upon the dark background of Judaism. It was only a family quarrel amongst the subjects of a degraded nation; why trouble themselves about it? The two or three passages in which Tacitus and Suetonius mention the Christians show that the new sect, even if generally beyond the visual circle of full publicity, was, notwithstanding, a prominent fact, since we are enabled at intervals to catch a glimpse of it defining itself with considerable clearness of outline through the mist of public inattention."


Romanes, George (May 19, 1848 – May 23, 1894) -- Biologist. Advocate of evolution
  • Thoughts on Religion. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Co., 1895.

    Pages 170-171: "Not only is Christianity thus so immeasurably in advance of all other religions, it is no less so of every other system of thought that has ever been promulgated, in regard to all that is moral and spiritual. Whether it be true or false, it is certain that neither philosophy, science, nor poetry has ever produced results in thought, conduct, or beauty in any degree to be compared with it."

    It is "the greatest exhibition of the beautiful, the sublime, and of all else that appeals to our spiritual nature, which has ever been known upon our earth."

    "What has all the science or all the philosophy of the world done for the thought of mankind to be compared with the one doctrine, 'God is love'?"

    See also

  • Dr. Timothy McGrew. A Pilgrim's Regress: George John Romanes and the Search for Rational Faith. From The Christendom Review. 2(2): 2009. Also here.

Socinus, Faustus / Sozzini, Fausto (1539-1604) -- Italian founder of the Antitrinitarian movement, "Socinianism", former Roman Catholic

Strauss, David Frederick (Jan. 27, 1808 - Feb. 8, 1874) -- German philosopher
  • From "Vergängliches und Bleibendes im Christenthum," 1838 (Freihafen, 3tes Heft, p. 47). On Strauss, and his Leben Jesu, compare p. 151 ff.

    If in Jesus the union of the self-consciousness with the consciousness of God has been real, and expressed not only in words, but actually revealed in all the conditions of his life, he represents within the religious sphere the highest point, beyond whom posterity can not go; yea, whom it can not even equal, inasmuch as every one who hereafter should climb the same bight, could only do it with the help of Jesus, who first attained it. As little as humanity will ever be without religion, as little will it be without Christ; for to have religion without Christ would be as absurd as to enjoy poetry without regard to Homer or Shakespeare. And this Christ, as far as he is inseparable from the highest style of religion, is historical, not mythical; is an individual, no mere symbol. To the historical person of Christ belongs all in his life that exhibits his religious perfection, his discourses, his moral action, and- his passion. . . . He remains the highest model of religion within the reach of our thought; and no perfect piety is possible without his presence in the heart.

  • Chronic Strauss Fatigue Syndrome discussed here

Tacitus, Publius Cornelius (ca. 56 – ca. 117) – Roman senator and historian
  • Annales, lib. xv. c. 44.

    [15.44] Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

  • Schaff remarks here

    Tacitus (who lived in the second half of the first and the first quarter of the second century), in giving an account of the Neronian persecution of the Christians at Rome, which occurred A.D. 64...

    Annales, lib. xv. c. 44. incidentally attests that Christ was put to death as a malefactor by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; that he was the founder of the Christian sect; that the latter took its rise in Judea, and spread, in spite of the ignominious death of Christ, and the hatred and contempt it encountered throughout the empire, so that a vast multitude (multitudo ingens) of them were most cruelly put to death in the city of Rome alone as early as the year 64. He also bears valuable testimony, in the fifth book of his History, together with Josephus, from whom he mainly, though not exclusively, takes his account, to the fulfillment of Christ's prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the Jewish people.


Wells, H. G. (Herbert George) (September 21, 1866 – August 13, 1946)) -- English novelist, journalist, sociologist, and historian
  • American Magazine. July 1922.

    "Jesus of Nazareth . . . is easily the dominant figure in history. I am speaking of Him, of course, as a man, for I conceive that the historian must treat Him as a man, just as the painter must paint Him as a man. . . . To assume that he never lived, that the accounts of His life are inventions, is more difficult and raises more problems in the path of the historian than to accept the essential elements of the Gospel stories as fact.

    "Of course you and I live in countries where, to millions of men and women, Jesus is more than a man. But the historian must disregard that fact; he must adhere to the evidence which would pass unchallenged if his book were to be read in every nation under the sun.' "

    "Now, it is interesting and significant - isn't it? that a historian, setting forth in that spirit, without any theological bias whatever, should find that he simply cannot portray the progress of humanity honestly without giving the foremost place to a penniless Teacher from Nazareth.

    "The old Roman historians ignored Jesus entirely; they ignored the growth and spread of His teaching, regarding it as something apart from life. . . . He left no impress on the historical records of His time. Yet, more than nineteen hundred years later, a historian like myself, who does not even call himself a Christian, finds the picture centring irresistibly around the life and character of this simple, lovable Man. . .

    "We sense the magnetism that induced men who had seen Him only once to leave their business and follow Him. He filled them with love and courage. Weak and ailing people were heartened by His presence. He spoke with a knowledge and authority that baffled the wise and subtle. . . .

    "So the historian, disregarding the theological significance of His life, writes the name of Jesus of Nazareth at the top of the world's greatest characters."


Former Skeptics

Adams, President John Quincy (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) – Sixth President of the United States
  • John Quincy Adams. Extract from Volume 6, 1916. 508 pages. Original from the University of California.
    "Now in the sermon upon the mount much is said about the kingdom of Heaven, and those who alone shall enter it. The preacher of that sermon announced himself as a being superior at least to human nature. If you say that he was a mere ordinary man, you include him also in the class of those who are not competent to dogmatize upon the system of the universe. You, or at least I, can by no possible process of reasoning consider him as a mere man, without at the same time pronouncing him an Impostor. You ask me what Bible I take as the standard of my faith? the Hebrew, the Samaritan, the old English translation, or what? I answer, the Bible containing the sermon upon the mount? any Bible that I can read and understand. The New Testament I have repeatedly read in the original Greek, in the Latin, in the Genevan protestant, and in Sacy's Catholic French translations, in Luther's German translation, in the common English protestant, and in the Douay English Catholic (Jesuitical) translations. I take any one of them for my standard of faith. If Socinus or Priestley had made a fair translation of the Bible, I would have taken that, but without their comments. I would also give up all the passages upon which any sound suspicion of interpretation can be fastened. But the sermon upon the mount commands me to lay up for myself treasures, not upon earth, but in Heaven. My hopes of a future life are all founded upon the Gospel of Christ, and I cannot cavil or quibble away, not single words and ambiguous expressions, but the whole tenor of his conduct, by which he sometimes positively asserted, and at others countenanced his disciples in asserting that he was God. You think it blasphemous to believe that the omnipotent Creator could be crucified. God is a spirit. The spirit was not crucified. The body of Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. The Spirit whether eternal or created was beyond the reach of the cross. You see my orthodoxy grows upon me, and I still unite with you in the doctrine of toleration and benevolence." pp. 134-135.

  • John Quincy Adams. Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings. (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), pp. 22-23:

    There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.

  • John Quincy Adams. Letters of John Quincy Adams, to His Son, on the Bible and Its Teachings. (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), p. 61:

    The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes adapted to that time only, and to the particular circumstances of the nation to whom it was given; they could of course be binding upon them, and only upon them, until abrogated by the same authority which enacted them, as they afterward were by the Christian dispensation: but many others were of universal application -- laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.


Adamson, Marilyn (Fl. 21st century) -- Christian author
  • How an Atheist Found God. A personal account from an atheist who was convinced no god exists, and what facts led to God.

    I tried something that I'm not sure many people do. Every few weeks, I would study a particular philosopher's take on life ...Nietzsche, Hume, Dostoevsky, Sartre, Plato, etc. and then try to apply it to my own life. I was looking for the perfect, workable philosophy for life. I found over and over, that either their philosophies seemed lacking, or were too impractical to implement. But I kept searching.

    I was challenging my friend with every question that came to mind about God. I would find myself writing out questions late in the evening. This went on for well over a year. One day she handed me a book1 that briefly answered questions like, is there a God; is Jesus God; what about the Bible. It presented facts. No comments like, "you have to believe."

    I saw some evidence for God that was solidly logical. The parts particularly convincing to me were the chemical properties of water and the earth's position to the sun. It was all too perfectly designed, too perfectly put together. My faith in "nothing behind it all" seemed weaker than the possibility of God. I had fewer reasons to be certain of nothing, and more reasons to conclude that God might be there.


Adler, Mortimer Jerome Adler (December 28, 1902 – June 28, 2001) -- American Aristotelian philosopher and author

    From How to Think about God (New York, Macmillan Press,, 1980), p. 150.

    If I am able to say no more than that a preponderance of reasons favor believing that God exists, I can still say I have advanced reasonable grounds for that belief. ... I am persuaded that God exists, either beyond a reasonable doubt or by a preponderance of reasons in favor of that conclusion over reasons against it. I am, therefore, willing to terminate this inquiry with the statement that I have reasonable grounds for affirming God's existence.

    THE GREAT IDEA OF GOD -- see here. A transcription from the original television series (1953-54) on The Great Ideas.

    I would go so far as to say that even for persons like myself with a weaker understanding of the truth of these propositions, I have some rational grounds for a certain that God exists even though I have to make a leap, a leap beyond those rational grounds to a belief. My reason carries me just so far being weak. My understanding doesn't carry me the whole way yet. My understanding and reason carry me far enough so that I'm entitled as a rational man, as a reasonable man am entitled to make a leap beyond reason to the belief that God exists. And when I make this leap, I think I make it not to a belief in the God of the philosophers but I think the God I believe to exist is the God that is worshipped by the religions of the West. As Pascal says and other philosophers, 'The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.'


Beren, Steve (Born September 9, 1951) -- Former member of the Socialist Workers Party (United States); now a Christian conservative politician
  • Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times editorial columnist. "McDermott challenger knows a little something about the left," posted online Wednesday, August 9, 2006.

    Beren stayed in the party an unusually long time, moving from one leftist cause to another. He defended Castro, the Sandinistas and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
    "Sometimes I would work in a factory in a union job, imagining that's what a leftist would do," he says.
    In 1990, in Seattle, he gave it up. It was not the collapse of communism, he says. "I just thought, I'm too tired to do this. I'm just going to be a regular guy."
    He got a career job. (He is now director of operations for ShopLocal.com, a Seattle Internet company.) In 1975, he threw off his atheism and became a Christian. He got married.

  • My Conversion from Atheism and Communism to Christianity.

    Today, I am a patriot. I love this country, and defend it. But I was not always a patriot. I was once an opponent of the United States, opposed in principle to the very concept of patriotism. I opposed America and supported its enemies.

    Today, I am an evangelical Christian. On February 10, 1995, I made a life-changing decision to turn away from my past and to commit my life to Christ. I certainly had a past worth turning away from. But I was not always a Christian. I was once an atheist, opposed in principle to the very concept of Christianity. I mocked God, and ridiculed faith and moral values.

    When I hear the words of Amazing Grace - "that saved a wretch like me" - I know those words are meant for me. Some people wrestle with the demons of alcoholism or drug addiction or depression. My demons were different.

    As a 17-year-old college freshman at CCNY, I joined the Young Socialist Alliance, a communist youth group, in November 1968. For 22 years, as a communist and supporter of the Socialist Workers Party, virtually all my time and resources were devoted to the "movement." I resigned in December 1990, not because I had changed my mind, but because I was simply "burnt out." I "retired" from politics, and started to do what most people do - concentrate on career, friendships, family, health, etc.

    I was totally broke and heavily in debt, having contributed a large part of my income over the years to the party. As I worked my way out of debt, I realized I had some "personal issues" to deal with. I gradually began to see that these "issues" reflected a spiritual lack - a very severe emptiness. Gradually, and not necessarily according to a plan, I began to read the bible and study religious history. My life changed.

    As a communist, I had done some blatantly dishonest things. For example, I participated in communist efforts to infiltrate certain key trade unions and certain key industries, lying about my job history and creating false resumes so that I could become a machinist or steelworker or textile worker or airport worker.

    I obtained, and held down, a steady honest job. And I found that I enjoyed working and pursuing a career. I even had some modest success. I began to meet spiritually-minded people, and decided to commit my life to Christ, becoming a Christian on February 10, 1995. The exact turning point and decision point was a particularly intense 2:00 am Christian radio talk show, but it really was a process.

    After I became a Christian, my life changed in many ways. I started to examine my past, recognized my failings and sins, and went on a different path. During that time, I also went through a gradual political evolution, changing my views about government, capitalism, patriotism, the military, etc. But I was no longer an activist - I was just a private citizen.

    After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, I realized I had a further contribution to make as a citizen political activist. I have a particular insight into the true motives of antiwar radicals and far left extremists, and I found myself called to do what I could to help support the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

    I hope my example will serve as a reminder of God's love, power, and grace, and perhaps as some inspiration to others.


Bignon, Guillaume (Fl. 21st Century) – French theologian, philosopher

Bird, Michael F. (Born 1974) -- Swedish Australian theologian and New Testament scholar
  • Michael F. Bird. How God Became Jesus—and How I Came to Faith in Him; Bart Ehrman’s narrative suggests the more educated you are, the less likely you are to believe. My life proves otherwise. Christianity Today. Posted April 16, 2014.

    As a teenager, I wrote poetry mocking belief in God. My mother threw enough profanity at religious door knockers to make even a sailor blush.

    Many years later, however, I read the New Testament for myself. The Jesus I encountered was far different from the deluded radical, even mythical character described to me. This Jesus—the Jesus of history—was real. He touched upon things that cut close to my heart, especially as I pondered the meaning of human existence. I was struck by the early church's testimony to Jesus: In Christ's death God has vanquished evil, and by his resurrection he has brought life and hope to all.

    When I crossed from unbelief to belief, all the pieces suddenly began to fit together. I had always felt a strange unease about my disbelief. I had an acute suspicion that there might be something more, something transcendent, but I also knew that I was told not to think that. I "knew" that ethics were nothing more than aesthetics, a mere word game for things I liked and disliked. I felt conflicted when my heart ached over the injustice and cruelty in the world.

    Faith grew from seeds of doubt, and I came upon a whole new world that, for the first time, actually made sense to me. To this day, I do not find faith stifling or constricting. Rather, faith has been liberating and transformative for me. It has opened a constellation of meaning, beauty, hope, and life that I had been indoctrinated to deny. And so began a lifelong quest to know, study, and teach about the one whom Christians called Lord.

    ... For many secularists, Ehrman is a godsend who propagates common misconceptions about Jesus and the early church. He believes there was a spectrum of divinity between gods and humans in the ancient world. Therefore, he asserts that the early church's beliefs about Jesus evolved: from a man exalted to heaven to an angel who became human to a pre-existent "divine" person who became incarnate to a subordinated or lesser god to being declared one with God.

    My faith and studies have led me to believe otherwise. First-century Jews and early Christians clearly demarcated God from all other reality, thus leading them to hold to a very strict monotheism. That said, Jesus was not seen as a Greek god like Zeus who trotted about earth or a human being who morphed into an angel at death. Rather, the first Christians redefined the concept of "one God" around the person and work of Jesus Christ. Not to mention the New Testament writers, especially Luke and Paul, consistently identify Jesus with the God of Israel.

    Many people get the idea that Jesus was just a prophet and never claimed to be divine. But a careful look at the Gospels shows that the historical Jesus explicitly claimed to exercise divine prerogatives. He identified himself with God's activity in the world. He believed that in his own person, Israel's God was returning to Zion, just as the prophets had promised. And he claimed he would sit on God's throne. These claims, when studied up close, are de facto claims to divine personhood, the reasons religious leaders of the day were so outraged.

    Evidence shows that Jesus claimed to be God incarnate, and within 20-some years after his death and resurrection, Christians were identifying him with the God of Israel, using the language and grammar of the Old Testament to do so.

    Sure, some sects in the first few centuries held heretical beliefs about Jesus. But the mainstream, orthodox view of Christ's identity was always consistent with and rooted in the New Testament, though orthodox Christology became more refined in the following centuries.


Borg, Andrews (Born January 11, 1968) -- Swedish Economist and Politician. Minister of Finance
  • Andrew Higgins. In Europe, God Is (Not) Dead. The Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2007, page A1.

    Anders Borg, Swedish Finance Minister, former non-believer and Europe's only senior male official with a pony-tail, left the Church of Sweden when he was about 18. For years he considered himself an atheist. In a recent interview with Dagens Industri, he said he'd reconsidered:

    "Lately, I have decided to consider myself a Christian. For me, the core of the Christian love message is reconciliation, forgiveness and peace."


Campbell, Charles H. (Fl. 21st century) -- Director of the Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry
  • Q&A with Charlie Campbell.

    When I was twenty one years old my atheism stopped adding up in my mind. As an atheist I believed nobody x nothing = everything. "Well hold on a second," I began to think, "How could something (the universe) come from nothing and by nothing?" So, I was really wrestling with this for a while. But I also was wondering, "If God exists, how could anyone know if it's the God of Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, or the Jehovah's Witnesses?" So there I was; I was managing a surf shop on the beach in Carlsbad, California, and all these people around me in the surfing world, including Joey Buran (a local professional surfer), were becoming Christians and going to a church called "Calvary Chapel" in a neighboring town named Vista. So I thought, "Maybe I'll try going to that church sometime and see what these people are so excited about." I didn't own a suit or a tie, but I thought "If all these surfers are going there, they must allow my type in, you know, with jeans." So I went.

    . . . Well, I bought the first of what became many books along those lines. As I read through them, I was very impressed with the evidence. This was evidence I had never heard of (fulfilled prophecies, archaeological discoveries and so on). Slowly over the course of that year, I realized my atheism was more rooted in the fact that I wanted to live a sinful life than in any kind of sound logic or evidence. So, in 1990 I placed my trust in Jesus. I called out to Him to forgive me for my sins (which were many!) and to come into my life and be my Lord. And He did! Within months I began to notice my heart change. My sinful desires were disappearing. New godly desires began emerging. I was astonished! I thought "This is miraculous; God has delivered me from the power of sin!" just as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away."


Chambers, Whittaker. (April 1, 1901 – July 9, 1961) -- American writer and editor. Former Communist Party USA member and spy for the Soviet Union.
  • Forward to Witness. Letter to My Children. New York, Random House. 1952. 808 pp. 22 cm. An autobiographical memoir written just after Chambers confessed to his earlier affiliation with the Communist Party and testified against his former friend and comrade, Alger Hiss, in the biggest espionage trial of the twentieth century.

    "Communists are that part of mankind which has recovered the power to live or die -to bear witness-for its faith. And it is a simple, rational faith that inspires men to live or die for it.

    "It is not new. It is, in fact, man's second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: "Ye shall be as gods." It is the great alternative faith of mankind. Like all great faiths, its force derives from a simple vision. Other ages have had great visions. They have always been different versions of the same vision: the vision of God and man's relationship to God. The Communist vision is the vision of Man without God.

    "It is the vision of man's mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world. It is the vision of man's liberated mind, by the sole force of its rational intelligence, redirecting man's destiny and reorganizing man's life and the world. It is the vision of man, once more the central figure of the Creation, not because God made man in His image, but because man's mind makes him the most intelligent of the animals. Copernicus and his successors displaced man as the central fact of the universe by proving that the earth was not the central star of the universe. Communism restores man to his sovereignty by the simple method of denying God.

    "... Why do men break with Communism? He can only answer the question: How did you break with Communism? My answer is: Slowly, reluctantly, in agony. Yet my break began long before I heard those screams. Perhaps it does for everyone. I do not know how far back it began. Avalanches gather force and crash, unheard, in men as in the mountains. But I date my break from a very casual happening. I was sitting in our apartment on St. Paul Street in Baltimore. It was shortly before we moved to Alger Hiss's apartment in Washington. My daughter was in her high chair. I was watching her eat. She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life. I liked to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the Hoor. My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear-those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: "No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design." The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion. I had to crowd it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.

    "One thing most ex-Communists could agree upon: they broke because they wanted to be free. They do not all mean the same thing by "free." Freedom is a need of the soul, and nothing else. It is in striving toward God that the soul strives continually after a condition of freedom. God alone is the inciter and guarantor of freedom. He is the only guarantor. External freedom is only an aspect of interior freedom. Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom the soul dies. Without the soul there is no justification for freedom. Necessity is the only ultimate justification known to the mind. Hence every sincere break with Communism is a religious experience, though the Communist fail to identify its true nature, though he fail to go to the end of the experience. His break is the political expression of the perpetual need of the soul whose first faint stirring he has felt within him, years, months or days before he breaks. A Communist breaks because he must choose at last between irreconcilable opposites-God or Man, Soul or Mind, Freedom or Communism...."

      Witness, page 17: "There has never been a society or a nation without God. But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that became indifferent to God, and died."

      Witness, page 82: "I associated God with ill-ventilated vestries and ill-ventilated minds."

      Witness, page 83: "What I had been fell from me like dirty rags. The rags that fell from me were not only Communism. What fell was the whole web of the materialist modern mind-the luminous shroud which it has spun about the spirit of man, paralyzing in the name of rationalism the instinct of his soul for God, denying in the name of knowledge the reality of the soul and its birthright in that mystery on which mere knowledge falters and shatters at every step."

  • President Ronald Reagan.Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida. March 8, 1983. The President refers to, and quotes, Whittaker Chambers.

Catchpoole, David (May 29, 1874 – June 14, 1936) -- Australian plant physiologist.
  • Michael Matthews. From Lampooning 'Loonies' to Shouting 'Creation!'; Former atheist scientist tours USA. Posted June 22, 2004.

    An avowed atheist when he first went to university, David expected to be immersed in a world of hard facts--safe from foolish speculation about the spiritual world. But he got his first shock when he arrived on campus. A professor told incoming students, '80% of what you'll learn is wrong, but we don't know which 80%.'

    What David didn't realize is that a heap of speculation goes into interpreting the distant past, which scientists cannot observe or repeat (see 'It's not science'). He was still an ardent evolutionistic atheist when he went to Indonesia to do field research work for his Ph.D. David was amazed to find that everyone in that country was religious and believed in the spiritual realm--including scientists.

    While there, he got desperately sick with typhoid and faced a personal crisis. At that critical time, he remembered the words of some Christian university students, who had witnessed to him earlier, telling him to cry out to God if he ever faced a crisis.

    So he called out to God, 'God, it sounds strange even saying your name, because I'm not sure you even exist. But if you can hear me and get me out of this mess, I'll be a Christian for the rest of my days.' David says the Lord heard his childlike bargain, and he in turn began attending church regularly.


Chesterson, G.K. (May 29, 1874 – June 14, 1936) -- English writer and journalist.
    G. K. Chesterson and "The Strangest Story in the World"
    From The Everlasting Man, a work C.S. Lewis said had influenced him. G.K. Chesterson's text may have helped formulate Lewis's "Trilemma":

    The purpose of these pages is to fix the falsity of certain vague and vulgar assumptions; and we have here one of the most false. There is a sort of notion in the air everywhere that all the religions are equal because all the religious founders were rivals, that they are all fighting for the same starry crown. It is quite false. The claim to that crown, or anything like that crown, is really so rare as to be unique. Mahomet did not make it any more than Micah or Malachi. Confucius did not make it any more that Plato or Marcus Aurelius. Buddha never said he was Brahma. Zoroaster no more claimed to be Ormuz than to be Ahriman. The truth is that, in the common run of cases, it is just as we should expect it to be, in common sense and certainly in Christian philosophy. It is exactly the other way. Normally speaking, the greater a man is, the less likely he is to make the very greatest claim. Outside the unique case we are considering, the only kind of man who ever does make that kind of claim is a very small man; a secretive or self-centered monomaniac. Nobody can imagine Aristotle claiming to be the father of gods and men, come down from the sky; though we might imagine some insane Roman Emperor like Caligula claiming it for him, or more probably for himself. Nobody can imagine Shakespeare talking as if he were literally divine; though we might imagine some crazy American crank finding it as a cryptogram in Shakespeare's works, or preferably in his own works.

    It is possible to find here and there human beings who make this supremely superhuman claim. It is possible to find them in lunatic asylums; in padded cells; possibly in strait waistcoats. But what is much more important than their mere materialistic fate in our very materialistic society, under very crude and clumsy laws about lunacy, the type we know as tinged with this, or tending towards it, is a diseased and disproportionate type; narrow yet swollen and morbid to monstrosity. It is by rather an unlucky metaphor that we talk of a madman as cracked; for in a sense he is not cracked enough. He is cramped rather than cracked; there are not enough holes in his head to ventilate it. This impossibility of letting in daylight on a delusion does sometimes cover and conceal a delusion of divinity. It can be found, not among prophets and sages and founders of religions, but only among a low set of lunatics. But this is exactly where the argument becomes intensely interesting; because the argument proves too much. For nobody supposes that Jesus of Nazareth was that sort of person. No modern critic in his five wits thinks that the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount was a horrible half-witted imbecile that might be scrawling stars on the walls of a cell. No atheist or blasphemer believes that the author of the Parable of the Prodigal Son was a monster with one mad idea like a cyclops with one eye. Upon any possible historical criticism, he must be put higher in the scale of human beings than that. Yet by all analogy we have really to put him there or else in the highest place of all.

    G.K. Chesterson and the Soul of Christendom
    From The Everlasting Man:

    I have admitted freely that, considering the incident in itself, a man who says he is God may be classed with a man who says he is glass. But the man who says he is glass is not a glazier making windows for all the world. He does not remain for after ages as a shining and crystalline figure, in whose light everything is as clear as crystal.

    But this madness has remained sane. The madness has remained sane when everything else went mad. The madhouse has been a house to which, age after age, men are continually coming back as to a home. That is the riddle that remains; that anything so abrupt and abnormal should still be found a habitable and hospitable thing. I care not if the sceptic says it is a tall story; I cannot see how so toppling a tower could stand so long without foundation. Still less can I see how it could become, as it has become, the home of man. Had it merely appeared and disappeared, it might possibly have been remembered or explained as the last leap of the rage of illusion, the ultimate myth of the ultimate mood, in which the mind struck the sky and broke. But the mind did not break. It is the one mind that remains unbroken in the break-up of the world. If it were an error, it seems as if the error could hardly have lasted a day. If it were a mere ecstasy, it would seem that such an ecstasy could not endure for an hour. It has endured for nearly two thousand years; and the world within it has been more lucid, more level-headed, more reasonable in its hopes, more healthy in its instincts, more humorous and cheerful in the face of fate and death, than all the world outside. For it was the soul of Christendom that came forth from the incredible Christ; and the soul of it was common sense. Though we dared not look on His face we could look on His fruits; and by His fruits we should know Him. The fruits are solid and the fruitfulness is much more than a metaphor; and nowhere in this sad world are boys happier in apple-trees, or men in more equal chorus singing as they tread the vine, than under the fixed flash of this instant and intolerant enlightenment; the lightning made eternal as the light.


Collins, Francis (1950- ) – American physician-geneticist, noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes. Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.
    I've found God, says man who cracked the genome by Steven Swinford, The Sunday Times, June 11, 2006.

    "When you make a breakthrough it is a moment of scientific exhilaration because you have been on this search and seem to have found it," he said. "But it is also a moment where I at least feel closeness to the creator in the sense of having now perceived something that no human knew before but God knew all along.

    "When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can't survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I can't help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God's mind."

    ... Collins was an atheist until the age of 27, when as a young doctor he was impressed by the strength that faith gave to some of his most critical patients.

    "They had terrible diseases from which they were probably not going to escape, and yet instead of railing at God they seemed to lean on their faith as a source of great comfort and reassurance," he said. "That was interesting, puzzling and unsettling."

    He decided to visit a Methodist minister and was given a copy of C S Lewis's Mere Christianity, which argues that God is a rational possibility. The book transformed his life. "It was an argument I was not prepared to hear," he said. "I was very happy with the idea that God didn't exist, and had no interest in me. And yet at the same time, I could not turn away."

    His epiphany came when he went hiking through the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. He said: "It was a beautiful afternoon and suddenly the remarkable beauty of creation around me was so overwhelming, I felt, 'I cannot resist this another moment'."

    Collins believes that science cannot be used to refute the existence of God because it is confined to the "natural" world. In this light he believes miracles are a real possibility. "If one is willing to accept the existence of God or some supernatural force outside nature then it is not a logical problem to admit that, occasionally, a supernatural force might stage an invasion," he says.

    The Question of God: Interview with Francis Collins. WGBH Educational Foundation, 2004.

    "So this wonderful minister gave me his own copy of Mere Christianity, Lewis's slim tome that outlines the arguments leading to his conclusion that God is not only a possibility, but a plausibility. That the rational man would be more likely, upon studying the facts, to conclude that choosing to believe is the appropriate choice, as opposed to choosing not to believe.

    "That was a concept I was really unprepared to hear. Until then, I don't think anyone had ever suggested to me that faith was a conclusion that one could arrive at on the basis of rational thought. I, and I suspect, many other scientists who've never really looked at the evidence, had kind of assumed that faith was something that you arrived at, either because it was drummed into your head when you were a little kid or by some emotional experience, or some sort of cultural pressure. The idea that you would arrive at faith because it made sense, because it was rational, because it was the most appropriate choice when presented with the data, that was a new concept. And yet, reading through the pages of Lewis's book, I came to that conclusion over the course of several very painful weeks.

    "I didn't want this conclusion. I was very happy with the idea that God didn't exist, and had no interest in me. And yet at the same time, I could not turn away. I had to keep turning those pages. I had to keep trying to understand this. I had to see where it led. But I still didn't want to make that decision to believe. The decision was an important step that I hadn't been aware of. You can argue yourself, on the basis of pure intellect, right up to the precipice of belief, but then you have to decide. I don't believe intellectual argument alone will push someone across that gap, because we are not talking about something which can be measured in the same way that science measures the natural world, and then you decide what is natural truth. This is supernatural truth. And in that regard, the spirit enters into this, not just the mind.

    "I struggled with that for many months, really resisting this decision, going forward, going backward. Finally, after about a year, I was on a trip to the northwest, and on a beautiful afternoon hiking in the Cascade Mountains, where the remarkable beauty of the creation around me was so overwhelming, I felt, "I cannot resist this another moment. This is something I have really longed for all my life without realizing it, and now I've got the chance to say yes." So I said yes. I was 27. I've never turned back. That was the most significant moment in my life.

    Of Lewis's arguments, which one was the most difficult for you to dispute?

    To my surprise, I found myself fairly easily compelled by his arguments about the existence of some sort of a God, because even as a scientist, I had to admit that we had no idea how the universe got started. The hard part for me was the idea of a personal God, who has an interest in humankind. And the argument that Lewis made there -- the one that I think was most surprising, most earth-shattering, and most life-changing -- is the argument about the existence of the moral law. How is it that we, and all other members of our species, unique in the animal kingdom, know what's right and what's wrong? In every culture one looks at, that knowledge is there.

    "Where did that come from? I reject the idea that that is an evolutionary consequence, because that moral law sometimes tells us that the right thing to do is very self-destructive. If I'm walking down the riverbank, and a man is drowning, even if I don't know how to swim very well, I feel this urge that the right thing to do is to try to save that person. Evolution would tell me exactly the opposite: preserve your DNA. Who cares about the guy who's drowning? He's one of the weaker ones, let him go. It's your DNA that needs to survive. And yet that's not what's written within me."

    Bob Abernethy's interview with Dr. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health.

    "I think there's a common assumption that you cannot both be a rigorous, show-me-the-data scientist and a person who believes in a personal God. I would like to say that from my perspective that assumption is incorrect; that, in fact, these two areas are entirely compatible and not only can exist within the same person, but can exist in a very synthetic way, and not in a compartmentalized way. I have no reason to see a discordance between what I know as a scientist who spends all day studying the genome of humans and what I believe as somebody who pays a lot of attention to what the Bible has taught me about God and about Jesus Christ. Those are entirely compatible views.

    "Science is the way -- a powerful way, indeed -- to study the natural world. Science is not particularly effective -- in fact, it's rather ineffective -- in making commentary about the supernatural world. Both worlds, for me, are quite real and quite important. They are investigated in different ways. They coexist. They illuminate each other. And it is a great joy to be in a position of being able to bring both of those points of view to bear in any given day of the week. The notion that you have to sort of choose one or the other is a terrible myth that has been put forward, and which many people have bought into without really having a chance to examine the evidence. I came to my faith not, actually, in a circumstance where it was drummed into me as a child, which people tend to assume of any scientist who still has a personal faith in God; but actually by a series of compelling, logical arguments, many of them put forward by C. S. Lewis, that got me to the precipice of saying, 'Faith is actually plausible.' You still have to make that step. You will still have to decide for yourself whether to believe. But you can get very close to that by intellect alone."

    Read also Collins: Why this scientist believes in God.

    http://www.veritas.org/media - Is there evidence for belief? Are science and faith consistent ways of seeing the world? Join us as Dr. Francis Collins, world-renowned geneticist, physician, and Former Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health shares his journey from atheism to faith, propelled by science. His talk is followed by a Q&A session. The Veritas Forum at Caltech, 2009.

    "The Language of God: Intellectual Reflections of a Christian Geneticist" February 4, 2008, at The University of California, Berkeley. Uploaded on Feb 8, 2008.


Colson, Charles W. / Chuck (1931-2012 ) – Author. Watergate conspirator, later born-again Christian.
  • "Three Died that Day".

    Through his specifically Christian writings, Lewis used logic to explore the meaning of Christianity. In Mere Christianity--which played a decisive role in my conversion to Christ--Lewis cogently explains in simple language original sin, the transcendent Creator God, and the transforming work of Jesus Christ.

    ... In 1973, in the midst of the Watergate crisis, I visited the home of a friend who read to me from Mere Christianity. In that book, I encountered a formidable intellect and a logical argument that I found utterly persuasive. That night in the driveway of my friend's home I called out to God in a flood of tears and surrendered my life to Christ.


Cooper, Thomas (1805-1892) – English chartist and writer.

    (TM): There is a standard image of the 19th century as the era when educated Christians lost their faith. Thomas Cooper (1805-1892), a self-educated cobbler with a prodigous thirst for knowledge, was one of those Christians; having been prepared for the Methodist ministry as a young man, he read David Strauss's Life of Jesus and became a "freethinker." But a few decades later, he rethought the objections that had caused him to abandon Christianity and returned to the faith. Cooper spent the last three decades of his life traveling the length and breadth of England and Scotland giving lectures and preaching sermons--by Timothy Larsen's count, 4,292 lectures and 2,568 sermons in 545 different cities, towns, or other distinct localities from Inverness to Jersey--in defense of Christianity.

    ... The story of Cooper's loss of faith and his subsequent reconversion is well told both in Cooper's own autobiography, The Life of Thomas Cooper (1871; 4th ed. 1873), and in Timothy Larsen's important historical study Crisis of Doubt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

  • The Bridge of history over the gulf of time: A Popular view of the historical evidence for the truth of Christianity. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1871. vii, 162 pp.; 17 cm.

    (TM): The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time is a work born from those lectures, and it gives a good sense of Cooper's lively lecture style, aimed at holding the attention of the working man. Cooper takes his audience on an idiosyncratic and entertaining tour, century by century, moving back from the nineteenth century to the first. Though he stops frequently to explore interesting byways, he always comes back to the main path with one question in mind: where did Christianity come from? Though the lectures are not deeply scholarly, they reveal Cooper's intimate familiarity with the objections to Christian belief that he himself once thought decisive. In the opening paragraphs he expresses his hope that those who read his "light thoughts" may be motivated to take up a deeper study of the evidences for Christianity in the more scholarly works of Lardner, Paley, Horne, and Westcott.

  • The Life of Thomas Cooper. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1872. viii, 400 pp. illus. 19 cm.

    Read more about Cooper here.


Davidman, Joy / Gresham, Joy (1915-1960) -- Poet and wife of C.S. Lewis (2nd marriage). Former member of the American Communist Party
  • Cynthia Haven. Lost in the shadow of C.S. Lewis' fame; Joy Davidman was a noted poet, a feisty Communist and a free spirit. San Francisco Chronicle, January 1, 2006. At 8, she read H.G. Wells' "Outline of History" and pronounced herself an atheist.
    ...One night in 1946, Gresham telephoned Davidman to tell her, incoherently, that he was having a nervous breakdown. Davidman waited at their upstate New York home after putting their two sons to bed, helpless and defeated for the first time in her life. This was the night she says "God came in":
    "There was a Person with me in that room, directly present to my consciousness -- a Person so real that all my precious life was by comparison a mere shadow play. And I myself was more alive than I had ever been; it was like waking from sleep. So intense a life cannot be endured long by flesh and blood; we must ordinarily take our life watered down, diluted as it were, by time and space and matter. My perception of God lasted perhaps half a minute."

Disraeli, Benjamin (1804-1881) – England's first and only Jewish Prime Minister

    From Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography, source

    Chapter 24, written in 1852.

    Nor is it indeed historically true that the small section of the Jewish race which dwelt in Palestine rejected Christ. The reverse is the truth. Had it not been for the Jews of Palestine the good tidings of our Lord would have been unknown for ever to the northern and western races. The first preachers of the gospel were Jews, and none else; the historians of the gospel were Jews, and none else. No one has ever been permitted to write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit except a Jew. For nearly a century no one believed in the good tidings except Jews. They nursed the sacred flame of which they were the consecrated and hereditary depositories. And when the time was right to diffuse the truth among the ethnicks, it was not a senator of Rome or a philosopher of Athens who was personally appointed by our Lord for that office, but a Jew of Tarsus, who founded the seven churches of Asia. And that greater church, great even amid its terrible corruptions, that has avenged the victory of Titus by subjugating the capital of the Caesars and has changed every one of the Olympian temples into altars of the God of Sinai and of Calvary, was founded by another Jew, a Jew of Galilee.

    From all which it appears that the dispersion of the Jewish race, preceding as it did for countless ages the advent of our Lord, could not be for conduct which occurred subsequently to the advent, and that they are also guiltless of that subsequent conduct which has been imputed to them as a crime, since for Him and His blessed name they preached, and wrote, and shed their blood 'as witnesses'.

    ...The wildest dreams of their rabbis have been far exceeded. Has not Jesus conquered Europe and changed its name to Christendom? All countries that refuse the cross wither, and the time will come, when the vast communities and countless myriads of America and Australia, looking upon Europe as Europe now looks upon Greece, and wondering how so small a space could have achieved such great deeds, will find music in the songs of Zion and solace in the parables of Galilee.


Eaton, William (23 February 1764 – 1 June 1811) – U.S. General and Consul to Tunis (1797-1803)
  • Compiled by Charles Prentiss. The Life of the Late Gen. William Eaton: severl years an officer in the United States' Army, consul at the regency of Tunis on the coast of Barbary, and Commander of the Christian and other forces that marched from Egypt through the Desert of Barca, in 1805 ... principally collected from his correspondence and other manuscripts. E. Merriam & Co., 1813. 448 pp.

    I once formed a resolution to dispute with no man on religious subjects. The resolution was well formed; and I have reason to regret having ever in any instance departed from it. I here renew it. Religion is a necessary guide to human actions, an anchor of hope, a dernier resort from the evils of this illusive life; and both humanity and good manners forbid an attempt to deprive a bewildered mortal of a sanctuary so hospitable, let vision shape it in what manner it will.

    There are perhaps but few among the vast mass of men, who are void of religioius principles, who have philosophy or resolution to resist the temptations which the sensations of every day convey to the mind: hence most men, who have not a sacred regard for religion of some kind, are dissolute in their manners; and those, who effect to despise it, are abandoned to every vice which sense invites and whic darkness can hide from the penetration of justice.

    I was once a Christian, and believed in miracles; became a deist from the absurdity introduced to that system by the hypocricy, bigotry and ignorance of priestcraft; am now again a Christian, from a conviction of the simplicity and excellence of its morality, its manly independence, and its immortal hope. I have also political reasons. In a country where Christianity is the prevailing religion, every honest patroit should be a Christian, to prevent that mischief which hypocrites and knaves, both political and divine, are capable of committing under the garb of Christianity.--p. 159.


Elst, Philip Vander (1926-July 21, 1998) – English author and journalist
  • From Atheism to Christianity: a Personal Journey.

    My scepticism and hostility towards Christianity, which developed in my teens under the influence of thinkers like Ayn Rand and Bertrand Russell, grew even stronger while I was at Oxford. Then, at the age of 24, I met my future wife, who turned out to be a Christian. Shocked by the discovery that this highly intelligent and beautiful woman was ‘one of them’, I determined to find out whether there was any good evidence for the existence of God and the truthfulness of Christianity, making it quite clear from the outset, however, that I was not prepared to become a believer just to cement our relationship!

    I started to read C.S. Lewis, whose Chronicles of Narnia I had enjoyed as a child. I did so for three reasons. First because he had himself been an atheist, and might therefore be able to answer my many questions and objections. Secondly, because I respected his intellect. Here was a man who had graduated from Oxford with Triple First Class Honours in Classics, Philosophy and English, and had then become one of the greatest British academics of his generation. If he could have made the journey from atheism to Christianity, perhaps I was mistaken in thinking that you had to bury your brain in order to believe in God. Furthermore, and this was my third reason for studying his writings, you couldn’t accuse C.S. Lewis of being glib or shallow about suffering. Having lost his mother at the age of 10, been unhappy at school, and then gone on to experience the horrors of trench warfare during the First World War, he was obviously only too aware of the problem of evil. His discussion of these issues would surely, I thought, be illuminating.

    This proved indeed to be the case. As I read Lewis’s three most important books, Mere Christianity, Miracles and The Problem of Pain, I found myself not only following in the footsteps of a person who had wrestled with all the issues that were troubling me; I was also discovering intelligent and convincing answers to all my doubts. . . .


Franklin, Benjamin (1706–1790) -- Universalist. U.S. Founding Father
  • Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion, in Two Parts.
  • Jared Sparks, editor. The Works of Benjamin Franklin: containing several political and historical tracts not included in any former edition, and many letters official. Boston, 1836-1840. 589 pp. Vol. 7 of 9. Extracts.

    Letter to Mrs. Jane Mecom:

    "I am so far from thinking that God is not to be worshipped, that I have composed and wrote a whole book of devotions for my own use; and I imagine there are few if any in the world so weak as to imagine, that the little good we can do here can merit so vast a reward hereafter."

    Letter to George Whitefield, June 6, 1753:

    "Even the mixed, imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world, are rather from God's goodness than our merit; how much more such happiness of heaven! For my part I have not the vanity to think I deserve it, the folly to expect it, nor the ambition to desire it; but content myself in submitting to the will and disposal of that God who made me, who has hitherto preserved and blessed me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well confide, that he will never make me miserable; and that even the afflictions I may at any time suffer shall tend to my benefit."

    ... "The worship of God is a duty; the hearing and reading of sermons may be useful; but, if men rest in hearing and praying, as too many do, it is as if a tree should value itself on being watered and putting forth leaves, though it never produced any fruit."

    Letter to George Whitefield, June 19, 1764:

    "That Being, who gave me existence, and through almost threescore years has been continually showing his favors upon me, whose very chastisements have been blessings to me; can I doubt that he loves me? And, if he loves me, can I doubt that he will go on to take care of me, not only here but hereafter?

    Letter to Sarah Franklin, November 8, 1764:

    "Go constantly to church, whoever preaches. The act of devotion in the Common Prayer Book is your principal business there, and if properly attended to, will do more towards amending the heart than sermons generally can do. For they were composed by men of much greater piety and wisdom, than our common composers of sermons can pretend to be; and therefore I wish you would never miss the prayer days; yet I do not mean you should despise sermons, even of the preachers you dislike, for the discourse is often much better than the man, as sweet and clear waters come through very dirty earth."

  • Jared Sparks, editor. The Works of Benjamin Franklin: containing several political and historical tracts not included in any former edition, and many letters official. Boston, 1836-1840. 558 pp. Vol. 10 of 9. Extract, pp. 281-282.

    Letter to Thomas Paine:

    DEAR SIR,

    I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence, that takes cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure, or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that, though your reasonings are subtile and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.

    But, were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.

    I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours,

    B. Franklin

  • David Barton.Benjamin Franklin's Letter to Thomas Paine.
  • Bill Fortenberry. The Conversion of Benjamin Franklin.

Grieve, Val (1926-July 21, 1998) – English solicitor, senior partner, latterly consultant, of Manchester law firm Croftons
  • A Fool for Christ. An address given at the London Easter Meeting of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship on April 1, 1985, at Niblett Hall, Temple, London, England. Published in Global Journal of Classical Theology, v. 1, n. 1., September 1998. Until I was 18, I was an atheist. I also called myself a Communist. As Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, I was one of those people who thought that Christianity was sheer foolishness. But at the age of 18, I first began to really think about the Christian faith, through the witness of a fellow student at St. John’s College, Oxford, where I was studying law. I began to see the relevance of the Christian faith and a horrible suspicion came over me that not only was the Christian faith true, but it was also going to become very relevant to my life. That is the reason I stand here this evening, quite unashamed to say that I am a fool for Christ. WHY? One of the main reasons I am a Christian is that I believe the Christian faith is the most relevant thing to this world in which we live. Frequently, I am asked, "Why did you change from being an atheist and a communist to become a Christian?" I give two reasons. Firstly, I have found that Christianity is true. Looking at the evidence for the resurrection, we begin to see that this marvellous thing called "Easter" actually happened! (Let me recommend to you the book, Who Moved the Stone? by another lawyer, Frank Morrison, -it is compulsive reading at Easter. He started to write a book disproving the resurrection, but after looking at all the evidence, ended up writing the best book ever written, proving the resurrection). So that is one reason why I became Christian: I found that Christianity is true. The second reason why I became a Christian was that I found that, far from being foolishness, the Christian faith is the most relevant thing to the world in which we live. And this is the theme of my message this evening. Your Verdict on the Empty Tomb, by Val Grieve (OM Publishing, 1988): I awoke in the morning of that day with no thoughts of Christ at all in my mind. I was as full of this world as the next person. Then suddenly the thought came to me that on Easter Sunday Jesus rose from the dead. He was alive and I could come in contact with him. Something inexplicable happened to me. I suddenly knelt down and talked to Christ. Yes, to Christ. I suddenly knew he was living, that he was near me and that he wanted to enter my life. I talked to him. I said, as far as I can remember, "Come into my life, Lord Jesus." As I said this, he came, Yes, he himself. I knew he was mine. A marvellous joy filled my life." I can look back now on what happened and can say from personal experience that conversation to Jesus is real and it lasts. Over the years, I have been asked many times how the change from being an atheist to being a Christian took place. I always reply by saying that there are two reasons for my being a Christian. Firstly, I found that Christianity is true. Secondly, I have found that it works in my life.

Harris, Charles (1865-1936) – Liberal scholar
  • Pro fide: A Defence of natural and revealed religion, Note, p. 321.

    [Re: James Drummond] Character and Authorship of the Fourth Gospel, p. 79 ff., p. 514. Another learned Unitarian defence of the Gospel is Dr. Ezra Abbot's External Evidence of the Fourth Gospel. The present writer began the investigation with a decided prejudice against the authenticity, but found the evidence too strong to be resisted.


Heegaard, Poul Sophus Vilhelm / Hegard, H. (November 2, 1871 - February 7, 1948) – Professor of Mathematics, University of Copenhagen
  • Sir Oliver Mowat Christianity, and Some of Its Evidences: An Address, p. 90. Also here. (Mowat erroneously called Poul Heegaard "Mbegard.")

    According to the Semeur Vaudois, he has recently published a second edition of his works, in the introduction to which he uses the following words:

    "The experience of life, its sufferings and griefs, have shaken my soul, and have broken the foundation upon which I formerly thought I could build. Full of faith in the sufficiency of science, I thought to have found in it a sure refuge from all the contingencies of life. This illusion is vanished; when the tempest came which plunged me in sorrow, the moorings, the cable of science, broke like thread. Then I seized upon that help which many before me have laid hold of. I sought and found peace in God. Since then I have certainly not abandoned science, but I have assigned to it another place in my life." Quoted in The Fundamentals, Volume 3, Chapter 26. Disclaimer: Unconfirmed. I have been unable to find the primary source for this quote.


Hitchens, Peter (Born October 28, 1951) – English journalist and author
    From How I found God and peace with my atheist brother: PETER HITCHENS traces his journey back to Christianity, Daily Mail, December 16, 2011:

    My own, slow return to faith began when I was 30, in 1981. By this time, I was doing well in my chosen trade, journalism. I could afford pleasant holidays with my girlfriend, whom I should nowadays call my 'partner' since we were not then married, on the European continent.

    I no longer avoided churches. I recognised in the great English cathedrals, and in many small parish churches, the old unsettling messages.

    One was the inevitability of my own death, the other the undoubted fact that my despised forebears were neither crude nor ignorant, but men and women of great skill and engineering genius, a genius not contradicted or blocked by faith, but enhanced by it.


Lepp, Ignace (October 26, 1909, Orajõe, Pärnu County, Estonia – May 29, 1966) – French writer. Former member of the Communist Party
  • Atheism: The Varieties of Non-Religious Experience. Time Magazine, v. 82, n. 3, July 19, 1963, p. 76. Review of Atheism in Our Time, Macmillan, 1963.

    Although he is now a Roman Catholic priest in Paris, Lepp has the credentials to explain the mind of the atheist: he was one himself for 27 years, and a Communist to boot. ... Lepp broke with the party after the Moscow trials of 1937, and eventually, a "metaphysical anxiety" drove him to question the meaning of life. In that psychological mood, he had his first encounter with the Christian message.

  • Autobiography. From Karl Marx to Jesus Christ. Sheed & Ward, 1958. 212 pp.

Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples) (November 29, 1898–November 22, 1963) -- Cambridge scholar and author
  • Surprised by Joy. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1955.

    Page 175:

    "I thought I had the Christians 'placed' and disposed of forever."

    Page 191:

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere--'Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,' as Herbert says, 'Fine nets and stratagems.' God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous."

    Pages 228-229:

    "You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?"

  • From Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955) Chapter XIV.
    "I gave in, and admitted that God was God ... perhaps that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." In this autobiography of his childhood, Lewis recounts the process of his own conversion as a young professor at Oxford in the 1930s.

  • Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd., 1952. Copyright renewed 1980. From the HarperCollins edition, 2001:

    Page 52:

    "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him, 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

    Page 64:

    "Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ's body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man's fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work."

  • Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism. Excerpt from Christian Reflections, edited by Walter Hooper; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1967; rpt. 1994.

    Page 154:

    " ... whatever these men may be as Biblical critics, I distrust them as critics. They seem to me to lack literary judgment, to be imperceptive about the very quality of the texts they are reading. It sounds a strange charge to bring against men who have been steeped in those books all their lives. But that might be just the trouble. A man who has spent his youth and manhood in the minute study of New Testament texts and of other people's studies of them, whose literary experiences of those texts lacks any standard of comparison such as can only grow from a wide and deep and genial experience of literature in general, is, I should think, very likely to miss the obvious things about them. If he tells me that something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavour; not how many years he has spent on that Gospel."

  • The Life of C.S. Lewis. Copyright © 2004 WGBH Educational Foundation.

  • From Mere Christianity (1952) book 1, chapter 2.

  • From Mere Christianity (1952) book 3, chapters 7 & 9.

  • From The Four Loves (1960) chapter VI.

  • From A Grief Observed (1961) chapters 1, 2 & 3.

Linnemann, Eta -- Professor of Theology/Religious Education, Pedagogic Academy, Braunschweig
  • The Lost Gospel Of Q - Fact Or Fantasy?". Trinity Journal, 17.1 (1996): 3-18.
  • Harold S. Martin. The Bible's Deadly Enemy: The Historical Critical Method of Interpretation.
  • Testimony. Edited transcript of a lecture given Wednesday, November 7, 2001, 7:00 p.m. Grace Valley Christian Center, Davis, California. As part of the Faith and Reason series, sponsored by Grace Alive! and Grace Valley Christian Center.

    "As a theologian, I was steeped in historical-criticism. If the Lord had not taken me out of it, I would still be in it. But the Lord can do all things, and he is able even to save one out of this theology. How did he do it?

    "First, the Lord convinced me with several experiences. I came to the realization that all the hard historical-critical work I was doing as a professor was not truth. To find this out was a dreadful shock for me, because truth had been my guiding star from childhood days. At the same time, through other experiences, I realized that historical-critical work gives no help in preaching the gospel. I, as most historical-critical theologians do, thought I was serving the church and God, but finally realized that my theological work did not help at all.

    "... For many years I had taught my students the historical-critical theory that there is a synoptic problem, whose only solution is the two-source theory. I taught that Matthew and Luke copied Mark, and then added their own information from another source. Now I found this had no basis. It is nothing but a hypothesis, though it is considered by many to be a fact. I began to examine these things, studying the arguments one by one. I concluded that there is not the slightest proof of it, and the arguments for it are based on secular reasoning.

    "Then I was led to the question of whether or not there non-genuine letters in the New Testament. The historical-critical theologians say that of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul, only seven are really written by him, although it is plainly written in the Bible that Paul wrote them all. In fact, these theologians say that the writers were lying when they said the letters were from Paul. Thus, they call these Scriptures pseudepigraphs, falsely inscribed writings. I began to investigate and after much time found that none of the arguments for doubting Paul's authorship was valid.

    "So I found out you can trust your Bible. You cannot trust historical critical theology or higher criticism. It is not trustworthy. I praise God for bringing me out of it, and pray that he will use me to bring others from criticism to Christ. "

  • Confessions of a Former Bultmannian.

    This article is taken, by permission, from the "Author's Introduction" of Eta Linnemann's book, Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology?, translated by Robert W. Yarbrough, published by Baker Book House, 1990.

    "By God's grace I experienced Jesus as the one whose name is above all names. I was permitted to realize that Jesus is God's Son, born of a virgin. He is the Messiah and the Son of Man; such titles were not merely conferred on him as the result of human deliberation. I recognized, first mentally, but then in a vital, experiential way, that Holy Scripture is inspired.

    "Not because of human talk but because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I have clear knowledge that my former perverse teaching was sin. At the time I am happy and thankful that this sin is forgiven me because Jesus bore it on the cross.

    "That is why I say "No!" to historical-critical theology. I regard everything that I taught and wrote before I entrusted my life to Jesus as refuse. I wish to use this opportunity to mention that I pitched my two books Gleichnisse Jesu . . . [4] and Studien zur Passionsgeschichte, along with my contributions to journals, anthologies, and Festschriften.[5] Whatever of these writings I had in my possession I threw into the trash with my own hands in 1978. I ask you sincerely to do the same thing with any of them you may have on your own bookshelf."

  • Translated by Robert W. Yarbrough. Biblical Criticism on Trial: How Scientific is "Scientific Theology"?. Kregel Publications, 2001. Some pages omitted from this preview.
  • Translated by Robert W. Yarbrough. Historical Criticism Of The Bible: Methodology Or Ideology? Reflections Of A Bultmannian Turned Evangelical. Some pages omitted from this preview.
  • Translated by Robert W. Yarbrough. Review of Historical Criticism Of The Bible: Methodology Or Ideology? Reflections Of A Bultmannian Turned Evangelical.

Lyttelton, George; 1st Baron Lyttelton (1709-1773) – British statesman
  • Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of Paul: being an argumentative and rational defence of the Christian revelation; deduced from the peculiar circumstances of St. Paul before his conversion, and the effects which followed it; as exemplified in his life, and in the doctrines which he preached: In a letter to Gilbert West, Esq./ By Lord George Lyttleton. [Two lines from Ecclesiastes] First Boston edition. Boston: Printed by Manning and Loring. Sold at their bookstore, no. 2, Cornhill, 1800. 95, [1], 23, [1] pp.; 17 cm. (12mo). 1819 edition.

    "Sir, in a late conversation we had together upon the subject of the Christian religion, I told you that besides all the proofs of it which may be drawn from the prophecies of the Old Testament, from the necessary connection it has with the whole system of the Jewish religion, from the miracles of Christ, and from the evidence given of his reflection by all the other apostles, I thought the conversion and apostleship of Saint Paul alone, duly considered, was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity a divine revelation."

    Britton H. Tabor. Skepticism Assailed, 1895: "Lord Lyttleton [sic] and his friend, Gilbert West, were both men of known ability, who had become skeptical on a superficial study and investigation of the Bible. They both entertained the idea that the Bible was an imposture, and entered into an agreement to expose what they assumed to be its fallacies. It was decided that West should write an attack on the resurrection, and Lord Lyttleton one on the conversion of St. Paul.

    "Both entered upon their chosen tasks with the avowed determination to oppose Christianity. But at the conclusion of their labors, instead of exulting over an exposure, as they had planned to do, both sadly lamented the follies of their past lives, and regretted that they had not sooner thoroughly investigated the Scriptures. Revolutionized in their convictions, they had become firm believers in our Holy Bible as being the Word of God.

    Lord Lyttleton said he found that every step of Paul's life after conversion showed honesty and sincerity of purpose, and that his account of the said conversion removed it from all visionary or speculative fields. He said that Paul was either a wicked impostor, or that his testimony was true; and that he referred to too many witnesses, dates, paces, and facts not to have been exposed if what he had stated was a dream or a lie, and that the facts and evidence corroborating Paul's testimony justified but one rational conclusion.

    "This profound lawyer and eminent jurist, thorough investigator and strong reasoner, whose fame will live as long as law is enforced, after full and thorough investigation, declared that he had no doubt whatever of the truth of Paul's testimony relating to the facts that led to his conversion and sudden change from an avowed Pharisee and persecutor to the greatest missionary the world has ever produced.

    "In our judgment, Lord Lyttleton's argument is the strongest ever written on the conversion of Paul, and is absolutely conclusive. Every one ought to read it."


McGrath, Alister Edgar (Born January 23, 1953) – British Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education, and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King's College, London
  • Biography.

  • Breaking the Science-Atheism Bond; As an atheist turned Christian, I know atheism is not the only conceivable worldview for a thinking person. Reprinted with permission from Science & Spirit Magazine.

    I believe in the God who is made known and made available through Jesus-that is, a personal God who I believe knows me as an individual, cares for me, and enables and inspires me to live my life with a firm sense of purpose and a deep satisfaction in the service of others. That situates me within the generous parameters of Christianity.

    ... Atheism, I began to realize, rested on a less-than-satisfactory evidential basis. The arguments that had once seemed bold, decisive, and conclusive increasingly turned out to be circular, tentative, and uncertain. The opportunity to talk with Christians about their faith revealed to me that I understood relatively little about their religion, which I had come to know chiefly through not-always-accurate descriptions by its leading critics, including British logician Bertrand Russell and German social philosopher Karl Marx. I also began to realize that my assumption of the automatic and inexorable link between the natural sciences and atheism was rather naïve and uninformed. One of the most important things I had to sort out, after my conversion to Christianity, was the systematic uncoupling of this bond. Instead, I would see the natural sciences from a Christian perspective-and I would try to understand why others did not share this perspective.

    ... To this day, I have never seen the sciences and religion as being fundamentally opposed to each other. As an historian, I am fully aware of important tensions and battles, usually the result of specific social conditions (such as the professionalization of science in late Victorian England) or the unwise overstatements of both scientists and theologians. Yet I judge that their relationship is generally benign, and always intellectually stimulating. My Christian faith brings me a deepened appreciation of the natural sciences, and although I am no longer active in primary scientific research, I keep up my reading in the fields that interest and excite me most: evolutionary biology, theoretical physics, biochemistry, and biophysics.

  • New Atheism – New Apologetics: The Use Of Science In Recent Christian Apologetic Writings.

    January 22, 2014, 6:00pm, St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, Oxford. 2014 Boyle lecture. A third habit of thought that I picked up during my time as a scientist is related to this. The core question that many of my philosophical colleagues want to ask about an idea is this: “Is it reasonable?” I have always baulked at this. This seems to be a sure-fire way of locking us into some form of rationalism, which allows reason to determine what can be right, and thus imprisons the scientific enterprise within a rationalist straitjacket. The fundamental question a scientist is going to ask is not “Is this reasonable?” but “What are the reasons for thinking this is true?” We cannot lay down in advance what “rationality” is characteristic of the universe; we have to find out by letting the universe tell us, or figuring out ways of uncovering it.

    Scientific rationality is thus best thought of as something that is discovered, rather than predetermined or predicted. In my first year studying chemistry at Oxford, I specialized in quantum theory, and soon realized that I had to learn to conform my own thinking to the nature of the universe, rather than tell the universe what form it should take, based on what seemed to me to be “reasonable”. I exaggerate slightly, but we might suggest that rationalism tells the universe what it ought to be like, whereas science allows the universe to answer back – and listens to it.

    ... The whole issue of making sense of reality is deeply embedded within both the natural sciences and the Christian faith. Indeed, if I might offer a personal perspective, one factor that led me decisively away from my youthful atheism to Christianity was my growing realization that the Christian faith made far more sense of what I saw around me and experienced within me than its atheist alternatives. I gladly endorse C. S. Lewis’s statement, now inscribed on his memorial stone in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

    Yet there is more to Christianity than making sense of things. We can hardly overlook its emphasis on the existentially transformative nature of salvation, nor the rich experience of beauty and awe, which is so often evoked in Christian worship. Yet the fact remains the intellectual capaciousness of faith cannot be overlooked. As the Harvard psychologist William James suggested many years ago, religious faith is basically “faith in the existence of an unseen order of some kind in which the riddles of the natural order may be found and explained.”

  • James Bishop. Former atheist Alister McGrath becomes a Christian because of science.


Morgan, Richard. (Fl. 21st Century)--Former Mormon missionary / Atheist

    Former Atheist Richard Morgan Interview Transcript. Apologetics315.com. Posted September 27, 2012. See also here.

    There is this famous French quotation, sometimes people attribute it to Pascal, other people attribute it to Jean Paul Satre. We don’t know who said it. In French it says, “Dans le cœur de chaque personne, il ya un trou en forme de Dieu”. David Robertson likes the English version. It says, “In every person’s heart, there is a God-shaped hole”. I’m aware of the presence of this God-shaped hole, that only the love of God can fill it. That when you desperately try and fill it with so many other things – scientific knowledge, many kinds of activity, drugs, cigarettes... people try and fill that space, that God-shaped space in the heart, with so many kinds of things but none of them satisfy. Only the love of God can fill that hole and answer man’s basic needs, regardless of his culture, regardless of the country in which he was born.

    You know, you hear the atheists saying, “Yes, well what you believe depends upon where you were born”. And that is so fallacious. That doesn’t say anything at all about the true nature of the human condition and man’s basic needs.

    Today's interview is with Richard Morgan, a former atheist who found salvation in Jesus Christ. His testimony is fascinating, as part of his conversion story came about through his interactions on the Richard Dawkins website discussion boards. He has appeared on the Unbelievable? Radio program. He talks about his background, how he arrived at atheism, how he viewed God, his encounters on the RD forums, and his conversion to Christianity. He also offers some words of insight for Christians and atheists. Uploaded on Aug 25, 2011.


Morison, Frank (pseud.) / Ross, Albert Henry (1881-1950) -- British journalist and author.
  • Who Moved the Stone?. Published by The Century co., 1944 Original from the University of California. 294 pages.

    "Finally, and this to my mind carried conclusive weight, we cannot find in the contemporary records any trace of a tomb or shrine becoming the Center of veneration or worship on the ground that it contained the relics of Jesus. This is inconceivable if it was ever seriously stated at the time that Jesus was really buried elsewhere than in the vacant tomb. Rumor would have asserted a hundred suppositious places where the remains really lay, and pilgrimages innumerable would have been made to them."


Newton, John (1725-1807) -- Clergyman, former slave ship captain turned abolitionist. Author of the hymn, Amazing Grace.

Olasky, Marvin (Born June 5, 1950) -- Distinguished Chair in Journalism and Public Policy at Patrick Henry College
  • God and Sinner Reconciled.

    "My communism was based on atheism, and when I was no longer an atheist I quickly resigned from the Party, although I thought I was leaving the eventually winning side. Not until 1976 did I become a Christian, however. The steps down that path were hesitant, and included activities such as watching classic westerns (with their strong sense of right and wrong) and reading Christian existentialists.

    Two activities that I did not choose helped to put me on solid ground. To satisfy a Ph.D. language requirement I had to improve my Russian, and one evening, just for reading practice, I plucked from my bookcase a copy of the New Testament in Russian given to me two years before as a novelty item and never even opened. To my surprise, the words had the ring of truth. (It helped that I had to read very slowly.)

    An assignment to teach a course in early American literature also helped, since my preparation involved reading... Puritan sermons. Those dead white males spoke truth. Later, the writings of C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer showed me that Christian hearts and brains could coexist in the twentieth century as well."

    Testimony in Professors Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of Christian Faculty, edited by Paul M. Anderson. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1998. ISBN 0-8308-1599-6.


Picard, Rosalind W. (Born May 17, 1962) -- Director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab
  • The Hardest Tests ... Click the link to read the testimony in its entirety.

    ... I used to be a staunch atheist, in part because of living fourteen years in the South, in the so-called "Bible belt." I assumed that those who believed in a God had thrown reason to the wind. I could look around and see all kinds of uneducated people who were believers, and I thought the two went hand in hand. I believed religion was a creation of man, contrived by people who weren't strong enough to handle death. I assumed that faith was not intellectual or based on evidence, that religious people were not real thinkers, and that if they only thought hard enough, then they would see that their religion was unnecessary, invented to help themselves cope better.

    ... Isn't it interesting that the non-existence of God cannot be proven, and science and logic both fail when one looks closely at these issues.

    This leaves open either agnosticism or belief in God. The rest of what was so hard for me is a longer story, which includes a recognition that there is a huge amount of historical and intellectual evidence for Christianity and for Judaism, e.g., see a 15-min talk on this topic that I gave spring 1995. For example, the Judeo-Christian God is the only one that is revealed as transcending both time and space (a good property if you think about physics and the origins of the universe.)

    ... It wasn't until I met a number of impressive thinkers who were intelligent in their faith and defied my stereotypes of religious people that I began to open my mind to really consider what was there. Here were well-educated thinking engineers, mathematicians, scientists, writers, artists, athletes, and leaders who thought more deeply about these things than I had. (I have started a partial list of famous Christian mathematicians, artists, and scientists. Sorry, I just included dead ones.) Have you thought deeply about whether or not God exists? How do you know what you believe is true? What if you are wrong? What difference have your beliefs made in your life? ...

  • Video testimony. Veritas Forum.


Powers, Kirsten (Born 1969) -- Political analyst
  • "Fox News' Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower". Christianity Today, posted online October 22, 2013. "Of all people surprised that I became an evangelical Christian, I'm the most surprised."

    A few months into our relationship, my boyfriend called to say he had something important to talk to me about. I remember exactly where I was sitting in my West Village apartment when he said, "Do you believe Jesus is your Savior?" My stomach sank. I started to panic. Oh no, was my first thought. He's crazy.

    When I answered no, he asked, "Do you think you could ever believe it?" He explained that he was at a point in life when he wanted to get married and felt that I could be that person, but he couldn't marry a non-Christian. I said I didn't want to mislead him—that I would never believe in Jesus.

    Then he said the magic words for a liberal: "Do you think you could keep an open mind about it?" Well, of course. "I'm very open-minded!" Even though I wasn't at all. I derided Christians as anti-intellectual bigots who were too weak to face the reality that there is no rhyme or reason to the world. I had found this man's church attendance an oddity to overlook, not a point in his favor.

    As he talked, I grew conflicted. On the one hand, I was creeped out. On the other hand, I had enormous respect for him. He is smart, educated, and intellectually curious. I remember thinking, What if this is true, and I'm not even willing to consider it?


Ramsay, Sir William Mitchell (March 15, 1851 – April 20, 1939) -- Classical scholar and archaeologist
  • St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1881.

    Chapter 1: THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES: TRUSTWORTHINESS.

    "I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without any prejudice in favour of the conclusion which I shall now attempt to justify to the reader. On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavourable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen theory had at one time quite convinced me. It did not lie then in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely; but more recently I found myself often brought in contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvellous truth. In fact, beginning with the fixed idea that the work was essentially a second-century composition, and never relying on its evidence as trustworthy for first-century conditions. I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations."

    "But, while recognising the risk, and the probable condemnation that awaits the rash attempt, I will venture to add one to the number of the critics, by stating in the following chapters reasons for placing the author of Acts among the historians of the first rank."

    Page 238:

    "The narrative never makes a false step amid all the many details, as the scene changes from city to city."

    Page 240:

    "Every minute fact stated in Acts has its own significance."

    Pages 21, 22:

    "The characterization of Paul in Acts is so detailed and individualized as to prove the author's personal acquaintance. Moreover, the Paul of Acts is the Paul that appears to us in his own letters, in his ways and his thoughts, in his educated tone of polished courtesy, in his quick and vehement temper, in the extraordinary versatility and adaptability that made him at home in every society, moving at ease in all surroundings, and everywhere the centre of interest, whether he is the Socratic dialectician in the agora of Athens, or the rhetorician in its university, or conversing with kings and proconsuls, or advising in the council on shipboard, or cheering a broken-spirited crew to make one more effort for life. Wherever Paul is, no one present has eyes for any but him."

  • The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament. 1914.

    Introduction, p. v:

    "My aim. . . is to show through the examination, word by word and phrase by phrase, of a few passages which have been exposed to hostile criticism, that the New Testament is unique in the compactness, the lucidity, the pregnancy, and the vivid truthfulness of its expression. That it is not the character of one or two only of the books that compose the New Testament; it belongs in different ways to all alike."

    Page 262: "Wherever the present writer followed Luke's authority absolutely, . . . he was right down to the last detail."

    "From Strauss to Schmiedel, what a series of distinguished and famous scholars have blindly assumed that their inability to estimate evidence correctly was the final and sure criterion of truth."

    Page 259:

    "Such progress as the present writer has been enabled to make in discovery is largely due to the early appreciation of the fact that Luke is a safe guide."


Rousseau, Jean Jacques (June 28, 1712–July 2, 1778) -- Genevan philosopher

    From his Émile ou de L'Education, livre iv. (Profession de Foi du Vicaire Savoyard), Œuvres complètes. Paris, 1839, tome iii. pp. 365-367. Project Gutenberg English-language edition. Also The Miscellaneous Works of Mr. J. J. Rousseau, Volume 3. Printed for T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, 1767.

    I will confess to you, that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the gospel has its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers, with all their pomp of diction, how mean, how contemptible, are they, compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book, at once so simple and so sublime, should be merely the work of man? Is it possible that the sacred personage whose history it contains should be himself a mere man? Do we find that he assumed the tone of an enthusiast or ambitious sectary? What sweetness, what purity, in his manner! What an affecting gracefulness in his instructions! What sublimity in his maxims! What profound wisdom in his discourses! What presence of mind, what subtlety, what fitness, in his replies! How great the command over his passions! Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so live and so die, without weakness, and without ostentation? When Plato describes his imaginary righteous man, loaded with all the punishments of guilt, yet meriting the highest rewards of virtue, he describes exactly the character of Jesus Christ: the resemblance is so striking, that all the Church Fathers perceived it. What prepossession, what blindness, must it be to compare the son of Sophroniscus to the son of Mary! What an infinite disproportion there is between them! Socrates, dying without pain or ignominy, easily supported his character to the last; and, if this easy death had not crowned his life, it might have been doubted whether Socrates, with all his wisdom, was any thing more than a mere sophist. He invented, it is said, the theory of ethics. Others, however, had before put them into practice: he had only to say, therefore, what they had done, and to reduce their examples to precepts. Aristides had been just before Socrates defined justice. Leonidas had given up his life for his country before Socrates declared patriotism to be a duty. The Spartans were a sober people before Socrates recommended sobriety. Before he had even defined virtue, Greece abounded in virtuous men. But where could Jesus learn, among his cotemporaries, that pure and sublime morality of which he only had given us both precept and example? The greatest wisdom was made known among the most bigoted fanaticism; and the simplicity of the most heroic virtues did honor to the vilest people on earth. The death of Socrates, peacefully philosophizing among friends, appears the most agreeable that one could wish: that of Jesus, expiring in agonies, abused, insulted, and accused by a whole nation, is the most horrible that one could fear. Socrates, indeed, in receiving the cup of poison, blessed the weeping executioner who administered it; but Jesus, amidst excruciating tortures, prayed for his merciless tormentors.

    Yes, if the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus are those of a God. Shall we suppose the evangelical history a mere fiction? Indeed, my friend, it bears no marks of fiction. On the contrary, the history of Socrates, which no one presumes to doubt, is not so well attested as that of Jesus Christ. Such a supposition, in fact, only shifts the difficulty without obviating it: it is more inconceivable that a number of persons should agree to write such a history, than that one should furnish the subject of it. The Jewish authors were incapable of the diction, and strangers to the morality contained in the gospel. The marks of its truth are so striking and inimitable, that the inventor would be a more astonishing character than the hero. With all this, the same gospel is full of incredible things which are repugnant to reason, and which it is impossible for a sensible man to conceive and to admit. What shall we do in the midst of all these contradictions? We should be always modest and circumspect, my child; respect in silence what we can neither reject nor understand; and humble ourselves before that great Being who alone knows the truth."

  • Read Schaff's essay on Jean Jacques Rousseau here which includes his comments in the original French.

Salviander, Sarah (Fl. 21st century) -- Research scientist in astronomy and astrophysics.
  • Website.
  • My Testimony. Posted May 11, 2015.

    ... Wandering through a bookstore one day, I saw a book called The Science of God by Gerald Schroeder. I was intrigued by the title, but something else compelled me to read it. Maybe it was the loneliness, and I was longing for a deeper connection with God. All I know is that what I read changed my life forever.

    Dr. Schroeder is a unique individual—he is an MIT-trained physicist and also an applied theologian. He understands modern science, has read the ancient and medieval biblical commentaries, and is capable of translating the Old Testament from the ancient Hebrew. He was thus able to give a scientific analysis of Genesis 1. His work proved to me that Genesis 1 was scientifically sound, and not just a "silly myth" as atheists believed. I realized that, remarkably, the Bible and science agree completely. (If you’re interested in the details of this, you can either go through my slideshow here or read Dr. Schroeder’s book.)

    Schroeder’s great work convinced me that Genesis is the inspired word of God. But something told me to keep going. If Genesis is literally true, then why not the Gospels, too? I read the Gospels, and found the person of Jesus Christ to be extremely compelling. I felt as Einstein did when he said he was "enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene." And yet I struggled, because I did not feel one hundred percent convinced of the Gospels in my heart. I knew of the historical evidence for their truth. And, of course, I knew the Bible was reliable because of Genesis. Intellectually, I knew the Bible to be true, and as a person of intellect, I had to accept it as truth, even if I didn’t feel it. That’s what faith is. As C. S. Lewis said, it is accepting something you know to be true in spite of your emotions. So, I converted. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior.


Strobel, Lee (January 25, 1952 - ) -- Journalist. Author.
  • Interview with Lee Strobel.

    LS: Both The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith retrace and expand upon my own personal journey from atheism to Christianity. At the time of my original investigation into these issues, I was a skeptic. I explored not only Christianity, but other faith systems in my quest for answers. Eventually, I was convinced by the evidence that Christianity is true. Given that background, it's hard to argue that I was merely seeking to shore up pre-conceived notions. Even though I was a Christian when I wrote the books, I was writing from the mindset of someone who had been an authentic skeptic and yet had found a credible basis for faith in Jesus.

    Zondervan: What conclusion did you reach after your research for The Case for Christ?

    LS: Essentially, I concluded that based on the cumulative weight of the evidence, it would require more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to embrace Jesus as being God's unique Son!


Veith, Walter J. (Born January 25, 1952) -- Zoologist. Chemist. Ecophysiologist. Professor and chair of the Zoology Department, University of the Western Cape
  • Carl Wieland and Jonathan Sarfati. Professing creation; A distinguished zoologist 'tells it like it is' about evolution.

    "It's a long story, but I was an evolutionist, and an atheist. I started to get interested in the subject of Biblical prophecy--for example, prophecies in the book of Daniel, chapter two. They were written long before the events portrayed there, and the kingdoms came in succession just as it says. And the Dead Sea Scrolls seemed to confirm the authenticity and antiquity of the Book of Daniel. So I started to get interested in the rest of Scripture, including Genesis."

  • Veith's Video testimony.

    Testimony also in In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation, edited by John F. Ashton, Ph.D. Master Books, Inc., Green Forest, AR, 2001. ISBN 0-89051-341-4.


Wallace, Jim Warner (Fl. 21st Century) -- Los Angeles Homicide Detective
  • Testimony, Stand to Reason.

    I was an atheist for 35 years. I was passionate in my opposition to Christianity, and I enjoyed debating my Christian friends. I seldom found them to be prepared to defend what they believed. I became a Police Officer and eventually advanced to Detective; I spent twelve years working cold-case homicides. Along the way, I developed a healthy respect for the role of evidence in discerning truth, and my profession gave me ample opportunity to press into practice what I learned about the nature and power of evidence. Throughout all of this, I remained an "angry atheist," hostile to Christianity and largely dismissive of Christians.

    But I have to admit that I never took the time to examine the evidence for the Christian Worldview without the bias and presupposition of naturalism. I never gave the case for Christianity a fair shake. When I finally examined the evidence fairly using the tools I learned as a detective, I found it difficult to deny, especially if I hoped to retain my respect for the way evidence is utilized to determine truth. I found the evidence for Christianity to be as convincing as any cold case I'd ever investigated.


Webster, Noah (October 16, 1758 - May 28, 1843) -- American lexicographer
  • Letter to Thomas Dawes, December 20, 1908. Webster Papers, New York Public Library, Box 1.

    ... Being educated in a religious family, under pious parents, I had, in early life some religious impressions, but being too young to understand fully the doctrines of the Christian religion and falling into vicious company at college, I lost those impressions and contracted a habit of using profane language. This habit however was not of many years duration—profaneness appeared to me then as it now does, a vice without the apology which some other vices find in human propensities, and as unworthy of a gentleman as it is improper for a christian.

    I rec’d my first degree in Sept. 1778, at a time when our country was impoverished by war, and when few encouragements offered to induce young men to enter into professional employments. Having neither property nor powerful friends to aid me, and being utterly unacquainted with the world, I knew not what business to attempt nor by what way to obtain subsistence. Being set afloat in the world at the inexperienced age of 20, without a father’s aid which had before supported me, my mind was embarrassed with solicitude, and overwhelmed with gloomy apprehensions. In this situation I read Johnson’s Rambler, with unusual interest and with a visible effect upon my moral opinions, for when I closed the last volume, I formed a firm resolution to pursue a course of virtue through life, and to perform all moral and social duties with scrupulous exactness; a resolution which I have endeavored to maintain, though doubtless not without many failures. I now perceive that I ought to have read my Bible first, but I followed the common mode of reading, and fell into the common mistake of attending to the duties which man owes to man, before I had learned the duties which we all owe to our Creator and Redeemer.

    For a number of years just past, I have been more and more impressed with the importance of regulating my conduct by the precepts of Christianity. Of the being and attributes of God I have never entertained a doubt, and my studies as well as frequent contemplations on the works of nature have led my mind to most sublime views of his character and perfections. These views produced their natural effect of inspiring my mind with the highest admiration and reverence, mingled with gratitude; and for some years past, I have rarely cast my eyes to heaven or plucked the fruit of my garden without feeling emotions of gratitude and adoration. ...

  • The Peculiar Doctrines of the Gospel Explained and Defended. Text-searchable here with introduction. Published in The Panoplist and Missionary Magazine.

    But let us examine this scheme of religion on other grounds. It is the principle of our religion, and of all true religion, that there is a God of infinite perfection, who is the Author of whatever has been created. This Being is man’s Creator and, of course, his sovereign Ruler; and if his Sovereign Ruler, He has a right to give laws to man for his government. From God’s sovereignty, or his character as Creator and Governor of the universe, results necessarily his right to the supreme reverence of all the rational beings he has created; and from this sovereignty, and from the perfection of His nature, as well as from His benevolence to man, in creating him, and supplying him with all the means of happiness, results God’s right to man’s highest love and gratitude. For nothing is more obvious than that supreme excellence is entitled to the first place in our esteem. Our first class of duties then respects our Maker, our Preserver, our Benefactor, and Redeemer. These duties, I apprehend, are dictated by reason and natural religion, as well as commanded in the Scriptures. They result necessarily from our relation to the Supreme Being, as the head of the universe.

    In the next place, men are made for society. Our natural propensities lead us to associate with each other; and society is necessary to the continuation of the species, as well as to our improvement, protection, and happiness. From this association of men, and the various interests involved in it, result numerous social duties, which we comprise under the general term, morality. These constitute the second class of the duties of men. This distribution of our duties is precisely that which Moses has made in the Ten Commandments, which were originally divided and engraved on two tables. The first table contained our duties to God; the second our duties to each other; and this distribution is expressly recognized by our Savior, who declares that the first and great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all the heart, with all the soul, and with all the mind; and that the second, which is like to it, is to love our neighbor as ourselves.


Wilson, Andrew Norman (Born October 27, 1950) -- Biographer and novelist
  • Religion of hatred: Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes ruling Britain who sneer at Christianity. Daily Mail. Posted April 11, 2009.

    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.

    ... Easter does not answer such questions by clever-clever logic. Nor is it irrational. On the contrary, it meets our reason and our hearts together, for it addresses the whole person.

    In the past, I have questioned its veracity and suggested that it should not be taken literally. But the more I read the Easter story, the better it seems to fit and apply to the human condition. That, too, is why I now believe in it.


Wood, David (fl. 21st Century) -- Philosopher

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