The stunning confession of an atheist

Published 7:50 pm Friday, April 19, 2019

As we listen to the world’s greatest story over the next few days, we fully expect those men and women who make their way to the tomb on that Easter morning to believe in Jesus with all their hearts. 

Not only that, we rightfully expect that 98 percent of the state of Georgia — if not more — will confess very freely their faith in the Lord this Sunday.

But here’s something we do not expect, and it’s a thought that I think will enhance your worship on this special Sunday morning. We do not expect a self-proclaimed infidel to make a curious, jaw-dropping confession for the world to hear about our Lord. It may fall a tad short of the mark, but the confession is stunning, nonetheless. I think you’ll agree.

I revisited this account a couple of years ago as the amazin’ blonde and I took off down the runway at the Atlanta airport. I reached for a book as soon as we boarded the plane, one that I carry with me on every trip I take. It is Lee Stroebel’s “The Case For Faith.”

As I read, I came to a section early in the book where Stroebel — a journalist who was once an infidel — interviews a current atheist whose path in life curiously mirrored Stroebel’s own. Strobel began an atheist and converted to faith. Mr. Charles Templeton began an evangelical preacher and finished up an espoused atheist. Naturally, such a 180-degree turn intrigued Stroebel, and he knew that Mr. Templeton’s story would tell him a great deal about the subject of faith.

Stroebel had one question he knew he had to ask, and it wold lead into the conclusion of his interview. He says, simply, “What about Jesus?”

Without hesitation, Mr. Templeton speaks favorably of the character of the savior for a good while; but, then, suddenly — says Stroebel — “his body softened,” and he lets down his guard and opens up about the Jesus he once served. He says that Jesus was a moral genius, that he was the wisest of all men, and, in a stunning admission, that he was “the greatest human being who has ever lived.”

Such praise for one in whom Templeton no longer believes shocks Stroebel, and he responds by saying that it sounds to him as if Templeton really cares about the Lord.

“Well, yes,” Templeton replies, “he’s the most important thing in my life,” and adds, honestly: “I adore him.”

Stroebel waits quietly as Templeton gathers his thoughts. He slows down at this point, his voice begins to crack, and, in a powerful admission, he says, “I miss him.”   

At that, tears begin to flood down the face of the converted-atheist and he turns his head away, shoulders bobbing as he wept.

Mr. Templeton goes no further,  but I know the words that echoed through Stroebel’s head.

“I miss him.” Surely, it the greatest confession an atheist has ever made.

Oh, it falls short of “I will serve him.” That, we regret — but it bolts out the thunderous truth that Jesus is the most sublime character in all the world’s history, even without a belief in his powerful resurrection that Easter morning.

We will not be surprised on this Sunday as we hear of the humble faith of Mary Magdalene, John and Peter. But, we will have to smile at the thought that the blessedness that convinces those disciples of Jesus’ genuineness is the same blessedness that grips even a sad unbeliever.