an atheist misses Jesus

I found this fascinating story of an evangelist turned atheist, and his end-of-life perspective on Jesus.

In the late 1940s, Charles Templeton was a close friend and preaching associate of Billy Graham. He effectively preached the gospel to large crowds in major arenas. However, intellectual doubts began to nag at him. He questioned the truth of Scripture and other core Christian beliefs. He finally abandoned his faith and made an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Billy to do the same. He felt sorry for Billy and commented, “He committed intellectual suicide by closing his mind.” Templeton resigned from the ministry and became a novelist and news commentator. He also wrote a critique of the Christian faith, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith.

Journalist Lee Strobel interviewed him for his book, The Case for Faith. Templeton was 83 and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He revealed some of the reasons he left the faith:

I started considering the plagues that sweep across parts of the planet and indiscriminately kill—more often than not, painfully—all kinds of people, the ordinary, the decent, and the rotten. And it just became crystal clear to me that it is not possible for an intelligent person to believe that there is a deity who loves.

Lee Strobel then asked him about Jesus and was surprised at the response. Templeton believed Jesus lived but never really considered himself to be God:

He was the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life or in my readings. He’s the most important thing in my life. I know it may sound strange, but I have to say I adore him! Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus. He is the most important human being who has ever existed. And if I may put it this way, I miss Him.

Templeton’s eyes filled with tears and he wept freely. He refused to say more.

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One Response

  1. How very touching that in the end he wept over Jesus and how much he missed Him, oh that the head would listen to the heart and be at peace.

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