Friday, June 29, 2007

Jonathon Edwards

I'm naturally upset that Jonathon Edwards, former Olympic Triple Jump gold medal winner and well-known Christian, should be expressing doubt about his faith. However, I'm not convinced the rejection of Christianity is as unequivocal as the interviewer for the Times Online suggests.

Also, I have to say that if the following really represents the heart of his intellectual crisis, then you have to wonder what exactly was the foundation of his faith.
Edwards says. “During my documentary on St Paul, some experts raised the possibility that his spectacular conversion on the road to Damascus might have been caused by an epileptic fit. It made me realise that I had taken things for granted that were taught to me as a child without subjecting them to any kind of analysis. When you think about it rationally, it does seem incredibly improbable that there is a God.”
Firstly, think about what happened at the time of Paul's conversion. From seeking to wipe out the proto-church, Paul went through his own crisis of faith, which lasted several years (though within days, he was arguing that Jesus was the promised Messiah), following which he travelled round the Roman empire, planting churches and intellectually challenging the prevailing worldviews. In this context, describing what happened to Paul as "an epileptic fit" is a bit like describing the start of the universe as "a big bang" - litotes, if ever I came across it.

But then, suppose we were to observe what happened to Paul today and conclude that it was an epileptic fit. If there is a God like that described in the Bible, doesn't he have authority over such things? Doesn't he oversee the circumstances in which these things happen?

I can't see why the possibility that the vehicle used by God was an epileptic fit is any grounds for a person to lose confidence in what the Bible says. I'm sorry that Edwards should have done so, and I hope to be more faithful in praying for him now than I was when he was the Christian that the media loved.