I do not often write personal posts, and this is one of the few, and it is not about me but about a friend whom I shall call R. R is one of the brightest men I know. He served his country in the armed forces for some years before moving into civilian life and taking a PhD, after which he entered the academic world where his life-experience put him, it would be fair to say, somewhat at odds with the usual ways in which academics do things. R liked to see results, he liked to be know why we were doing things and wanted to be able to calibrate the results; where was the data? Intellectually he was entirely untouched by groupthink. In a collectivist profession, he was an individualist. In the end he tired of it and went to do other things with his life. This was, I thought, academic life’s loss. On a personal level, because it meant I saw less of him, I was upset; though from his point of view, I could see, entirely, why he’d done it.
One of the areas where we had respectful disagreement (R was a gentleman to the core and had no other sort of disagreement) was my Christianity. He could see, historically, what Christianity had contributed to the history of Western Europe and to its value system, but beyond that, it eluded him. He was not an atheist who felt any need to attack or undermine Christianity, or who felt hostility toward it; but nor could he see why anyone might be a Christian.
Imagine, then, my surprise, a few days ago, to receive from him an email telling me that he had converted to Christianity and was now, with his family (a wonderful wife and two marvellous children) attending an Evangelical Alliance Church near to where they live. We have not, yet, had an opportunity to talk about this, but he thanked me, inter alia for recommending this site, and says he has found it very useful as a new Christian. My delight is threefold. R is simply one of the best men I know, a man of searing integrity who would rather suffer financial and personal loss than compromise his integrity. He is also a man who has his own ‘thorn’ as St Paul called his own ailment. So that He should have found Christ is simply a source of huge pleasure. It has been transformational, he says, and there seems to me a rightness in that. It is right that such a man should, in the encounter with Christ, find his world transformed. And that thought that this place has been useful to him, is all the justification I ever needed to keep running it.
So, R, welcome, and I know I speak for all the shades of Christian witness present here, in expressing joy that you have passed from darkness into light. My pleasure for you and your family is unbounded, my old friend, and I look forward to our being able to expand our conversations into this new area for us.