Do not judge and you will not be judged.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and it will be given to you.
Luke 6: 37-38

22 May 2016

An atheist academic becomes Christian

Holly Ordway is the Chair of the Department of Apologetics and Director of the MA in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University
I heard about Holly's story before we moved to France but I ran out of time. Anyway, here is her moving testimony.
As a teenager, Holly Ordway was quite concerned with meaning, belonging and issues of right and wrong, but it never occurred to her to seek out any answers in religion or theology. By the time she was in college, she had dismissed religion entirely, and from there, transitioned into a hard-core atheist as an adult:

“I was convinced that there was no God (or any spiritual reality). I did not believe that I had a soul; I thought I was just an intelligent animal, and that when I died, my consciousness would simply blink out. I thought that there was no ultimate meaning in life, and that people who believed in any form of God were seriously self-deluded.
She pursued and obtained her PhD in literature from UMass-Amherst. She obtained a professorship teaching English literature and composition at Mira Costa College in California, passing on her passion for literature and writing to the next generation.
“The Christian writers did more than pique my interest as to the meaning of ‘faith’. Over the years, reading works like the Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and Hopkins’ poetry had given me a glimpse of a different way of seeing the world. It was a vision of the world that was richly meaningful and beautiful, and that also made sense of both the joy and sorrow, the light and dark that I could see and experience. My atheist view of the world was, in comparison, narrow and flat; it could not explain why I was moved by beauty and cared about truth. The Christian claim might not be true, I thought to myself, but it was had depth to it that was worth investigating.”
This investigation was spurred on by her fencing coach, a man whom Ordway greatly respected. She had been working with this caring, patient and very intelligent man for over a year when she discovered, to her surprise, that he was a Christian. She had always thought of Christians as pushy and thoughtless, and realized that this man did not fit her preconceptions at all. She felt safe in asking him questions about Christian beliefs.

She also expanded her reading into Christian works, starting with C.S. Lewis. Her reading included Mere Christianity, Does God Exist, In Defense of Miracles, and The Resurrection of the Son of God.
Ordway became a Christian in 2007. Since then she has gone back to graduate school to study Christian apologetics, receiving her second MA from Biola University.

There were many pieces of evidence that all fit together to make a convincing case for the Resurrection; I’ll mention just a couple here. One of them is the behavior of the disciples before and after the Resurrection. The Gospel accounts do not portray their behavior after the Crucifixion in a particularly flattering light. Even though Jesus had predicted his own resurrection, the disciples gave up and went away, assuming that Jesus was a failed messiah. If the disciples had made up the Resurrection story afterwards, why would they have included details that made them look disloyal and cowardly? My academic studies in literature allowed me to recognize that the Gospels were written as history, not myth or parable, and that there hadn’t been enough time for a legend to form. It began to seem like the best explanation for all these events being recounted this way, was that they really happened.

This is her answer to BRANDON's question Perhaps the key hinge of your conversion was when you came to believe in the historical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. What evidence led you to that conclusion?

HOLLY: One of the first steps to that conclusion was my realization that miracles are both possible and rational. Since I had come to believe that there is a transcendent Creator who is the source of morality, order, and rationality, then it made sense that the physical world was orderly and comprehensible, with natural causes operating in a regular way, but also that there was a supernatural dimension of reality. Just as I could allow nature to take its course in a garden, or I could act to alter the course of ‘natural’ events by planting a tree or pulling up a seedling, it was rational to suppose that the Creator could work with natural causes or could act directly, intervening in history. So I was willing to consider at least the possibility that a particular miracle could have happened: the Resurrection.
There were many pieces of evidence that all fit together to make a convincing case for the Resurrection; I’ll mention just a couple here. One of them is the behavior of the disciples before and after the Resurrection. The Gospel accounts do not portray their behavior after the Crucifixion in a particularly flattering light. Even though Jesus had predicted his own resurrection, the disciples gave up and went away, assuming that Jesus was a failed messiah. If the disciples had made up the Resurrection story afterwards, why would they have included details that made them look disloyal and cowardly? My academic studies in literature allowed me to recognize that the Gospels were written as history, not myth or parable, and that there hadn’t been enough time for a legend to form. It began to seem like the best explanation for all these events being recounted this way, was that they really happened.
Then, after the Resurrection, there’s a complete turn-around in their behavior, and they become bold proclaimers of the Risen Lord. There were plenty of words that people in ancient times could have used to describe visions or sightings of ghosts, and indeed, such language would have gotten them in much less trouble! But they spoke of a Jesus who was alive, bodily resurrected, and in short order were willing to die for that claim.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence for the Resurrection, though, was the Church itself. If I supposed that the Church had invented the Resurrection to explain its own worship of Jesus, I had to ask, how did that worship arise in the first place? If the Church was not the result of a miracle, it was itself a miracle.
Source: click here and there

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I was born in France and brought up as a catholic. After the traumatic divorce of my parents, I moved to England and became a lost sheep. However I was convinced that I was 'a good person' until I fell in a muddy pit in July 2005 after taking decisions without seeking God's Word for guidance.  I cried out to the Lord and He heard me. I was rescued and redeemed by Jesus-Christ my saviour. He has turned my life around. 
I live blissfully with my husband Steven,  a c.o.e. vicar, near Stafford (UK). We are the proud parents of three loving daughters, I am also a step-mum, I have an amazing family including a step mum, two brothers and two sister and a dear sister-in-law and her children and grand-children, lots of cousins and eleven nephews and nieces. We live near Stafford in the UK.