A. N. Wilson has been there, seen that, believed this, and rejected that. The British author, now in his sixties, has had an on, off, and on again relationship with Christianity. As a young man, he pursued theological training and potential ordination in the Church of England, but by the late 1980s he was openly atheist, writing a 50-page booklet, Against Religion (1991), that complained of the “intolerance”, “authoritarianism” and “spiritual bullying” of the papacy. (Many years ago, in the 1990s, I read his book on the Apostle Paul, and thought it was both well-written and quite wrongheaded in many key respects.) But, after three decades of skepticism, Wilson announced in 2009 that he had returned to Christianity, a decision that he discussed at length in this essay in The Mail.
For much of my life, I, too, have been one of those who did not believe. It was in my young manhood that I began to wonder how much of the Easter story I accepted, and in my 30s I lost any religious belief whatsoever.
Like many people who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been ‘conned’ by such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.
Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity?
Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.