An Agnostic Who Moves Towards Belief

John C. Rankin

The reality of how an indoctrinated religion drives people away is made known to me over and over in people I meet. One example occurred in a January, 1997 Mars Hill Forum I had in a Unitarian Church in Montclair, New Jersey. My guest was Dr. Robert Price, a former evangelical and graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, who has boomeranged into a “non-theistic humanism,” as he terms it. During the Q & A period, a man introduced himself to me as a “confirmed agnostic,” and I enjoyed noting how I was unaware that agnostics now had confirmation services. We both chuckled, and he proceeded with some questions concerning archeological evidences. After the forum, he approached me and in the process told me how he had been kicked out of Methodist Sunday School as a young boy because he “asked too many questions.”

He also told me about many “born-again” people he knew (and I am glad to say that I am born again, just as Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3). These were people he said who do not entertain challenging questions, and he promised that the next time I was in town speaking, he would bring them along, “kicking and screaming” if need be. Or something to that effect. Imagine that – a confirmed agnostic wanting Christians to hear a Christian preacher so they can become more Christian. This is the reversal of the reversal, and the few and modest tastes I have of it in situations like these only increase my expectation of how God’s goodness can penetrate into a broken world. At the end of our conversation, this “confirmed agnostic” stepped back from his confirmation status, and said that he would like to believe in God, and maybe in a way he did ….


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House of Lords 17 October 2017

Text of John Rankin’s address on the occasion of the 500th annive5rsary of the Reformation.