During my college years, I had a long struggle with my faith. At many times and for extended periods, I felt that I’d had none. Other times, I attempted to regain it despite my repeated inability to do so. Through it all, I wrestled, knowing that the living faith of my youth was powerful and meaningful yet without an ability to translate it into a new world on my own and outside my home.
Oddly, perhaps, it was through reading Albert Camus, C.S. Lewis, and then more Albert Camus (a French existentialist writer and an atheist) that brought me back to faith.Christianity Today has just published my account of Camus’s influence on me, bringing me back to the faith. It begins:
I became a Christian again during my last year of college. After years of wrestling with God and doubting his existence, I had an intense, spiritual epiphany that seemed to change my life instantly. The following day, though it sounds hokey to say so, the grass looked greener, the sky bluer. Ordering coffee that day from a complete stranger, I nearly burst into tears. This is another child of God! I thought to myself. What a shame I’m handing her cash instead of praising God with her.
That moment was unlike any I’ve ever since experienced. Suddenly, and without words, I knew that God had said to me, I AM. Nothing more, just I AM. With those words, God told me that he cared enough about me to reveal just this little bit about himself. I AM. It answered none of my questions and gave no explanation for God’s five-year absence in my life. But those words were enough. I could say with Peter, “You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
There were a number of people through whom God worked before that revelation. Yet the biggest influence on my spiritual journey was the novels and philosophy of Albert Camus, a French existentialist of the 1940s and ’50s—and an atheist. C. S. Lewis warned, “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” Camus should have been safe territory for me, but as I like to say now, I was saved by an atheist. Read the whole thing at Christianity Today’s website.