The Ivy-League Atheist…
Philosophically, God just doesn’t make sense.
who came to Manhattan’s Redeemer … Church¹.
[To do that, use the DOOR.]
Kelly was an Ivy League atheist. As a twelve-year-old Kelly watched her grandfather die of cancer and her two-year-old sister undergo surgery, chemo, and radiation therapy for a brain tumor. By the time she was an undergraduate at Columbia, she had lost hope that life had any meaning to it. Several of her Christian friends at college spoke to her of their faith, but she was “rocky soil for the seeds” of their testimonies. However, when her sister had a stroke and was paralyzed at the age of fourteen, it moved her not to give up on God but to begin more deliberate searching.
By then she was living and working in the city. She met her future husband, Kevin, also a Columbia grad and an atheist, who was working on Wall Street with J.P. Morgan. Their doubts about God were very stubborn, and yet they had doubts about their doubts, and so they began attending Redeemer. Their pilgrimage toward faith was slow and painstaking. One of the things that kept them on the trail, however, was the large number of believing Christians they met that were every bit as sophisticated and smart as anyone else in the city.
Finally they were not only convinced of Christianity’s intellectual credibility, but were attracted by its vision for life. Kelly wrote, “As an atheist I thought I lived a moral, community-oriented, concerned-with-social-justice kind of life, but Christianity had an even higher standard–down to our thoughts and the state of our hearts. I accepted God’s forgiveness and invited him into my life. Kevin wrote, “While sitting in a coffee shop reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I put down the book and wrote in my notebook ‘the evidence surrounding the claims of Christianity is simply overwhelming.’ I realized that my achievements were ultimately unsatisfying, the approval of man is fleeting, that a carpe diem lived solely for adventure is just a form of narcissism and idolatry. And so I became a believer in Christ.”
¹Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Dutton, 2008, Kindle version). Keller, educated at Bucknell, Gordon-Conwell, and Westminster Theological Seminary and a pastor from Hopewell, Virginia, felt called to go to Manhattan to start a church in 1989. As of 2008, his church, Redeemer Presbyterian, has nearly 6000 weekly attendees at five services, as well as a “host” of daughter churches, and is planting churches in large cities throughout the world. June’s story is cited verbatim from Keller’s book.