A couple centuries ago, two Englishmen named West and Lyttleton tried something as trendy then, in the so-called age of rationalism, as it is today in the so-called age of post-modernism. They set out to discredit Christianity.
They painted bulls-eyes on two major events recorded in the New Testament: the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the miraculous conversion of St. Paul. If they could disprove these two events, then the entire New Testament, and Christianity with it, would collapse.
West was to play myth-buster on the resurrection of Christ. Lyttleton was to debunk the conversion of St. Paul. The two “brainiacs” went their ways and gave it their best shot. Eventually they got together to compare notes.
First one, then the other, sheepishly confessed that he had changed his view entirely. Each was compelled to defend the Biblical record rather than attack it. Lyttleton even went on to write a defense of the Christian faith entitled, Observations On The Conversion Of St. Paul.
Similar assaults have been made on the conversion of St. Paul over the years, but like the attacks on Christ’s resurrection, these arrogant tactics have, as the poet Byron put it, “melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.” Each generation’s mocking magazine articles or TV documentaries of doubt are soon forgotten on the scrap heap of history. The Bible remains.
But you can see, can’t you, why the anti-Christian snipers take aim at Paul’s conversion? Discredit the risen Christ’s glorious appearance to Paul, and you discredit Paul himself as an inspired apostle. Do that and you discredit the 13 books of the New Testament which he wrote.
We need no other gospel, no new and improved gospel, no modernized, entertaining, self-help gospel. We need to believe this genuine gospel we already have. It lies open in our hands, set down by the breath of God. And as those two Englishmen discovered long ago, it has not lost its ancient touch nor saving power, this “Book of Books” about which the poet wrote:
Last eve I passed beside the blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime.
And looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word –
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon.
But though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.