What the atheist TV presenter said was not particularly new (or even a logical argument), but the combination of celebrity and visceral emotion caught the imagination of many.
I personally thrive on the intellectual arguments for and against Christianity. There have been some excellent apologetic rejoinders to Fry’s position. See, for instance, Vince Vitale’s response this month.
But arguments alone will not reach those whose problem with Christianity is primarily emotional. We are all a mixture of logic and emotion, and most of us ‘feel’ the truth of Christianity as much as we rationally ‘know’ it. For that reason, we need to learn the art of telling the story of the gospel – of which Jesus was the master storyteller – as much as defending it.
When I recently recorded my own video response to Fry (available at premierchristianity.com/blog), rather than giving five bulletproof arguments I chose to tell a story written by one of his literary heroes, Oscar Wilde.
Wilde’s children’s story The Selfish Giant tells of a garden where children used to play, but because of the selfishness of the giant who lives there, it is always winter and never spring. After spending years in bitter solitude, the giant one day sees a child trying to climb a tree. His heart thaws and he lifts the child into the branches, prompting the tree to burst into bloom. Spring returns, the children come back out to play, but the giant doesn’t see the child again until he is an old man.
One day he sees the child beneath the tree once more and rushes to him. But the giant’s joy turns to anger when he sees nail prints in the child’s hands and feet.
‘Who hath dared to wound thee?’ he demands. The child replies: ‘But these are the wounds of Love...You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.’
It’s a simple story, but one that beautifully captures the heart of the Easter story: a God who enters our winter world as a child and, on a tree, with nailscarred hands and feet, brings the spring so that we too may join him in his own garden one day.
That’s not an argument for God, but it does tell a very different story about Him from the one told by Fry. This Easter I hope that you too will know – with both your head and your heart – the truth of who God is. Maybe you will even have the courage to share it with the nearest equivalent to Stephen Fry in your world.