There was an eye-popping article in the Easter Saturday edition of the Daily Mail by the brilliant writer, A N Wilson. Eye-popping because it is written by a man who had lost his faith and wrote about his atheism with ascerbic clarity. He used to be known as ‘Waspy’ in some circles because his literary barbs stung. He went to New College, Oxford (B.A., 1972; M.A., 1976), began a teaching career, and spent a year training for the priesthood before losing his faith and concentrating on writing. In 1992 he published a biography of Jesus, aiming to show that Jesus had been no more than a failed prophet.
Also around at the time was writer and broadcaster Bernard Levin, described by The Times as ‘the most famous journalist of his day’. He wrote a long article in The Times in protest against Wilson’s book, saying that he loved the man Jesus Christ, and no, he wasn’t a Christian, and that ‘Mr A N Wilson, the well-known person, had no business arsing about and squeaking on the subject of Jesus.’ Bernard Levin died in 2004, so didn’t see Andrew Wilson’s return to faith in 2009.
In his double-page article in the Easter Saturday’s Daily Mail Andrew Wilson said that with every year that passes his faith becomes simpler and clearer. He now sees that ‘Christianity is a bulwark against the liberal elites who believe only in the modish creed of the day,’ remarking that ‘sadly, educated people in the West have all but accepted that only stupid people actually believe in Christianity…’ rather than accept truths which were regarded as self-evident by such great minds as St Augustine, Martin Luther, the great 19th century theologian John Henry Newman, or the scholar and author CS Lewis. He could have also mentioned J S Bach, Dostoevsky, TS Eliot, Samuel Johnson, Francis Bacon, John Polkinghorne, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton. There are many more, of course.
Bernard Levin is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest sentence ever to appear in a newspaper – 1,667 words.
But in his Easter Essay, Andrew Wilson has had the last word.