October 14, 2019 - Albert Camus and the Gospel

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

One of the most famous writers of the twentieth century was Frenchman Albert Camus (1913-1960). And one of his most famous passages went like this:

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”

Camus wasn’t advocating suicide. He was just expressing the difficult question: is a life without meaning worth living? As an atheist, Camus just struggled to know how to live a life that, ultimately, ended in eternal death.

But that wasn’t the end of the story with Albert Camus. Years ago, an American pastor, Howard Mumma, preaching in an American church in Paris, had a visitor who, eventually, had Bible studies with the pastor, but in secret. No one could know. The visitor had told him, “The reason I have been coming to church is because I am seeking. I’m almost on a pilgrimage -- seeking something to fill the void that I am experiencing -- and no one else knows.”

One day his student asked him about baptism.

“Howard,” he asked, “do you perform baptisms?”

When he said that he did, the student asked, “What is the significance of this rite?” After the pastor explained, much to his thrilled amazement, the man said, “Howard, I am ready. I want this. This is what I want to commit my life to."

The man?

At that time the world’s most well-known atheist, Albert Camus.

Albert Camus wanting baptism? That would be like the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan wanting to convert to Judaism. And yet those who have read Camus could see, in his writing, that he was, indeed, a seeker; a searcher. And, thus, the same God who had said in antiquity, “You shall seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13), fulfilled that promise, thousands of years later, in amazingly enough, Albert Camus.

Unfortunately, before he could be baptized, Albert Camus died, but had he, a sinner, already given his heart to Jesus, then Albert Camus would have known the reality of what God offers us all—the gift of salvation.

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