Chain of Proof

Teena Myers

 Pamela’s family attended the Catholic Church but remained detached from its activities. She loved the mystery of a mass spoken in Latin, the rituals, the incense, and the candles. When she was in the fourth grade, her family moved to a small town in south Louisiana, where the Episcopal Church became the center of their lives. Pamela studied the Bible in Sunday school, sang in the choir, and most of her friends attended the church’s youth group. During Christmas, they cut down pine trees and decorated the inside of the church.

Pamela smiled. “To this day, the smell of pine boughs reminds me of the time I spent in the Episcopal Church. I loved the priest. The congregation became my family. Going to church was comfortable, like being at home. I lost that when I went to college.”

Pamela moved to New Orleans to attend college. Far from the watchful eyes of her parents and priest, she was intoxicated by the lure of the big city. Swept up in the party atmosphere New Orleans is known for, Pamela flunked her first year of college. She walked off the campus with “you are not college material” ringing in her ears and looked for a job.

While working in New Orleans, Pamela found a new moral compass, Ayn Rand. Rand’s books and philosophy were powerful arguments against religion. The objectivism preached by Rand gave Pamela strong reasons to believe the Bible was little more than a collection of myths and legends. Daily newscast of wars, starvation in Africa, and irreconcilable differences in the Middle East made believing in a man who rose from the dead to bring peace on earth unreasonable. Every ancient religion had a great flood, virgin births and resurrected gods. Pamela wondered if the Bible was little more than the skillful spinning of gifted storytellers.

Unwilling to abandon her faith, she asked her childhood pastor, “How do you know the Gospel story of Jesus is true?” She hoped for a persuasive argument proving Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead. His reply, “faith based on trust,” left her disappointed and disillusioned.

As Pam searched for answers, Time magazine came out with a cover story titled “Is God Dead?” The article pushed Pamela toward agnosticism. By the end of the 1960s, Pamela returned to college to study law. She graduated Cum Laude, married an atheist, and strived to acquire the best life had to offer.

“My heart could not accept what my mind rejected,” said Pamela. “I asked God to show me something that would help me believe. When I moved to Houston to practice law, I’d often skip lunch to attend a healing service in a small Episcopal Chapel. The priest would lay his hand on my head while I closed my eyes, wanting to believe. Sometimes I cried, but God remained silent, and I descended deeper into agnosticism.”

Many years elapsed before a thought slipped into Pamela’s consciousness and refused to leave. What is the meaning of life if this is all there is? She loved practicing law, problem solving, traveling, and working with people she admired. But her success could not quiet the question that distracted her in noisy, crowded conference rooms and pursued her as she ran through airports to catch a plane. She was able to dismiss the unanswerable question until her father died. The idea that death was the end and that her father was nothing more than dust tormented her.

“One day I gazed at the bookshelves in my office filled with thick, gold embossed leather binders, each one representing months, even years, of my life. One by one, I took them down and checked the dates. Suddenly, I realized everything that I’d accomplished as a lawyer was temporary—concerns that drove these deals would abate, become outdated. Contracts would be modified, terminated, replaced with new agreements to be negotiated and written by new lawyers. Friends, partners, and clients would come and go. As Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes, ‘Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless…’”

The depiction of Mozart in the movie Amadeus made Pamela think there may be something more than this life. His childish behavior contradicted the genius of his music. She read everything that she could find about Mozart for an explanation. The superficial, scatological man she found in Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life made Pamela wonder if his talent came from a higher power.

“I also began reading books by scientists discussing their thoughts about God. After ten years of research, I decided it was probable that consciousness is not limited to our physical brain. There is more to life than what we see, feel, and touch, something that continues beyond our physical lives. But I wasn’t ready to embrace Christianity.”

Pamela turned her attention to the Bible after she read Testimony of the Evangelist by Simon Greenleaf. Greenleaf, a famous professor of law in the mid-1800s, wrote the first rules of evidence for lawyers in the United States. In Testimony of the Evangelist, Greenleaf treated Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors of the Gospels, as witnesses in a courtroom, subjecting them to the rigorous test of law. His examination of the witnesses’ testimony led to the conclusion that they were reliable. Therefore, it was reasonable to believe that the resurrection did in fact happen. Pamela also realized that now, 150 years after Greenleaf published his conclusions, a new test using current archeological and scientific discoveries might make his case stronger.

“The realization that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were witnesses, and I could use the rules of evidence to test their claims was manna from heaven. I don’t have to listen to my heart or believe what someone told me scripture said. We have four books that are unique. There’s no other religion in the world that claims to have witnesses whose stories are tied to historical events. We can tie history to the evidence found in the Gospels. One thing leads to the next, and the next, and the next, and before you know it, you have a chain of proof that makes believing the gospels reasonable. It’s easy to tell if someone is telling the truth when you have enough evidence. I decided to turn my research into a book.”

Before Pamela finished her manuscript, she returned to church and immersed herself in its community. Her atheist husband refused to attend services with her and forbade her from bringing church friends’ home. Her drive to complete her manuscript became a point of contention in their marriage. She already worked long hours as a lawyer, and her free time was increasingly consumed with writing and church activities. Their relationship deteriorated until divorce became the only option.

Pamela began writing as an agnostic but completed her manuscript as a woman of faith. She lay on a hospital bed battling cancer when an unfamiliar priest wearing the collar of the Episcopal clergy walked into the room. “I’m miserable,” she said to the priest. He smiled and handed her a publishing contract.

She looked at me and spoke with confidence. “I remember reading Ayn Rand as a young woman in the sixties. It was so powerful, but I really didn’t want to give up my faith. I wanted someone to say, ‘Faith doesn’t conflict with reason.’ My faith is solid now because I have reason to believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John told the truth.”

2 comments

  1. Great post! Her story sounds similar to Lew Wallace’s. He wasn’t a Christian when he started writing Ben-Hur, but by the time he finished writing the book he’d become a believer.

    Like

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