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How An Atheist Became a Christian Theologian

French atheist Guillaume Bignon grew up in a loving family in France. He did well in school and landed a job as a computer scientist in finance. He also excelled in sports, growing to be six feet four inches, and played volleyball in a national league, traveling the country every weekend for the games. All in all, he was happy with his life. The chances of ever hearing the gospel—let alone believing it—were incredibly slim.

While vacationing in the Caribbean he met an attractive young woman. She mentioned that she believed in God and believed that sex belonged in marriage. This was a problem to him, so his new goal in life was to disabuse his girlfriend of her beliefs which were standing in the way of sex. He started thinking: “What good reason was there to think God exists? But, if I was going to refute Christianity, I first needed to know what it claimed. So, I picked up a Bible.” He also prayed, “If there is a God, then here I am. Why don’t you go ahead and reveal yourself to me? I’m open.”

A week or two after his unbelieving prayer, one of his shoulders started to fail, without any evident injury. The doctor couldn’t see anything wrong, but he was told that he needed to rest his shoulder and to stop playing volleyball for a couple of weeks.

Against my will, I was now off the courts. With my Sundays available, I decided I would go to a church to see what Christians do when they get together. I drove to an evangelical congregation in Paris, visiting it as I would a zoo: to see exotic animals that I had read about in books but had never seen in real life.

After the service he hurried to the exit door to avoid all contact with people and the pastor. But as he reached the door a chilling blast went up from his stomach to his throat. He heard himself saying: “This is ridiculous. I have to figure this out.” So, he closed the door, and went straight to the pastor. Bignon said, “So, you believe in God?” “Yes,” the pastor said, smiling. “So how does that work out?” I asked. “We can talk about it,” he said.

After most of the people left, they went to his office and spoke for hours. Bignon bombarded the pastor with questions, who patiently and intelligently explained his worldview. Bignon writes, “My unbelieving prayers shifted to, ‘God, if you are real, you need to make it clear so I can jump in and not make a fool of myself.’”

But instead of a light from heaven, God reactivated his conscience. He remembered a particularly sinister misdeed and God brought it back to his mind in full force. Bignon writes:

I was struck with an intense guilt, and disgusted at the thought of what I had done and the lies I had covered it with. All of a sudden, the quarter dropped. That is why Jesus had to die: Me. He took upon himself the penalty that I deserved, so that in God’s justice, my sins would be forgiven—by grace as a gift, rather than by my righteous deeds or religious rituals. He died so that I may live. I placed my trust in Jesus, and asked him to forgive me. This, in short, is how God takes a French atheist and makes a Christian theologian out of him.

Editor’s Note: Guillaume Bignon went on to obtain a master’s in New Testament studies. In the process, he met a wonderful woman, got married, had two children, and attained a PhD in philosophical theology.


Guillaume Bignon, “My Own French Revolution,” CT magazine (November, 2014), pp. 95-96

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