Charles Templeton, long-time partner in ministry with Billy Graham, was reaching the final stages in his life. An Alzheimer’s patient, he would soon stand face to face with the God he had rejected, and his final book, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith, tells the story.
When he passed away at age 85 no one could have guessed Charles Templeton was at one time the Pastor of a large Toronto Church, a key figure in the early days of the Youth For Christ organization, and a partner in ministry with Billy Graham, one of his closest friends.
How could it have happened? After reading such luminaries as Voltaire, David Hume, Bertrand Russell and other agnostics, Templeton chose to accept their skepticism as opposed to the truths we find in God’s Word.
Charles Templeton began his Christian experience with a quiet prayer in the mid-1930’s following a night of revelry at a sleazy strip-joint. But it wasn’t long before doubts surfaced and, despite a brilliant career as an evangelist and captivating speaker, he ultimately renounced his faith in God. The creation story, the mystery of evil, and the identity of Jesus of Nazareth created a loss of faith that would follow him to his death.
It is telling that, in an interview Lee Strobel recounts in his book, The Case for Faith, Templeton was asked how he would assess Jesus at this stage of his life. Amazingly, he stated, “He was the greatest human being who has ever lived.”
“You sound like you really care about him,” stated Strobel, and Templeton responded, “Well, he’s the most important thing in my life.” Then Templeton’s voice began to crack, and he said, “I … miss … him!” And with that, the old man burst into tears, and with a shaking frame, wept bitterly.
We can turn our backs on God for a lifetime, reject Him as irrelevant, but there comes a time when we must face reality. Charles Templeton died in 2001 free, for most of his eighty-five years, from the demands of a righteous God.
And he will live with that fact … forever.