LETTERS FROM EUROPE
The Famous in France: Why They Believe

October 1994By John Warwick Montgomery

The Rev. John Warwick Montgomery, a Lutheran, is a practicing barrister and Professor of Law and Humanities at the University of Luton in England.

Briskly selling in France now is a collection of 137 testimonies (three of them cartoons) under the title, Pourquoi Croyez-vous en Dieu? (Why Do You Believe in God?). The publisher is Criterion (Paris) and the edi­tor, François Bluche, a distinguished historian whose biography of Louis XIV has been translated into En­glish and Russian.

Normally, books of testimonies elicit about as much public interest as sermon collections (just below works on the building of bird baths). What makes this anthology different is the surprising list of its contribu­tors -- including famous names few would have asso­ciated with Christian faith. In effect, a number of very famous Frenchmen have blown their cover and can now be identified as committed Christians. The list includes the exceedingly popular cartoonists Jacques Faizant and Pierre de Montvallon (who draws under his acro­nym "Piero"), prolific writer Jean Raspail, Sorbonne historian François -Georges Dreyfus, and several mem­bers of the Institute, such as historian of ideas Francis Rapp -- and Louis Pauwels, whose entire career has been associated with the occult and New Age vagaries.

The volume also gives the reader familiar Chris­tian spokesmen: theologian Oscar Cullman; retired Bishop of Strasbourg Léon Elchinger; the great lay Catholic theologian and polymath Jean Guitton; and heroic scientific defender of the rights of the unborn, Professor Jérôme Lejeune, who died at about the time his testimony was published. The editor casts his net widely: Most of the contributors are Roman Catholics (as one would expect in a French anthology), but Lutherans such as Cullman and Dreyfus, and Henri Blocher, Dean of the Free Faculty of Evangelical Theology at Vaux-sur-Seine, are also represented.

Let us examine some of the most striking of these testimonies, and then try to draw some lessons.


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