When the famous atheist philosopher Antony Flew became a theist a few years back, the news was met by mixed reactions by Christians. Some haled it as a good thing; others are not so sure or think possibly it's not good since he didn't become a Christian. One of these skeptics asked me about my opinion the other night. Why have so many Christians been excited about Flew's "conversion" since he didn't become a Christian?
Certainly, mere theism isn't enough to be reconciled to God through Jesus. However, I still think it is a good think that Flew has made this move. First, I think that it shows the power of good arguments. When a life-long atheist and world-class intellectual can be persuaded, that shows that Christians have the rational goods. God makes sense and relationship with Him doesn't require sacrificing one's intellect, which is a stumbling block for some people who have the opposite impression. Second, theism over atheism is progress because now Flew has a belief and a concept of God that can be shaped and informed to become more accurate and true.
Becoming a Christian is rarely done in one fell swoop of belief and assent. It usually takes time to consider the information and for the Holy Spirit to work. We need to be willing to meet people where they are and take the time necessary to introduce them to the God of salvation.