So, of course, do the Bible and Christian tradition. Unlike the heroes of Rand, the Bible rarely portrays its chief characters as relentlessly good. Abraham tried to pass off Sarah as his sister. David committed adultery and murdered his rival. Peter is coward and rock, thoughtful evangelist and impulsive motor mouth. Paul's teaching provides for all time the essential infrastructure of our Christology, but his temper (to take one example) bursts out of his writings with disturbing power. Yet in all of these characters, flawed as they are, we see God at work, correcting them, calling them, drawing them to himself, transforming them. "I want to be like that."
Only and finally in Jesus do we see humanity as the Father intends it. And only and finally in Jesus can our humanity ultimately be transfigured. "It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2, RSV). Our heroic destiny is fulfilled in Christ, whom we shall gaze upon eternally. Even now, while our transformation is still incomplete, we have "put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator" (Col. 3:10, RSV).
There is little in Ayn Rand's philosophy or worldview that a Christian can endorse, even in small ways. Moore is right; Rand is "first and foremost an anti-Christian philosopher," and Objectivism stands in painfully stark contrast to the gospel. Yet I wonder if I am alone in offering thanks for Rand and her role, inadvertent as it was, in Christian conversion. God can use a donkey to chastise a prophet. Can he also use Rand as a kind of waystation on the road to Christ?
In my more hopeful moments, I find myself wondering if Rand, in her last moments, perceived her error and turned to the One she had rejected all her life. Or, as she slipped into eternity, if Jesus made a final, undeserved, and awe-full offer of grace. But that is speculation, and well beyond what God intends us to know. It is sufficient for my own purposes simply to say: Thank you, Ayn Rand.
Edward S. Little II is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, and author of Joy in Disguise: Meeting Jesus in the Dark Times (Morehouse, 2009).
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Gary Moore wrote earlier about why Christians should be wary of Ayn Rand and her disciples.
Previous articles on conversion or testimony include:
Testify! | In nightclubs, coffeehouses, and iPods, true first-person storytelling is becoming a cultural force as it borrows from Christian tradition. (January 7, 2011)
Bearing True Witness | Why we are tempted to embellish conversion stories. (June 28, 2010)
What Conversion Is and Is Not | Hint: It's not just about getting people 'saved.
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