Chastity as an evangelistic method

I’m always fascinated by the way in which God brings people to himself, and I just read one conversion story that wonderfully illustrates the variety of means God uses. Guillaume Bignon is a French atheist who met an American Christian woman on vacation in St. Martin. He liked her but her faith dictated that they could not have a sexual relationship outside of marriage. This greatly frustrated him and it set him on a course that proved spiritually life saving. He describes his strategy this way:

Her religious beliefs clearly remained the problem, and my new goal in life was essentially to explain to her why all this was untenable, so that she could put this nonsense behind her, and we could be together without her misconceptions standing in the way. So I started thinking about the whole thing. What good reason was there to think God exists, and what good reason was there to think atheism was true instead?

That led him to start reading the Bible, and he prayed an unbeliever’s prayer.

 I figured there was at least one experiment that could be carried out to dis-confirm the belief that God exists: I thought “if any of this is true, then there is a God who exists right now and presumably cares greatly about this project of mine”, so I started to pray in the air as an atheist “If there is a God, then here I am, I’m looking into this, why don’t you go ahead and reveal yourself to me. I’m open.”

How God answered that prayer and turned Bignon into a Christian theologian you can discover by reading his account of his conversion experience.

It is so much fun to watch God at work, growing the community of believers one at a time.


By Terrance Tiessen

I am Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, Canada.

3 replies on “Chastity as an evangelistic method”

Dear professor Thiessen,
You might care to know that I have greatly appreciated your own work on divine providence, especially your contentions regarding the profitability of counterfactuals in justifying permission language in a compatibilist framework (whether or not one calls such counterfactuals ‘Calvinist middle knowledge’). As a matter of fact, I am currently working on a paper proposal for the next ETS conference, in which I hope to develop a bit further this strategy that you and Dr Ware have inspired me to carry on.
The tentative title is ‘God Willing and God Forbid’ – Molinist Middle Knowledge, Calvinist Counterfactuals, and Permission Language.
I am happy to share an abstract if you would like.

How nice to hear from you, Dr. Bignon. I’m happy that you have found some of my work helpful. I wonder if you have come across my two articles in the Westminster Theological Journal. In the first, I argued for middle knowledge in a Calvinist framework. In the second, Paul Helm and I published a dialogue in which he argued that God knows counterfactuals as part of his necessary knowledge. In the process of the correspondence that preceded that article, I became convinced that Helm was correct. I continue to believe that God’s knowledge of counterfactuals is very important to a compatibilist account of divine providence, but I no longer consider that knowledge “middle.” Most of what I said in my first WTJ article is still of value, I think, because some of the classic criticisms of middle knowledge would also challenge the view that God uses his necessary knowledge of possible worlds in a rational deliberative way.
I’d be delighted to see your abstract, and I’d particularly like to see a (digital) copy of your paper when you have presented it at ETS.

God’s blessings on you and your work.

I am sorry such a long time has passed, but I don’t think email notifications were sent following your comment, though the present page tells me I am subscribed to this thread.
In any case, I have read your exchange with Paul Helm indeed; he happens to be the “renown theologian” mentioned in my story, who is my doctoral supervisor!
Since the time of my above comment, I have received confirmation that my paper on permission language and counterfactuals has been accepted, so I will be presenting it at the ETS in San Diego this coming November. The material currently does not exist as a stand-alone article, but as a chapter in my PhD dissertation. I am happy to share whatever material I have with you, and covet your constructive criticism prior to the ETS. Feel free to reach out to me by email, assuming my address is available to you as the administrator of the blog.
All the best,

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