We look back on history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling; revolutions and counter-revolutions succeeding one another; wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed; one nation dominant and then another. As Shakespeare’s King Lear puts it, “the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon…” Can this really be what life is about, as the media insist? This interminable soap opera going from century to century… from era to era, whose old discarded sets and props litter the earth? Surely not. Was it to provide a location for so repetitive and ribald a performance that the universe was created and man came into existence? I can’t believe it. If this were all, then the cynics, the hedonists, and the suicides would be right. The most we can hope for from life is some passing amusement, some gratification of our senses and death. But it’s not all.
Thanks to the great mercy and marvel of the Incarnation, the cosmic scene is resolved into a human drama. God reaches down to become a Man and Man reaches up to relate himself to God. Time looks into eternity and eternity into time, making now always, and always now. Everything is transformed by the sublime drama of the Incarnation…
Jesus of Nazareth is easily the dominant figure in history. I am speaking of Him, of course, as a man. For I can see that the historian must treat Him as a man, just as the painter must paint Him as a man… To assume that He never lived and that the accounts of His life are inventions is more difficult and raises more problems in the path of the historian than to accept the essential elements of the Gospel stories as fact.
Of course, you and I live in countries where to millions of men and women Jesus is more than a man. But the historian must disregard that fact. He must adhere to the evidence which would pass unchallenged if His book were to be read in every nation under the sun.
Now, it is interesting and significant, isn’t it, that an historian setting forth in that spirit, without any theological bias whatsoever, should find that he simply cannot portray the progress of humanity honestly without giving the foremost place to a penniless teacher from Nazareth.
–H. G. Wells, (1866–1946) Author, historian and outspoken critic of Christianity