In 1876 Major General Lew Wallace was riding the train to Indianapolis, when he met and fell into conversation with a fellow officer from the recent American Civil War, Colonel Robert Ingersoll. Ingersoll was by this time one of the foremost orators of his day, and for the next two hours he used all his skills to attack and demolish Christianity and the Bible. Wallace was overwhelmed by Ingersoll’s arguments but came away from the encounter realising how little he actually knew about the Christian faith. As a result, he started to read the Bible and the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, and became convinced not only of the existence of God, but of Jesus as the Son of God. He put his faith in Christ and his life was changed forever.
In 1880 he published a book with the title ‘Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ’. His powerful story of unjust accusation and redemption has never been out of print, and subsequent stage and film adaptations have been seen by millions, leading many to follow Wallace in putting their faith in Christ.
It might all have been so different if he had alighted from that train satisfied with what he had heard from Ingersoll; but he realised that he didn’t know enough and was prepared to keep searching. May we be encouraged by his example to do the same.