How Author Malcolm Gladwell Found Christ

Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell

For nearly two decades, Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker magazine has explained why things are the way they are. Using insights from social science research, he described how “ideas and products and messages” spread through a culture in his best-seller, “The Tipping Point.”

In “Outliers,” he explained why so many giants of the computer industry, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy, were all born within a few months of each other in the 1950s. He has even explained why NFL teams are terrible at drafting quarterbacks.

But the research for his latest book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” led Gladwell to an explanation for something even more important: Why be a Christian?

As he recently wrote in Relevant magazine, while writing “David and Goliath,” he went to Winnipeg to visit a woman named Wilma Derksen. Thirty years ago, the Derksens experienced every parent’s worst nightmare: Their daughter, Candace, was abducted and murdered.

Gladwell was amazed by something that Wilma said at the time: “We would like to know who the person or persons [who murdered Candace] are so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people’s lives.”

She continued, “I can’t say at this point I forgive this person,” but, as Gladwell noticed, “the stress was on the phrase at this point.” As he writes, “I wanted to know where the Derksens found the strength to say those things . . . Where do two people find the power to forgive in a moment like that?”

The answer was their Christian faith. Similarly, in the final chapter of “David and Goliath,” he tells the story of Le Chambon, France. When France fell to the Nazis in World War II, the local Huguenot pastor and his flock determined that if the Germans told them to do anything “contrary to the Gospel,” they would refuse.

The refusals included everything from signing loyalty oaths and giving fascist salutes to hiding Jews. What’s more, they told the Germans that they intended to resist.

What happened in Winnipeg and Le Chambon were examples of what Gladwell, borrowing a phrase from filmmaker Pierre Sauvage, whose family was protected by the people of Le Chambon, calls “weapons of the spirit.” It’s “the peculiar and inexplicable power that comes from within.”

It’s a power that Gladwell, who grew up in a Christian home, was familiar with but had gotten away from. As he put it, “I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God’s power.”

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SOURCE: Christian Headlines
Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint