The name of one Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad (August 12, 1891 – April 9, 1953) lies in obscurity today. The reasons are not hard to find. Back in the day--the "day" of the twilight years between World Wars I and II--Joad was active in prosecuting socialist, pacifist, and eugenics causes. He was a member of the intellectual elite in Britain that took the perfectibility of man seriously. At the height of his public popularity he was as famous as George Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell.
But, he had one great lacunae--towards the end of his life he became a Christian. To an Unbelieving generation this was unforgivable. That one of their heroes, an uberman, should defalcate to the other side was an inexcusable betrayal. Hence Joad now lies in obscurity. Who ever now would mention him alongside Shaw or Russell?
Christians, however, should never forget such things.
It is part of our duty to retain the heritage, the testimony, of the great cloud of witnesses who summon us to strive and call us to stand firm. Joad is one of these.
He was dying of cancer when he wrote his last book, entitled The Recovery of Belief (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1952). In it he explains how the problem of evil both in his own life and in human culture was a powerful force in driving him to belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is because the efforts of the generation of my youth, the generation of optimists that flourished before 1914, sprang from a misconception of the nature of man's lot, that they have been so largely unsuccessful. To put it more specifically, to reject the doctrine of original sin, as so many of those whose outlook was formed in the atmosphere of Left-wing politics and rationalist philosophy rejected it, was to fall victim to a shallow optimism in regard to human nature which led men to think that the millennium was just around the corner waiting to be introduced by a society of adequately psycho-analysed, prosperous Socialists.
It was because we rejected the doctrine of original sin that we on the Left were always being disappointed; disappointed by the refusal of people to be reasonable, by the subservience of the intellect to emotion, by the failure of true Socialism to arrive, by the behaviour of nations and politicians, by the masses' preference for Hollywood to Shakespeare and for Mr. Sinatra to Beethoven; above all, by the recurrent fact of war. . . .
Presently the facts of sin and evil came to present themselves with such overwhelming strength that unless one were able to seek assistance, if not for the overcoming of them, at least for the not sucuumbing to them, one would give way to despair. The more I knew of it, the more Christianity seemed to offer just that strengthening and assistance. And with that the rationalist-optimist philosophy, by the light of which I had hitherto done my best to live, came to seem intolerably trivial and superficial--a shallow rooted plant wh ich, growing to maturity amid the lush and leisured optimism of the nineteenth century, was quite unfitted to withstand the bleaker winds that blow through ours. I abandoned it, and in abandoning it found myself a Christian. (Ibid., p. 81f.)