Albert Henry Ross (pseudonym Frank Morison, 1881 – 1950) was an advertising agent and freelance writer. He was born in England and he was also a keen colour cinematographer and amateur astronomer (1). As an atheist he was critical of the resurrection of Jesus, and being skeptical he set out to analyse the sources and to write a short paper entitled Jesus – the Last Phase (2). His paper was written in the hope to prove that the resurrection was a myth (3). He is most widely known for his book Who Moved the Stone? The book is authored under his pseudonym Frank Morison, and it was after authoring this book that he became convinced of the truth of the resurrection.
Ross firmly believed in the maxim of the renowned skeptic, Huxley, that, “Miracles do not happen.” Despite his firm commitment to the work and philosophy of 19th century skeptics, Ross could not help but feel an attraction to, and admiration for, the Biblical Jesus. This had been an interest of Ross’ for much of his life. And his study had led him to believe that the story of Jesus was likely just that: a story. Ross said that:
“When, as a very young man, I first began seriously to study the life of Christ, I did so with a very definite feeling that, if I may so put it, his history rested on very insecure foundations” (4).
Finally, Ross decided to take his talent at writing, and his keen scientific mind, and put them to work in order to untangle the cobweb of stories being told within the historical documents to prove once and for all that dead men simply did not rise again. He did not simply study the Gospels, but looked beyond them to other sources, such as the works of Josephus, some early historical writings on Pontius Pilate and even tapped into more controversial sources, such as the Gospels of Peter and Hebrews to see where they came from and what their traditions had to say. According to Ross:
“In attempting to unravel the tangled skein of passions, prejudices, and political intrigues with which the last days of Jesus are interwoven, it has always seemed to me a sound principle to go straight to the heart of the mystery by studying closely the nature of the charge brought against Him.
“I remember this aspect of the question coming home to me one morning with new and unexpected force. I tried to picture to myself what would happen if some two thousand years hence a great controversy should arise about one who was the center of a criminal trial, say in 1922. By that time most of the essential documents would have passed into oblivion. An old faded cutting of The Times or Telegraph, or perhaps some tattered fragment of a legal book describing the case, might have survived to reach the collection of an antiquary. From these and other fragments the necessary conclusions would have to be drawn. Is it not certain that people living in that far-off day, and desiring to get at the real truth about the man concerned, would go first to the crucial question of the charge on which arraigned? They would say: “What was all the trouble about? What did his accusers say and bring against him?” If, as in the present instance, several charges appear to have been preferred, they would ask what was the real case against the prisoner” (5).
Ross stopped to ask the important questions which none save him had ever asked. Questions such as, “Why did Judas choose that particular night to turn Jesus in to the Pharisees?” “Did the Sanhedrin and Pilate work hand-in-hand on Jesus’ case, or separately?” “Where and why did they disciples hide during and after the trial and crucifixion?” and further questions of a purely forensic nature.
As Ross advanced through his work, a book he initially intended to publish under the title Jesus: The Last Phase, the evidence became more and more convincing that Jesus did, indeed, rise from his tomb. Everything pointed in that direction. The book he set out to write – debunking the risen Christ – was not the book he completed, a fact he recounts in his chapter “The Book That Refused to be Written.” At the conclusion of the writing he was brought to, as he calls it, the “unexpected shores” of salvation.
Ross went on to write other historical works, including one on Pontius Pilate himself, no doubt inspired by the notes he had taken for Stone. While Ross died in 1950, and his larger body of writings are all but forgotten, Who Moved The Stone has become a classic of Christian Apologetics, proving still to be a truly brilliant piece of analytical work into the events surrounding the trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Source article at Examiner.
1. The Times. 1950. Mr. A. H. Ross (Obituaries). p. 8.
2. Morison, F. 2006 (most recent edition). Who moved the stone?
3. Desmond K. 2005. The Least Likely: If God Can Use Them, He Can Use You!
4. Schumacher, R. 2012. What Would Change Your Mind about Christianity? Available.
5. Davis, J. 2012. Indepth Investigation of Christ’s Death: Reviewing “Who Moved the Stone” by Frank Morison. Available.
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
I love when those who try to disprove Christ ending up having a life-changing encounter with Him. God is still doing that today!
How do you explain the many people who sought out the evidence to make their faith stronger and realized the evidence was not as compelling as they thought? Instead of a stronger faith they ended up leaving it. I know because I am in that group. I went searching for the evidence and was surprised by how weak it was.
That would come over as rebellion against God. God has put enough into the world for those who are genuine seekers to believe. Christian writer & evangelist Ravi Zacharias explains that:
“God has put enough into the world to make faith in him a most reasonable thing, and he has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason or observation alone”
To deny that God has given sufficient evidence is to disagree with God himself. It’s also disagreeing with God that faith plays an integral role here too.
If you are still interested in searching, I recommend the work of N.T. Wright, specifically his lecture on the resurrection.
So, you’re telling me I left the faith because I am rebelling against god? That is crap. I want there to be a god and an afterlife but I can’t be dishonest with myself just because I want that. The evidence just isn’t there. I searched and searched for it but it all came out flat. They are good evidences against everything you present. Not one holds water. I left because christianity isn’t true not because I rebelled against god.
Leaving the faith is rebelling against God, for it is rejecting God’s means of salvation for you. But God gives us the freewill to reject him if we so choose.
“I want there to be a god and an afterlife but I can’t be dishonest with myself just because I want that.”
-Of course, I understand, however, God has decisively provided that in Jesus. You claim the evidence isn’t there. But are you really sure of that? How read are you on apologetic arguments for the resurrection? Have you considered other things like personal bias (perhaps from naturalism)?
If you claim to be well read & still reject it then it’s ultimately you against God because you reject what he has provided (this is why I quoted Ravi above, he really puts this well)
“They are good evidences against everything you present. Not one holds water. I left because christianity isn’t true not because I rebelled against god.”
-Well, there you have it then; you’re not a Christian because you find the evidence weak. That’s up for you to decide.
Needless to say, as a follower of Jesus, I am extremely disappointed with Jame Bishop’s condescending and demeaning response to you. In fact, in the “rejoicing” of the man who converted – as if that conversion somehow had any meaning beyond the individual himself – I knew there was a complete miss as to the MANY who “de-convert” from all theism – or re-convert to other forms of theism. This sort of “repentance” is going on all the time everywhere through humanity and history from every system to every system. There simply is not meaning in such conversions within themselves.
I greatly appreciate your last sentence – “They are good evidences against everything you present. Not one holds water. I left because christianity isn’t true not because I rebelled against god.”
I will note that I “converted” from Fundamental Pentecostalism to some sort of Evangelicalism – to a genuine follow of Jesus Christ through His Spirit. Quite a journey…:-). The result is that I am far more gracious to a man such as yourself – and far less gracious to those who claim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – but engage in demeaning behavior. This behavior did Jesus NOT engage in.
More to say – but at least I hoped that you would know there are followers of the Jesus that find you quite acceptable – and if you were in the area, I would be glad to fellowship with you and hear of your process.
Backsliders are evidence of sin and self-deception.
One who is truly born again is ample evidence of the resurrected Messiah.
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