Battling Aggressive Infidelity: Debating Robert Ingersoll
Gladstone defended biblical truth in his 1888 debate in the North American Review with Robert Ingersoll, the most famous agnostic in America. During the controversy the statesman reached the peak of his fame as a Christian apologist. The Gladstone-Ingersoll debate illuminated the widening gulf between traditional Christianity and atheism in the United States as well as the fissures within Christianity itself. Opinions in America were again divided about Gladstone’s effectiveness as an apologist. Freethinkers and skeptics believed he had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Ingersoll. Unitarians and adherents of progressive orthodoxy judged his attack on infidelity to have fallen well short of the mark. Conservative evangelicals once again stood by their champion, believing he had triumphed over Ingersoll.