General Wallace was never an atheist. According to his Autobiography, published posthumously in 1907, he wrote that he was raised in the Christian tradition but wasn’t a devout follower: “At that time, speaking candidly, I was not in the least influenced by religious sentiment. I had no convictions about God or Christ. I neither believed nor disbelieved in them.”….
It was a chance train ride with Capt. Robert Ingersol that solidified Wallace’s desire to closely examine the life of Jesus….
Wallace later said that through the research and writing of Ben-Hur, by learning of the story of Christ, “I found myself writing reverentially, and frequently with awe.”
So although Wallace never intended Ben-Hur to be a debunking of Christianity, he still found himself transfixed, and transformed, by the life of Jesus Christ….