Friday, December 16, 2011

Evangelicals and Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens is dead.

Perhaps the world's most prominent and outspoken atheist, Hitchens died Thursday from complications of esophageal cancer at the age of 62. He garnered infamy throughout evangelicalism through his articulate communication of the belief that faith in God was not only not a good thing, but was actually the cause of most of our problems.  It is no surprise that such books as God is Not Good helped to make him "Enemy #1" in the minds of many members of the evangelical community.

I suppose there may be some who are gleeful at the passing of one who spent so much time and effort being an enemy of the One whom we follow. Though it would be a sad indictment on Christians, it would not be altogether surprising to see reaction pieces  proclaiming, "Ding-dong, the wicked witch is dead!"

Douglas Wilson, on the other hand, has written an obituary that is well-thought-out, well-stated, and I would argue a far better Christian response, which I think is quite helpful in demonstrating how we ought to react to the death of Hitchens.

You can click here to read Wilson's piece in its entirety, but there was one thing in particular I wanted to highlight.  I found the following passage to be quite interesting:
We also know that Christopher was worried about this, and was afraid of letting down the infidel team. In a number of interviews during the course of his cancer treatments, he discussed the prospect of a "death bed" conversion, and it was clear that he was concerned about the prospect. But, he assured interviewers, if anything like that ever happened, we should all be certain that the cancer or the chemo or something had gotten to his brain. If he confessed faith, then he, the Christopher Hitchens that we all knew, should be counted as already dead. In short, he was preparing a narrative for us, just in case.
It occurred to me as I read these words how precious the gospel is, and how (apart from the grace of God) I am exactly like Christopher Hitchens (though nowhere near as intellectually gifted). You see, Hitchens and I agreed on this much: If he (or I or anyone else) trusts in Christ, it is most assuredly not our own doing (Ephesians 2:8, 9). And if he (or I or anyone else) confesses faith, then indeed the person we once were should already be counted as dead (2 Corinthians 5:17). And every bit as much as Hitchens, we were all once enemies of God, reconciled to him not by any goodness in us, but only through the death of his Son (Romans 5:10).

It turns out evangelicals have more in common with Christopher Hitchens than we thought.

1 comment:

Jeff B. said...

I always enjoyed listening to Hitchings when I would see him on television. I found his view of God and His creation to be very sad. I remember when Jerry Falwell died Hitchings had a great time going from one talk show to another saying disparaging words about Falwell and his faith. Well thousands of people mourned the death of Jerry Falwell. I wonder how many mourn Christopher Hitchings.