Christopher Hitchens is a great writer. Earlier this year, I read his book, god is not great. It’s subtitled, “How Religion Poisons Everything.” Most of the book consisted of the same tired, old, worn-out, perennial arguments that are regularly cited by atheists regarding the existence of God and the effects religion has had on society. However, along with those, he makes some salient points that any thinking Christian must wrestle with and “be ready to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15). Today’s blog isn’t written to identify or speak to those specific issues. More about those later.
Upon discovering I had read this book, some asked why I would waste my time. Honestly, I was a little shocked at the comment. I’m convinced that Christians are supposed to be fully engaged “thinkers” – completely aware of the culture and spiritual climate in which we live and occupy. After all, aren’t we supposed to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, MIND and strength?” (Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk. 10:27) Apparently, the opposite is true among some Christian groups – literally ignorance is celebrated. This is shameful. Walking with Christ in faith NEVER means having to check my mind at the door.
In the mid-20th century, the question was “God. . . to believe or not to believe?” It was an issue of Theism or (A)Theism. Does God exist or not? By the late 20th century, the confluence of several cultural events as well as a world-wide outpouring of the Spirit of God began to cause people globally to change the question to, “In which God do you believe? It was no longer a question of atheism, but it became a question of polytheism. Which god do you follow? That’s the spiritual climate where God shows out! It’s the one that was in the air during the time of the establishment of the early church.
This “fresh wind” has atheists on full alert in their camp. The determination to turn back this rising spiritual tide has produced several culturally influential atheist writers. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens would probably make up this primary trinity of “unGodly” (said tongue in cheek) scribes. These guys are good. They are sharp and articulate thinkers who are very well educated and aren’t playing. They are “in it to win it” in their goal of a completely secular society and won’t rest until it’s all been scrubbed clean of any mention of God.
With all that said, I’m delighted to bring this event to your attention. Christopher Hitchens (god is not great) was interviewed by Marilyn Sewell, Unitarian minister who asked the following question:
Maryiln Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and [sic] distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud in amazement as I read the copy of the transcript and actually listened to his answer. You may view the transcript and listen to the actual interview (mp3) at this website. http://www.atheistmedia.com/2010/02/christopher-hitchens-interviewed-by.html
Below is Christopher Hitchens’ response:
Christopher Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.
Listen to the interview and you can hear how Ms. Sewell fumbled to change the direction of the conversation!
So, what’s the point? Here goes! Watch this – it is amazing to me when an avowed atheist has a better handle on the real meaning and implications of the Gospel than a “so-called” minister who is supposed to believe and preach that same gospel. Several lessons are learned here:
• Even atheists know that the Gospel has some “irreducible minimums.” If you don’t believe those, then “you’re NOT in any meaningful sense a Christian.” (Hitchens’ own words)
• “Believers” of this type have no issues with the atheist, or secular humanist ideology or Satan (yep, I believe he exists) or the world-system and because of this are powerless to bring any lasting transformation to individual’s lives, much less larger society.
• If your pastor sounds like the Sewell variety, I don’t care how many generations of your family have been in your First_______ Church, RUN – FAST to the nearest Christ-centered, Bible-believing church and jump in with your full commitment.
• Quit taking everyone else’s word for it. Read the Bible for yourself. See what it says. Choose to practice and live it.
• Christians must stop celebrating their ignorance and “study in order to rightly handle the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and they must “be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15)
• You can’t handle the Word rightly and give a reason if you don’t spend any time in God’s Word! Dig in and THINK!