Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel?

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, declares the Lord God. Therefore,
repent and live (Ezek 18:31-32)

Last night, Christopher Hitchens - the vocal and articulate atheist apologist - succumbed to esophageal cancer and stepped into eternity. Though I oppose everything he advocated, and that with every fiber of my being, I oddly enjoyed his writing. Perhaps it was the honesty with which Hitchens presented what was at stake - more honest than many "evangelicals" with rooms of elephants that I know of.

Justin Taylor, reflects:
He once expressed incredulity at the platitudes of a Unitarian minister who saw the beauty of Jesus’ moral teachings while rejecting his divinity:
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.
He was no admirer of C. S. Lewis, but he did agree with Lewis’s statement about Jesus: “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”
Read Taylor, Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011).

Hitchens' sparing partner in Is Christianity Good for the World? - and the subsequent documentary, Collision - Douglas Wilson made the following insightful comments on his death:
Christopher knew that faithful Christians believe that it is appointed to man once to die, and after that the Judgment. He knew that we believe what Jesus taught about the reality of damnation. He also knew that we believe—for I told him—that in this life, the door of repentance is always open. A wise Puritan once noted what we learn from the last-minute conversion of the thief on the cross—one, that no one might despair, but only one, that no one might presume. We have no indication that Christopher ever called on the Lord before he died, and if he did not, then Scriptures plainly teach that he is lost forever. But we do have every indication that Christ died for sinners, men and women just like Christopher. We know that the Lord has more than once hired workers for his vineyard when the sun was almost down (Matt. 20:6).

... Christopher Hitchens was baptized in his infancy, and his name means "Christ-bearer." This created an enormous burden that he tried to shake off his entire life. No creature can ever succeed in doing this. But sometimes, in the kindness of God, such failures can have a gracious twist at the end. We therefore commend Christopher to the Judge of the whole earth, who will certainly do right. Christopher Eric Hitchens (1949-2011). R.I.P.
Read Wilson, Christopher Hitchens Has Died. The Judge of the earth will do right, taking no pleasure in the wicked one's death, but delighting in the exercise of His own impeccable justice.

If you have not seen Collision, do so - perhaps invite a friend to watch it with you. (You can view it for free here). It is worth discussing the exchange in the final scenes when Hitchens says he would not convince the last Christian on earth, even if he could... even the most virulent atheist can never fully erase the image of God.

Repent and live.

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