Friday

Christopher Hitchens and the Gospel

Noted atheist Christopher Hitchens passed away Thursday night at the age of 62 from pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer.  So what do we as Christians take away from this? What should our reaction be to the news that a staunch opponent of our faith is now gone?

There are several options available to us.

1. We can take the route that Russell Moore took here and remind ourselves that the Gospel can save even men as opposed to the gospel as Hitchens.  We can say that we don't know his eternal fate but know that redemption is possible even for men like him.

2. We can exult in his death and say that because he denied and repudiated the gospel message his entire life, Hitchens is now reaping the fruits his life of sin here on earth.  If Hitchens remained opposed to the gospel to the end then he is indeed reaping what he sowed, but as believers we should not exult in the eternal punishment of any man.

3. We can use Hitchens' death as a stark reminder of the truths of Romans 2:4-5 as Dan Phillips suggests here.  We can warn unbelievers that to pursue a life course along the lines of Hitchens is to presume on the kindness of God and to store up wrath for the day of His returning.

So what is the answer?  I don't know that there is one right answer (although option 2 is definitely the wrong one).

I suggest a response in line with the Scottish preacher Thomas Guthrie said.
It cannot be too often, or too loudly, or too solemnly repeated, that the Bible, which ranges over a period of four thousand years, records but one instance of a death-bed conversion—one that none may despair, and but one that none may presume. (via: JT)
So, for me the answer is to remember that, yes and amen, God can save men like Christopher Hitchens who reject, ridicule, and rebuff Him their entire lives to the very end.  The reality, however, is that Hitchens probably went into eternity having stored up wrath for himself by continually taking advantage of the kindness of a holy God.

Above all, I am reminded that if it were not for the great mercy and grace of God, I would be no better off than Christopher Hitchens.  The ultimate takeaway for those of us who call Him Father should be to bring much praise to the throne of grace on which sits the only God of the universe who has called us to be His own possession. We deserve the same fate as an unrepentant atheist and yet God has spared us by not sparing His only Son.

So mourn the fate of a man who rejected God his whole life, rejoice that  because of the grace of God, his fate is no longer ours, and go forth and proclaim this gospel that can even save people like Christopher Hitchens, you, and me.

Disciple, Husband, Father, 3rd Grade Teacher.

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