December 16, 2011

Wise By The World's Standard: Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

Hitchens dead of pneumonia, a complication of cancer of the esophagus.

As a Christian apologist I feel I must comment on the passing of Christopher Hitchens. He was a sworn and outspoken militant atheist that often took the fight of atheism directly to Christians being openly critical of them and their beliefs. He was akin to Richard Dawkins in his approach to methodological naturalism and reductionist naturalism. If something had to be explained by means of the supernatural it was ruled out and not acceptable in his mind. Everything had to have a physical, naturalistic or a posteriori argument to validate it.

Ironically the only other person I have written about at their passing was my father. Both my dad, Raymond Pierson and this man Christopher Hitchens were used by God. My father knew this was taking place and was happy to be a vessel of the Lord, Hitchens probably did not realize this and would've tried to fight it with every ounce of volitional being and even then he'd have unwittingly done it all to the glory of God anyway. My father's passing brought glory to the Lord as it caused many to reflect on their lives and see the Godly man he was and how they could do the same. Strangely, the death of Hitchens will have a similar effect on some as they will begin to ask those unspeakable questions:

What lies beyond?
Is life really all there is?
Is existence meaningless?

Some will walk away none the wiser for the effort, but some of them will.

A light will finally go on in their skulls and God will come knocking down doors to claim them for Himself. God can use even the evil of the world to work things to the ultimate culmination of the ages/eons and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. What men mean for evil, God can use for good. The very things Hitchens fought against with every fiber in his body may very well bring many to Faith: God & Death. Death in a godless man's eyes is the ultimate equalizer and will stop a godless man in his tracks but death to the Christian is meerly a speed bump to eternity. The Christian looks past this last pothole on the mortal highway and sees the brilliance of the Son in the distance. The atheist sees only darkness. Even in this man's death some will ask those questions and the fear and reality of the darkness of death will scare them towards the Light. Now is the time to talk to atheists and agnostics. They may not be asking these questions aloud but some are confronting them internally because one of the "heroes" of the faithless has been snuffed out of existence [in their theology]...and this will scare a few of them into entertaining the possibility of hope instead of the hopelessness of nihilism. They may stop and re-evaluate their moribund spirituality.

Sadly, many Christians will see this man as having been their sworn enemy and say good riddance when they read of his passing. This is an unchristian response to the probable loss of another soul from glory. More than likely this man's beliefs took him to eternal separation from God...and eternity is a long time to spend in an unpleasant place of your own making. He now awaits final judgment and the Lake of Fire. We should all be sad about this as he was human and as such had an immortal soul that will suffer under God's wrath after having suffered here. God loves all people as they are all created in His image and wishes that none of them perish (2 Peter 3:9). So should we.

This is the exact type man Christians should be continually trying to win to Christ Jesus. The hardened ones. This man could've been your father or son, husband or brother...a friend. He was not our enemy per se but a sadly misguided man that thought he knew the answers but simply refused to know God (Romans 1). There is a very good chance unless he converted in his dying breath that this man is condemned and this pains me even though in life I was dead set against what he spoke against our Faith. The serpent of Old claimed another victim. In the case of this man there may be more victims because of how many people he attracted with his philosophical poison wrapped in clever rhetoric and sarcastic wit. Overall when I read the pollution that came out of his mind he struck me as a rather angry and bitter man that had an overabundance of vitriol. Not sure why he was like this. If left to speculate I would have to conclude sin had overtaken him and infected his soul.

It amazes me that a man who had "Christ" in his name...never quite "got it" that I am aware of.

As Blaise Pascal once stated in his "wager"...

"...that since the existence of God can not be proved (or disproved) through reason, but since in his view there was much to be gained from wagering that God exists (and little to be gained from wagering that God doesn't exist), a rational person should simply wager that God exists (and live accordingly). "~Pensées: Note 233  

What's the worst that can happen if you do truly accept Christ? You will at least enter heaven and eternal life in the presence of God by the narrowest of margins. That is...if you at least believe Jesus' work in the cross.

Stated another way in a syllogism (I've blended Pascal's Wager in a Christian defense):
  • Believers and non believers alike, agree that reward is good, punishment is bad.
  • If God is real you receive infinite punishment for disbelief or infinite reward for belief
    • If you believe you go to heaven for eternity.
    • If you don't believe you go to hell for eternity.
  • If God is not real you don't really lose or gain anything either way. 
    • If you believe falsely that God does exist you haven't really lost anything.
    • If you don't believe and it turns out God doesn't exist then you don't really gain anything.
  • Therefore even if there is strong evidence against God it is still better to believe.
    • The reward for believing there is a God, is infinitely better than the benefit for not believing if there's no God.
    • The punishment for not believing if there is a God, is infinitely worse than the loss caused by believing falsely that there is a God.
[Pascal's Wager itself is often argued against by atheists themselves as they claim there are logic flaws due to begging the question, non-zero cost of belief, special pleading, false dichotomy. Unfortunately, atheist are arguing these flaws from their own flawed presuppositions/bias not from a Christian point of view and are thereby self-negating their claim. Regardless, if you want stronger arguments against atheism or agnosticism I recommend you read this post: God Exists. Prove Me Wrong]

Based on an atheist's mindset like Mr Hitchens, the best he could hope for if he was right about the afterlife is Annihilationism. A belief that apart from salvation to eternal life in Jesus Christ the death of human beings results in their total destruction (annihilation) rather than their everlasting torment in Hell. A belief that he would "wink" out of existence and cease to exist. That is the best he could hope for as an atheist. It only goes downhill from there in reality. Regardless of what Rob Bell did or did not say in his book, Hell is real, it is eternal and it is reserved for the people that either reject Jesus Christ as Savior (from sin) outright or fail to acknowledge Him as such. More than likely Mr Hitchens did not know Christ as anything more than a metaphorical of allegorical myth fabricated by his sworn enemies: Christians. Therefore Jesus was only worthy of mockery and derision in Hitchens' eyes.

As I read more and more articles and obituaries about him I keep hearing how smart a man he was. They say he was one of the most intelligent and witty men in the world. Intelligent and witty people do not willingly reject God and embrace condemnation if a form of salvation is offered to them. This is like refusing the last life preserver or lifeboat on the Titanic. A person that embraces depraved thinking willingly is fallen in their sins and cannot make rationalized decisions as their minds are reprobate. Why wouldn't a wise person by the world's standards at least hedge his bets on eternal life if he has nothing to lose (in his own mind) by going the other way? I can think of only one reason: Arrogance caused by sin.

'Tis a shame. A person can be the smartest and wittiest person in the world by the world’s measure but if he doesn’t know the Gospel he is deader than a doornail in his trespasses and sin. We all know the passage...

“For the message of ...the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Cor. 1:18-25

Everyone dies. What happens after we slip this mortal coil is dependant on a decision made during our transient lives here. A decision that gains you everything. A failure to make it allows you to forfeit everything. It makes no difference how you come to Christ...or only matters that you do so while you are alive in this life and capable of making a cognizant decision. That option is no longer open to Mr. Hitchens if for some reason he has now changed his mind...which I imagine he might have.

Contrary to the title of Mr Hitchen's recent book...God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything the end, God is Great and He will not be mocked. He will destroy the wisdom of the "wise" and frustrate the intelligence of the "intelligent".

I pray this man repented but I am not holding my breath.

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