Douglas Wilson wrote a good word in an article reflecting on the death of Christopher Hitchens, “Christopher Hitchens Has Died, Doug Wilson Reflects“. As I read and interacted with Hitchens’ writings, I found that Hitchens’ was likeable. I haven’t found the same to be true about the others who are of the same philosophical ilk as Hitchens, such as Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins. Consequently, the news of Hitchens’ death saddened me. What is even more sad is that Hitchens’ views led him down a path that now is unalterable. The Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). If Hitchens repented of his sins and placed his faith in Christ, the Lord knows it and has welcomed Hitchens into heaven on the merits of His Son, Jesus Christ. If he didn’t, the Lord knows this too and Hitchens will spend an eternity in hell away from the presence of the Lord he rejected (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).
One part of Wilson’s article caught my attention because I’m teaching a class at church on the gospel and evangelism. This Sunday we will talk about the importance of knowing, believing, and defending our faith. Wilson mentioned this in his article. You cannot approach a person like Hitchens and be tentative about your faith. You cannot strive for respectability and accommodation at the same time. You either believe it with conviction or why bother. I hope this citation spurs you on to be a Christian who holds your faith with conviction instead of seeking to accommodate for the sake of respectability. It won’t work. Here’s what Wilson said,
So we [Hitchens and Wilson] got on well with each other, because each of us knew where the other one stood. Eugene Genovese, before he became a believer, once commented on the tendency that some have to try to garner respect by giving away portions, big or small, of what they profess to believe. “If other religions offer equally valid ways to salvation and if Christianity itself may be understood solely as a code of morals and ethics, then we may as well all become Buddhists or, better, atheists. I intend no offense, but it takes one to know one. And when I read much Protestant theology and religious history today, I have the warm feeling that I am in the company of fellow unbelievers” (The Southern Front, pp. 9–10). Ironically, the branch of the faith most interested in getting the “cultured despisers” to pay us some respect is really not that effective, and this is a strategy that can frequently be found on the pointed end of its own petard. Respectability depends on not caring too much about respectability. Unbelievers can smell accommodation, and when someone like Christopher meets someone who actually believes all the articles in the Creed, including that part about Jesus coming back from the dead, it delights him. Here is someone actually willing to defend what is being attacked. Militant atheists are often exasperated with opponents whose strategy appears to be “surrender slowly.”