Christopher Hitchens and Lessons for Evangelicals

Al Mohler had a thought-provoking post yesterday, “Learning from Christopher Hitchens: Lessons Evangelicals Must Not Miss.”  The entire post was good.  The specific part of the article that captured my attention was lesson five:

5. Hitchens revealed the danger of cultural Christianity and exposure to tepid, lifeless, superficial Christian teaching.

In his childhood, Hitchens was exposed to the mild Christianity of his father and the Hitchens home. (Later in life, he discovered that his mother was, in fact, partly Jewish.) As a schoolboy, Hitchens received the customary dose of tame religious instruction. In God is Not Great, he wrote of Mrs. Jean Watts, “a good, sincere, simple woman, of stable and decent faith,” who taught him religion at his school near Dartmoor. Even as a boy, Hitchens was not impressed by her emotivist expressions of doctrine and her answers to his questions. He wrote also of a school headmaster, who seemed, among other failings, to believe that belief in God served a mainly therapeutic function. Hitchens described himself then as “quite the insufferable little intellectual,” but the damage was done. Unlike others who, as he wrote, might have rejected belief in God because of abuse or “brutish indoctrination,” Hitchens simply developed indignant contempt for a belief system that seemed so superficial and fraudulent. An exposure to tepid, lifeless, thoughtless, and intellectually formless Christianity can be deadly (emphasis added).

This is a particularly important point for Christian parents, pastors, and church members to note well and never forget.  We have to own and be serious about our faith if we intend to pass it down to the next generation.  We can blame the world, the public schools, evolution, atheists, etc., etc., etc.–all the “culprits” we can think of–but the reality is that the greatest enemy to Christianity is a professing Christian who shows little to no interest in living like a follower of Jesus.  In this sense, the biggest enemy of Christianity may be inside the walls of the church not outside of them.  Of course, the best thing believers can do is to own their faith and live it, love and serve Jesus in a way that is so inter-woven with their daily lives that it is impossible to separate the so-called sacred from the secular.  Our aim should be the sincere kind of Christianity Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 2:15-17 (ESV):

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, [16] to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? [17] For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.


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