Christopher Hitchens: An Atheist who Get’s the Gospel

Jesus said to Peter, and His other disciples, “Who do men say that I AM?” After a few answers that were incorrect, it would be Peter who would say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Centuries ago, this question was at the center of culture and humanity, and today it has not changed. It is no longer an argument, primarily, of whether Jesus existed, even History, Discovery, and Science Channel have a “theology” of His existence. What they, and many more do not have, is a true theology of His Person. Take into account this excerpt from a debate between Unitarian “Minister” Sewell and renowned Atheist Christopher Hitchens. the full transcript can be found here

The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion? {Minister Sewell}

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. {Christopher Hitchens, Atheist}

Let me go someplace else. When I was in seminary I was particularly drawn to the work of theologian Paul Tillich. He shocked people by describing the traditional God—as you might as a matter of fact—as, “an invincible tyrant.” For Tillich, God is “the ground of being.” It’s his response to, say, Freud’s belief that religion is mere wish fulfillment and comes from the humans’ fear of death. What do you think of Tillich’s concept of God?” {Minister Sewell}

I would classify that under the heading of “statements that have no meaning—at all.” Christianity, remember, is really founded by St. Paul, not by Jesus. Paul says, very clearly, that if it is not true that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then we the Christians are of all people the most unhappy. If none of that’s true, and you seem to say it isn’t, I have no quarrel with you. You’re not going to come to my door trying convince me either. Nor are you trying to get a tax break from the government. Nor are you trying to have it taught to my children in school. If all Christians were like you I wouldn’t have to write the book. {Christopher Hitchens, Atheist}

The Gospel is so very clear, clear enough that an Atheist understands it, and yet, it is the religious who have managed to convolute it, be ashamed of it, misrepresent it, and misrepresent He who is at the center of it. Unfortunately for Hitchens, and all of us, it is not believing it (mental ascent) or understanding it (knowledge of concepts) that make us followers of Jesus. It is the regenerating (transforming) work of the Holy Spirit that alters us, giving us the ability to put our whole hope in the unalterable gospel.
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