Christopher Hitchens Interview — More evidence bad theology drives people away from Jesus

I heard a great feature this morning on NPR’s show “Morning Edition,” in which the brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens were interviewed.  Christopher, as most of you likely know, is a world-famous atheist (I would describe him as an anti-theist fundamentalist) who rails against those who hold to faith, and who wrote the bestseller “God is Not Great.”  What I did not know is that his brother Peter is an Anglican Christian, and their arguments for and against belief have been somewhat public as well.  Now Christopher is dying of cancer, so people are coming out of the woodwork to pray for him (good) and to “witness” to him (mostly bad, I’m guessing) before he cashes in.

I was struck by a statement Christopher made in the interview:

“Under no persuasion could I be made to believe that a human sacrifice several thousand years ago vicariously redeems me from sin,” he says. “Nothing could persuade me that that was true — or moral, by the way. It’s white noise to me.” 

Wow.  This sounds like exactly the frustration I expressed after reading Robert Heinlein’s book Job: A Comedy of Justice.  As I described in my essay on the book,  I’m bothered that, having come to the conclusion that the classic doctrine of penal-substitutionary atonement is unbiblical, I keep on encountering evidence that people have been driven from faith in Jesus, at least in part, because they can’t accept PSA.  It angers me that what I firmly believe to be bad theology, is being force-fed to people with such vigor that it’s all they can see of Jesus.

Jesus himself had some pretty harsh things to say about those whose false teaching drives people from true faith.  We as believers need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.  I said it last week, and I’ll repeat it today:  how can anyone be blamed for rejecting Jesus if we’ve never introduced them to anything but a bad caricature of him?

2 thoughts on “Christopher Hitchens Interview — More evidence bad theology drives people away from Jesus”

  1. ψευδἸωάννης

    Yes, if the gospel is going to be an offense and stumblingblock, we'd best have the right gospel. And it strikes me that the idea of penal substitution really blunts the warnings about how teachers will be judged more strictly. Even your sins of false teaching are 100% forgiven, so in the grand scheme of things there isn't much need to worry.

    Is it better to believe in no gods than to believe a false one (such as the one described by most penal substitutionary models)? Does God prefer disbelief to idolatry?

  2. Dan Martin

    Fascinating question, PJ (btw, intrigued by your screen name). I don't have a ready answer. My instinct tells me that idolatry is more onerous than unbelief…in particular unbelief that is rejecting an actual falsehood. I could be off-base, however. It's worthy of further thought.

    In any case, your reference to the warnings to false teachers is spot-on, and something about which we as believers should be far more cautious than we usually seem to be.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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