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?