I have long held the opinion that God would much rather be fought than ignored. Jacob wrestled with God by the river Jabbok and was blessed for being so audacious. Paul kicked against the goads until God shattered his worldview with a blinding light. C.S. Lewis spoke of being dragged, kicking and screaming, into his conversion of faith. There is ample evidence that God prefers a good brawl to polite and dismissive disregard.
Christopher Hitchens definitely fought against God. As a leading personality of militant atheism, Hitchens was a provocative and powerful voice until he died of esophageal cancer. I saw him debate a highly respected Christian scholar one night. He was bold and brilliant and formidable. And he scored points. It was a sobering experience, which is ironic considering Hitchens was probably not completely sober during the event.
In his fascinating new book, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens (Thomas Nelson, $24.99), Birmingham’s Larry Taunton describes his unlikely friendship with one of the world’s most vocal atheists. Taunton is a Christian, someone whose views stood in stark contrast to those of Hitchens and the community of disbelief he represented. The fact that they were friends troubled some, dismayed others, and gave hope to many. The Faith of Christopher Hitchens is not a story about deathbed conversions or clever apologetic talking points. Nor is it a guide to evangelism. It is better than that. It is a story of friendship and compassion and loving those who too often are incorrectly perceived as the enemy. It is an appeal for Christians to love the person more than the argument, to see non-believers as sad victims of the darkness of this world. It is an appeal for Christians to be more like Jesus, to be a friend of sinners.
I never met Hitchens, but the day he died was still one of great sadness. Unlike his atheist friends, however, I am not without hope. I do not know what will happen when Christopher meets Christ. It may be tragic, but I wouldn’t bet on such an outcome. God’s grace is amazing, his mercy is deep, and his power to save transcends our soteriological systems. Like Jacob on the banks of the Jabbok, Christopher fought all night with God. I wouldn’t be surprised if God won that battle too.
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster