Friday, December 16, 2011

Doug Wilson on the Death of Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, well known for his atheism, died last night at the age of 62, after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was an established and proficient writer, probably most famous for his book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. He was not one who shied away from controversy and debate.

A few years back, he went on a debate tour with theologian Doug Wilson. A excellent documentary end up being made showcasing these debates called Collision (You can watch the first 13 minutes of it here).

Doug Wilson has written a great article in Christianity Today on the death of Christopher Hitchens. The whole thing is worth reading, but I wanted to quote the final few paragraphs below. It shows how Hitchens was approaching death and also says something about how Christians should hope for redemption for others, even those who devoted their lives to denying God's existence. We should always feel "There but by the grace of God go I"...
Christopher knew that faithful Christians believe that it is appointed to man once to die, and after that the Judgment. He knew that we believe what Jesus taught about the reality of damnation. He also knew that we believe—for I told him—that in this life, the door of repentance is always open. A wise Puritan once noted what we learn from the last-minute conversion of the thief on the cross—one, that no one might despair, but only one, that no one might presume. We have no indication that Christopher ever called on the Lord before he died, and if he did not, then Scriptures plainly teach that he is lost forever. But we do have every indication that Christ died for sinners, men and women just like Christopher. We know that the Lord has more than once hired workers for his vineyard when the sun was almost down (Matt. 20:6).

We also know that Christopher was worried about this, and was afraid of letting down the infidel team. In a number of interviews during the course of his cancer treatments, he discussed the prospect of a "death bed" conversion, and it was clear that he was concerned about the prospect. But, he assured interviewers, if anything like that ever happened, we should all be certain that the cancer or the chemo or something had gotten to his brain. If he confessed faith, then he, the Christopher Hitchens that we all knew, should be counted as already dead...

This is interesting, not so much because of what it says about what he did or did not do as death approached him, and as he at the same time approached death. It is interesting because, when he gave these interviews, he was manifestly in his right mind, and the thought had clearly occurred to him that he might not feel in just a few months the way he did at present. The subject came up repeatedly, and was plainly a concern to him. Christopher Hitchens was baptized in his infancy, and his name means "Christ-bearer." This created an enormous burden that he tried to shake off his entire life. No creature can ever succeed in doing this. But sometimes, in the kindness of God, such failures can have a gracious twist at the end. We therefore commend Christopher to the Judge of the whole earth, who will certainly do right. Christopher Eric Hitchens (1949-2011). R.I.P.

No comments:

Post a Comment