Pastors, Sermon Illustrations, Uncategorized

A Pastor is Thankful for Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens passed away yesterday at 62 after a battle with cancer.

Hitchens was one of the most outspoken atheists in contemporary culture. As a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of God is Not Great, an atheist manifesto, he challenged religion with wit and a razor sharp intellect. Along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, Hitchens formed the so-called “New Atheists,” a sort of atheist revival following 9/11.

Some religious people villainize atheists as “The Enemy.” I disagree. As a matter of fact, it may surprise some to know that I have enjoyed reading these authors. I am thankful for the role that Hitchens played as one who questioned, not only relgious belief itself, but, more importantly to me, the practice of accepting beliefs without examination.

Hitchens and the other New Atheist authors simply question what many do not. While some of their points are straw man arguments against the worst examples of religious practice, they have also helped me to think about what I believe and why. They are often overly-provocative, but in a world of hype and anti-intellectualism, I appreciate anyone who makes me think.

Throughout history, people like Hitchens have protested evil committed in the name of religion, and because of dissenters like them, religious and government institutions have been challenged to reform. Specific to Church history, ironically, it has at times been the preaching of atheists that resulted in Christians acting more Christianly.  

Stating it as clearly as I am able, I believe that all religious people would benefit from being exposed to the thoughts of Christopher Hitchens. In a post-9/11 world, we realize that it is dangerous to hold beliefs that one has never questioned. More personally, my faith means far more to me now than it did before I allowed myself to test it.

Hitchens helped me to examine my faith. Someone as intelligent as Christopher Hitchens is hard to stump, but I like to imagine that it would make him scratch his head for a moment to hear that I am a better Christian because of him.

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2 thoughts on “A Pastor is Thankful for Christopher Hitchens

  1. Dear Mr. Gear,
    While ‘some’ of what this man said is true about “religion”, what about those who have faithfully followed the Lord and done what the Word has asked of them, only to have persons like Mr. Hitchens come along and make things even worse for those in the body of Christ, who may be ‘new babes’, struggling with their faith, etc.? How exactly has he “helped the cause of Christ”, when he went to his grave “disbelieving the very existence of the God who created Him and Jesus Christ as well? “His brother” who came to the Lord recently, also lamented over the fact of the ‘destruction’ that he and Mr. Hitchens caused by turning “many” away from knowing God as well. With the help of the Lord, Hitchen’s brother is trying earnestly (with the help of the Lord) to ‘repair’ some of the destructive damage caused by the stand that they took (Mainly by talking about the non-existence of God/Jesus Christ, and how those who follow “Them” are just as deceived), but he says he’s not so sure of how far he’ll get. Lastly, your story is your own, and if you felt lead to publish it and it helped you then that’s a good thing, but I also look at the horrific and soul destroying stands men (women, etc.) like this take in their delusions, by turning away those who NEED TO KNOW GOD/JESUS NOW MORE THAN EVER, and fall under their dangerously hypnotic and destructive lies and if they don’t turn to God/Jesus, are “forever lost” and that is tragic beyond belief.

  2. Pingback: An Atheist Pastor | ryan gear

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