Christianity,  News

Doug Wilson Warns against Errors of Speculation about Christopher Hitchens

If you haven’t already read Doug Wilson’s affectionate tribute to Christopher Hitchens in Christianity Today, you should do so now. It is among the best you’ll find among the scores that have appeared today in major news outlets around the world.

Wilson added some additional reflections about Christiopher Hitchens in the video above. Wilson summarized the gist of it this way:

I caution Christians against two errors — and both of them are errors of speculation. The possibility of last minute conversions must never be turned into actual last minute conversions. No one is wished into Heaven. There have been too many unbelievers preached into Heaven at the funeral, and we ought not to give way to the false tenderness of that impulse. At the same time, the likelihood that Christopher never called on Christ should not be turned into a hard-line dogmatic statement, followed by “good riddance.” No one is wished into Hell either. We ought not to greet the news of Christopher’s death the way he greeted the death of Jerry Falwell’s, for example.

The bad news is that we are all under judgment. The good news is that the one who has faith in Jesus may be forgiven. We must unashamedly declare these terms to the whole world — but declaring the terms of judgment (which Scripture requires us to do) is not the same thing as playing the Judge ourselves. We leave the soul of Christopher Hitchens (and he did have a soul, despite all his arguments) in the hands of God, who will do nothing but right.

All of this is of course consistent with the affection I had for Christopher. Our prayers and condolences are with his family and friends.

Watch the rest of it above.


  • jigawatt

    I had forgotton about Hitchens’ comments to Anderson Cooper *on the day of* Jerry Falwell’s death. I wonder what all those guys who commented on your earlier post think of this:

    “COOPER: Christopher, I’m not sure if you believe in heaven, but, if you do, do you think Jerry Falwell is in it?

    HITCHENS: No. And I think it’s a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to.”

  • Paul

    And? Jerry Falwell was a blight upon Christianity. When he helped to turn Christianity into a tool for politics (and that’s the truth…conservative Christians might want to see it the other way around, but the proof is in the pudding), he ceased to be a light on a hill. He could have been a great voice for God with a conservative political viewpoint, but instead was a loud voice for the Republican party with a Christian viewpoint. I would be shocked if he wasn’t a stumbling block for some on the left to come to Christ. At which point, God’s own Word would say that he’s in Hell anyway.

  • Paul

    Now, as to why I originally came to post on this…I just watched Collision last night. Wow. I’m not really the biggest fan of Wilson’s blog, but throughout the course of that movie, he displayed tons of grace, class, wit and wisdom. And I think Hitchens helped to push him to think even more about what he believed and why. It was great, and it was faith affirming. I’m genuinely glad I saw it.

  • jigawatt

    Paul, several commenters on Denny’s earlier post said that it was disrespectful, in poor taste, etc, especially since it was so soon after Hitchens’ passing. But Hitchens’ himself made such remarks as the above immediately after Falwell’s death, remarks that (I hope) they would agree are even more disrespectful and in even poorer taste.

    But we hear no condemnation of Hitchens for those words, at least not from them. Seems hypocritical to me.

    And Re: Collision, I also enjoyed it, and I would recommend it to anyone, Christian, atheist, or whatever.

  • Paul

    I was not one of those posters. I also think that Falwell, Robertson, Franklin Graham, Jim Wallis, and all of the hyper-politicized preachers are doing far more evil than good, regardless of which side of the line they’re on. So, no, no condemnation from me, sorry.

  • Paul

    my words: HYPER-politicized.

    your words: being political.

    The difference between those two turns of phrase is huge. As I said before, Falwell on the right and Wallis on the left are (were) political mouthpieces who just happen to be Christians. Falwell wins votes on the right by tying Christianity to his pet political views, and Wallis does the same on the left. God is not a politician, and the same God that knit us in the womb also mentioned in Ezekiel that Israel fell to the Babylonians because she neglected her widows and orphans. Saying that God must be all for lower taxes on the wealthy or all for gay rights is to make God small enough to compartmentalize. I don’t believe that’s right for a second. Both sides’ hyper-politicization of God is poisonous, and might just border on blasphemy.

    • yankeegospelgirl

      But surely there are things you feel you’ve gotten right, where you’re certain God would approve. What if we changed the subject a little and applied your logic by saying, “Saying that God must be all for a ban on racial discrimination is to make God small enough to compartmentalize. I don’t believe that’s right for a second.”

      God initially gave each of us a moral compass for a reason. Now unfortunately, some people have tossed it around like a piece of junk until it’s become dirty and broken (read: most of the left). But often, our deepest instincts for what is right and wrong are worth trusting precisely because God put them there.

      • Paul

        “God initially gave each of us a moral compass for a reason. Now unfortunately, some people have tossed it around like a piece of junk until it’s become dirty and broken (read: most of the left).”

        Don’t go throwing that one around as a right vs. left thing. I know far too many folks on the right who are only on the right for the economic end of it and want social conservatives to take one giant leap into a lake. Including most of the folks funding the campaigns of Republicans throughout the country.

        I will grant you that there are more atheists and folks with sketchy moral compasses on the left than right. But there are plenty of Christians on the political left, and you need to acknowledge them without scorn.

        As for your example, that such a thing was EVER an issue speaks directly to the fact that American Exceptionalism is a total joke, and NOT that the folks on one end of the political spectrum had it right and one end had it wrong. Sure, there were southern conservatives that filibustered against the civil rights bill. But there were also liberals that fled the cities for the suburbs in order to keep distance from the blacks. Let’s face it, white flight probably did just as much damage to Chicago and Detroit as some of the Jim Crow laws did in the south.

        • yankeegospelgirl

          Oh, I fully acknowledge there are plenty of people who fall into the Republican party that don’t deserve an iota of support. However, as you yourself have granted, they are regarded as sad exceptions to common conservative standards. On the left, there are no standards. Frankly, I have questions as to whether it is possible for somebody to be completely and utterly wrong on such vital issues as abortion and homosexuality and be a true Christian at the same time. At the very least, such a person is in desperate need of proper discipling. I refuse to withhold my “scorn” from idiotic people who cannot tell the difference between plain right and plain wrong.

          • Paul

            “Frankly, I have questions as to whether it is possible for somebody to be completely and utterly wrong on such vital issues as abortion and homosexuality and be a true Christian at the same time.”

            Then again, how many Christians on the political left have you actually engaged on the subjects at hand? Probably very few. Yet you’re quick to label them as idiots.

          • Paul

            and, to address the first part of your statement…

            Republicans RUNNING for office? Yes, they ALL pay lip service to the social right (though I thoroughly believe that only a small percentage actually believe in the whole of the Christian Conservative viewpoints).

            Republicans BEHIND THE SCENES? You had best believe that the social right is a significant minority, but a minority none the less, and if they could figure out a way to jettison you, they would in a heartbeat. The numbers of gay Republicans in behind the scenes leadership roles would blow your mind. Then add in all of the banker types that will vote for anyone that promises not to regulate their industry, and you’re talking about a way different coalition than most of the folks here would ever dare admit to.

          • yankeegospelgirl

            I know this will shock you, but yes, I actually have engaged liberals and moral relativists in moral debates. And I have watched others engage them, and I’ve seen what they’ve written, what they march for, and what they stand for. And what they don’t stand for.

    • Nate

      Paul, you seem to be implying that being a Christian and desiring smaller government is sinning against widows and orphans. First, God judged Israel (a theocracy) for not following His Law, not because they wanted to change a secular government. Second, the Christian community has extended itself outside the boundary of believers with orphanages, hospitals, and disaster relief for well over a century. Why do you think most hospitals (before secular corporations took them over) used to be called St. this, Baptist that, or Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.

      Now, if you are not implying that, then why the analogy between a theocracy (Israel with Ezekiel) and Christians, who, for righteous or unrighteous reasons, attempt to back candidates, etc. The analogy doesn’t wash.

      Christians and Christian organizations have consistently given more charitable contributions than secular agencies in the history of this country to issues here at home and abroad. I would argue that Christians would give even more if the government would get out of our pocket, but regardless, Christians outgive atheists and secularists by a mile. It would seem that the atheists and secularists simply want the government to do their charitable work for them. Unfortunately the government hasn’t proven efficient, honest or capable of taking care of the widows and orphans. But they sure have encouraged out-of-wedlock births and impoverishment of minorities by their assinine guidelines of support. Start with LBJ’s Great Society and crunch the data.

          • Paul

            Nope, not at all. I was talking about hyper-politicized preachers and how God is bigger than one political party’s platform. Nate decided to chime in with a polemic that is only tangentially relevant to the conversation.

            Also, since we’re all Christians here in this discussion, why bring up how much atheists give to charity? Yes, it’s less, but it’s also not relevant to the discussion. Relevant to a crazy rant about those terrible liberals? Maybe. But not to the discussion at hand.

            Finally, while government has made a mess out of SOME of the situations that they’ve been involved in, they’ve also done a few better than any charitable organization ever could – Head Start and Medicare to name two. Neither are perfect, but both are a vast improvement over nothing. But again, that’s an entirely different discussion than the one that was happening at the moment.

            What next Nate? Want to bring up Tebow in this one too?

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