Christianity,  Culture

The Faith of Tim Russert

Don’t miss Jon Meacham’s compelling article on Tim Russert’s earnest Roman Catholic faith. One of the great anecdotes from the article is story of Russert trying to convince Meacham to appear on “Meet the Press” to “defend the faith” against the atheism of Christopher Hitchens.

“Hello, brother,” the baritone rumbled on the other end of the phone. “I’ve got a great deal for you.” It was Tim Russert, and there was a twinkle in his tone—the kind of twinkle that suggested what was in the offing was anything but a good deal. “Have you read Hitch yet?” My stomach tightened: Christopher Hitchens, the terrific provocateur, had just published a sulfurous attack on religious faith, and I feared what was coming. “You gotta come down and defend the faith, Brother,” Russert said. Hitchens was slated to come on Russert’s weekend cable show, and Russert wanted a countervailing voice on the program. A devout Catholic, Russert knew I was an Episcopalian, but I had an old rule that I would never debate Hitchens about anything—he is one of the great intellects and wits of the age—since there was no chance I would ever win. I tried to demur, but Russert closed in as though he were cornering a politician on a Sunday morning. “It’s the faith, Brother,” he said. “I can’t do it—I’m the moderator. But it’ll be great.”

“God, Politics and the Making of a Joyful Warrior” – by Jon Meacham (Newsweek)


  • Rufus

    Good reminder that despite the divide that exists between Protestants and Catholics, there is a simple Gospel which many on both sides still believe.

  • Ken

    I don’t know if the encounter between Meacham and Hitchens ever took place; if not, Meacham was right to demur. His is not the right style to go up against the likes of Christopher Hitchens. Someone in the vein of Greg Bahnsen or William Lane Craig–a guy who knows the philosophical issues and the history cold and can think on his feet–is far more suitable.

  • Paul


    I agree that Meacham is not the guy to debate Hitchens. However, I disagree that Bahnsen or Craig could do it either. The one time I saw Craig at an apologetics conference, I saw him pulling the ultimate debate no-no, using the Bible to back up the Bible.

    On the other hand, I honestly think that Ravi Zaccharias could verbally slap Hitchens around quite a bit and would be a truly fascinating debate.

  • David Hamilton

    I would have accepted Russert’s offer, and here’s why. I, like Meacham, am no match for Hitchen’s intellect and wit. However, I stand on the side of truth. The Gospel is the truth. No matter how intellectual or witty falsehood may be, it is still falsehood and cannot stand up against the truth.

    On my own, there is no chance that I would win such a debate. But “who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

    The same God who is sovereign over physical giants is sovereign over intellectual giants.

    Before you count these words as great faith (if you count them anything at all), let me put them in their place: My faith is nothing to write home about, so to speak. My faith is minuscule. But my God is great. I could not win in a debate with Hitchens, but my God would have no more trouble with him than He had with Goliath.

  • David Hamilton

    Brent, I totally agree with you. Dr. Tom Schreiner preached a great sermon on that in Houston a few months ago- that we are not the Champion in that story, Christ is. The connection that I was making wasn’t necessarily between myself and David, as much as it was that the same God that felled the physical giant can just as easily fell intellectual giants.

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