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God Is Not Great: Christopher Hitchens
Now I have a Kindle it’s so easy to download and buy stuff – that’s good and bad. It’s good, for example because amongst other things I bought ‘God is not Great‘ for £0.99p. It’s bad because no matter what the format I still have to find time to read the stuff. A window of opportunity opened and so I began to read. It was also a time to find the drawback of the kindle I have of not being able to type notes fast enough and so it’s really hard work. I need a pen and a notepad with it. May I’ll get faster and improve with use.
I’m assuming he (Hitchens) will lay out his store as it were in the first chapter, so here’s a few points to be going on with from Chapter 1.
1. I like his style writing – he has [had] great skill with words and was obviously very well read.
2. I like his honesty. He tells it how he sees it. He calls a spade a spade as we say. And I like writers that do that. His honesty doesn’t extend however to a correct understanding of Christianity. He continuously (as does Dawkins) misrepresents Christianity (see point 3).
3. Sadly, from what I read he never ever really understood the Gospel. This view may be wrong – I guess his brother might know – but it’s how he writes.
4. He talks a lot about Religion. Yes Christianity is a Religion. And there can be stupid and very bad Christians – but this doesn’t actually invalidate it as truth. It certainly doesn’t help but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
There’s a big problem with the Title. For such a specific claim you would have thought it important to be specific about the God he is talking about. Is it the Christian God, the God of Islam or the God of his own imagination. Here’s just a couple of quotes.
Many of them never believed, and many of them abandoned faith after a difficult struggle. That might be his experience but it isn’t mine. And in any case even if it were true it still wouldn’t invalidate the truth claims of Christianity. All that proves is the weakness of the human condition. You say, why doesn’t God help them then. In my experience He does – for example my own mother that died of bone cancer and many other I know of.
‘We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry (Really! see paragraph below), open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.
God did not create man in his own image. Evidently (There are other explanations for so many religions but it doesn’t suit his case to give any evidence even if he could), it was the other way about, which is the painless explanation for the profusion of gods and religions, and the fratricide both between and among faiths, that we see all about us and that has so retarded the development of civilization.
Imagine that you can perform a feat of which I am incapable. Imagine, in other words, that you can picture an infinitely benign and all-powerful creator, who conceived of you, then made and shaped you, brought you into the world he had made for you, and now supervises and cares for you even while you sleep. Imagine, further, that if you obey the rules and commandments that he has lovingly prescribed, you will qualify for an eternity of bliss and repose. I do not say that I envy you this belief (because to me it seems like the wish for a horrible form of benevolent and unalterable dictatorship), but I do have a sincere question. Why does such a belief not make its adherents happy? It must seem to them that they have come into possession of a marvelous secret, of the sort that they could cling to in moments of even the most extreme adversity. This quotation serves to demonstrate his understanding of the Gospel is 100% wrong. Any decent historian may not believe it but should be able to tell you what it is. Sadly, Hitchens doesn’t have a clue and his readers will just slavishly and uncritically swallow it. His Atheism is poisoning everything!
Since reading the first chapter I have listened to a discussion of the book first broadcast back in 2008. This is a series of 8 available at Unchained Radio for $0.98 cents each. (I think they might be available for free) I’ve now listened to them all and I’d say they are worth every penny (I am English). To buy them go HERE. These guys are way more able than I am but demonstrate rather uncomfortably for Atheists that Christian apologists (especially Presuppositional apologists) have good solid scriptural apologetic arguments and the debating skills to take them on. I’m being polite when I say they (Paul Manata in this case) completely destroy Christopher Hitchens arguments, method, worldview and just about everything else besides. Whether he listened to the programs back then, I can’t say, but he was well able to defend himself at the time. The reason for ‘flagging them up’ here (he can no longer defend himself) is because as one of the ‘Four Horsemen’ an awful lot of weight will be given to his words. I have no doubt in the coming days we will be hearing a lot of his writing and of his legacy to the Atheistic cause.
After listening to Paul Manata discuss the book I am left wondering why Hitchens was so popular a writer. A book was mentioned in one of the broadcasts. With a Kindle it’s possible to download sample sections. So I read a sample of the book ‘On Bullshit‘ by philosopher Harry Frankfurt as it was recommended by Paul Manata. By the criteria of the book Dawkins, Hitchens and the other ‘Horsemen’ are probably no more than a bunch of ‘Bullshitters’ and people love it. Frankfurt has a sequel to ‘On Bullshit’ and it’s well worth reading the sample section of ‘On Truth’. Frankfurt thinks they (Bullshitters) are worse than liars. We need to make sure that as Christians we don’t follow their example.
Out of curiosity and a search through YouTube I found a video of an Atheist convention. Hitchens was filmed with an 8 (yes that’s Eight!) year old girl asking him what books she should read. He listed a few books and is amazed to find she had read them. Now here’s the thing: She said she wanted to be a Free Thinker just like him. We (Christians) are accused of indoctrination if we tell children about The Lord of Glory but if 8-year-old little girls are taken to an Atheist convention (her Mother stood proudly looking on) they are free thinkers. And Christians are accused of being closed-minded! That’s the end of this post – I’m speechless!
HT for the broadcasts to my friend Jim over at The Domain for Truth.
The Queen’s Christmas Speech 2011
Last evening at church our Pastor mentioned in his sermon the Queen’s speech (Elizabeth II) and how she had very strongly mentioned The Lord Jesus Christ. Wanting to check it out for myself I can confirm The Queen, contrary to many a spineless politician, spoke of Christ as a unique person. And in the context it’s not possible to interpret unique in the sense that we are all unique but clearly that Jesus is the Saviour and is Christ The Lord. There can only be one Lord – and It’s Jesus. You will find the full text of her speech HERE. But I’ve taken the liberty of posting the last few paragraphs below. To be honest I’m not really a Monarchist (I like the history though) but from the speech below we perhaps do have a Monarch whose faith truly is in Christ. Here’s a high-profile figure not afraid, or bound by ridiculous political correctness, diversity or intolerant tolerance to speak of faith in Christ and her own need of a Saviour and of forgiveness. God bless you.
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
‘For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed.
God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”
David Cameron, Christopher Hitchens, Martin Luther and Christianity
I cannot claim to see inside the heart of any man – this is the prerogative of God Himself ‘I the Lord search the heart’ but upon reading the recent speech by the Prime Minister I am left wondering what the (short-lived) fuss was about. He epitomises the art of the politician – to say much without saying anything. I struggled to find anything in his speech that gave a shred of confidence that he has any true understanding whatsoever of the Gospel of God at all. To apply The Gospel morally is to destroy it and ‘deny it’s power’.
Yesterday I began reading ‘Concerning Christian Liberty’ by Martin Luther (1483-1546) and the opening paragraph made me think of the speech by David Cameron.
‘CHRISTIAN faith has appeared to many an easy thing; nay, not a few even reckon it among the social virtues, as it were; and this they do because they have not made proof of it experimentally, and have never tasted of what efficacy it is. For it is not possible for any man to write well about it, or to understand well what is rightly written, who has not at some time tasted of its spirit, under the pressure of tribulation; while he who has tasted of it, even to a very small extent, can never write, speak, think, or hear about it sufficiently. For it is a living fountain, springing up into eternal life, as Christ calls it in John iv.’
I applied this to the PM because he would ‘even reckon it (Christianity) among the social virtues’ but deny it’s very heart. Why? Luther again, ‘this they do because they have not made proof of it experimentally, and have never tasted of what efficacy it is’. He betrays himself here as having never tasted the efficacy of The Gospel. Now this is a very sad situation. I will also just make this very important point because the PM is extremely careful not to upset anyone, he has to deny the exclusive truth claims of the Christian faith. Of course people are free to believe whatever they wish. But, either Christianity is true and the others are false, or Christianity is false. If people were to spot it, the PM is really on the horns of a dilemma. This has not been picked up.
I was really thrilled as I read of the Gospel in the writing of Luther. And yet at the same time saddened that so many have not the foggiest idea as to its truth. In writing of Christopher Hitchens some have quoted the phrase “We are created sick and commanded to be well” and again through the darkness of their understanding completely miss the thrust of the Gospel message. Here’s Luther again on this very point:
‘Now when a man has through the precepts been taught his own impotence, and become anxious by what means he may satisfy the law-for the law must be satisfied, so that no jot or tittle of it may pass away, otherwise he must be hopelessly condemned-then, being truly humbled and brought to nothing in his own eyes, he finds in himself no resource for justification and salvation.
Then comes in that other part of Scripture, the promises of God, which declare the glory of God, and say, “If you wish to fulfil the law, and, as the law requires, not to covet, lo! believe in Christ, in whom are promised to you grace, justification, peace and liberty.” All these things you shall have, if you believe, and shall be without them if you do not believe. For what is impossible for you by all the works of the law, which are many and yet useless, you shall fulfil in an easy and summary way through faith, because God the Father has made everything to depend on faith, so that whosoever has it has all things, and he who has it not has nothing. “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all” (Rom. xi, 32). Thus the promises of God give that which the precepts exact, and fulfil what the law commands; so that all is of God alone, both the precepts and their fulfillment. He alone commands; He alone also fulfils. Hence the promises of God belong to the New Testament; nay, are the New Testament.’
So we have in the misunderstanding of the enemies of the Gospel the default position of fallen humanity – Works. This is what it comes down to ultimately every time. The Gospel of the Grace of God is completely counter to this. It’s no wonder that to bring a person to faith it takes the extraordinary work of God to do so. We cannot do it, and will not do it. Praise God for the Gospel. This is what the Incarnation is all about – God doing something amazing. Let’s thank God for sending Christ.
BTW Concerning Christian Liberty is available in Kindle format for free via Amazon.
The Early Church
I’ve just starting reading Henry Chadwick‘s volume ‘The Penguin History of the Church, vol.1: The Early Church‘. The opening paragraph was so good I have quoted it in full below.
‘The first Christians were Jews. They differed from their fellow-countrymen by their faith that in Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah of the nation’s expectation had now come. They took it for granted that his coming, being a fulfilment, must be continuous with the past revelation of God to his people and not mean a break either with the old covenant made with Abraham, symbolized by circumcision, or with the Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. If something new had happened, it was the action of one and the same God, Creator of the world, Lord of History, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs. His new word to his people must be consistent with that spoken in the past by the prophets.’