Okay, I know I already posted about Christopher Hitchens, but some of the chatter on the blogosphere has prompted further reflection.
This post, written by an unbeliever, sums up the confusion that unbelievers are sharing in response to the way some Christians have reacted to Hitchen’s death. Many Christians are sadly rejoicing in his death, causing unbelievers to scoff at their supposed religion of love. My focus in this post however, is on another group. Whether it be due to his charm or charisma, some Christians are attempting to leave room for Hitchens in heaven by saying things like- “We can’t know the mind of God so there’s no way to tell Hitchens’s fate.” This cowardly hedging is undermining the gospel, and the hypocrisy is not missed by unbelievers. The unbelieving blogger in the previously cited post points this out clearly:
“when presented with the apparent fait accompli of a decent, gifted, beloved guy like Hitchens being thrown to the fire, group three [Christians who say we can’t know] gets nervous and tries to carve out a “well, maybe God will cut him a break” exemption. Their religion says he deserves eternal damnation but their conscience tells them that’s unfair, so … they hedge. If conscience is divinely inspired, why hedge?”
Do we really believe what we say we believe? Does our professed soteriology (doctrine of salvation) waver when it is confronted by unbelievers with the awful reality of hell, and the death of “good” non-believers? The bible is very clear on the fate of those who reject God, and any attempts by Christians to gain approval from the unbelieving crowd by downplaying hell will be sniffed out for what it is: hypocrisy.
Now, I am not saying that it is impossible for Hitchen’s to have made a last minute conversion. The incident of the thief on the cross clearly shows that it is never too late to accept Christ, and I really do hope that in the end Hitchens chose Jesus. I am saying however, that if Hitchens never professed Jesus as his Lord and his God, then he is in hell. Using passages such as Matthew 25, where both the saved and the damned express surprise at God’s decision regarding their eternal state, some Christians attempt to find ‘loopholes’ in Scripture. Surely, many self-righteous men will be shocked to face an eternity in hell. Surely too will many sinners, possessing a simple faith in Christ, express surprise at being granted eternal life on the basis of Christ’s merits. But no man who blatantly rejects Christ will find God. 1 John 2:22-25 makes it all too clear:
“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us— eternal life”
In fact, the repeated theme of 1 John is tests by which we can know if we are in Christ. Christians who attempt to soften the reality of hell by saying “we can’t know the mind of God and can’t possibly know who is in hell” are completely undermining the gospel for the sake of being accepted by the world. Equally damaging to the gospel are the supposed Christians who are taking pleasure in Hitchen’s death (another of 1 John’s evidences of salvation is love for one another!).
Why does hell become more difficult for Christians to preach when the dead man in question was charming, literate, and passionate? I didn’t see a single blog post on the possibility of Kim Jong Il being in heaven “because we don’t know the mind of God”. If Christopher Hitchens or Kim Jong Il is in heaven, and either of them very well may be, it will not be because God valued their philanthropic efforts. It will not be because God credited whatever good they did in the world as in His name, even though they didn’t realize they were doing it in His name. No. They were both found wanting as sinners at the judgment seat of God. Only if, in faith, they claimed the righteousness of Christ will we meet them in heaven. And that goes for every one of us, whether you are a proclaimed atheist, a bible belt Baptist, or an evil dictator.