As authour of, “God Is Not Great. How Religion Poisons Everything”, the mention of the late Christopher Hitchens conjures up raging polemics against God. His infamy for this, especially in debates has generated a new verb which speaks of his opponent being “Hitchslapped”.
Little wonder with excoriating tirades like these…
And that’s just a sampler. Also known as “the World’s Most Notorious Atheist”, Hitchens himself characteristically goes further…
“I am not even an atheist so much as an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful. Reviewing the false claims of religion I do not wish, as some sentimental materialists affect to wish, that they were true. I do not envy believers their faith. I am relieved to think that the whole story is a sinister fairy tale;…I cannot imagine anything more horrible or grotesque.”
So when a book comes out talking about his friendship with a Christian, you’d think it is a tale of fiction. Well, it’s not. And having been given the privilege of reviewing an advanced copy of it, here are some thoughts on a book which is as inspiring and instructive as the relationship on which it is based.
It’s written by Larry Taunton, the Christian in this most unlikely of friendships.
The Faith Of Christopher Hitchens
“Behind Every Question Is A Questioner” comes from the RZIM core module. I highly recommend it.
Without giving too much away, the book is a vivid portrait of this thought – Behind Every Question Is A Questioner.
Hitchens may talk up a tempest against God but there was much more happening under the surface than met the eye. In part, that was due to the way he meticulously kept his private life and thoughts out of his public ones. Not a recommended lifestyle but one which reveals how some would ask you to do similarly. It did however make for opportunities to connect with “ideological foes” as evident from his friendship with Larry Taunton.
The chapter on Christopher’s father starts with a sobering and challenging reminder…
“At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family — from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.”
1 Samuel 3:12–13
Christopher had challenges in his upbringing and with his father. An alcoholic and a man who did not lead his household (at least by Christopher’s account), his father and therefore Christopher is an unfortunate reminder of the reality that many who rebel against Our Heavenly Father started first with their earthly father. That he was innoculated against God by a distorted cultural representation of Him didn’t help either.
This sowed the ground from which grew his atheism. A tangled jungle of it. And Hitchens became quite the king of that jungle, prowling his domain red in tooth and claw. Anti-God and proud of it, he traveled the world with a zeal that fueled his rhetoric, stirring up legions of “fans” to join his cause.
Of all the challenges he issued his theistic opponents, perhaps the greatest of them all was himself. Pride bypassed his formidable mind, keeping him fettered to atheism. There but by The Grace of God and humility go we.
And the relationship itself on which this book is based is a further challenge to us. Are we Christ like enough to push through the storm to see the person floundering beneath it? Can we see beyond the facade to the true face and heart of the person questioning or indeed, raging against God? Larry did and one cannot help but be saddened and wonder how Christopher’s life would have bloomed had he met someone of that caliber earlier. Therein is the greatest challenge to us all.
Given the list of glowing and prominent recommendations for this book, it is redundant that I add mine but here it is:
“The Faith Of Christopher Hitchens” is Godly, caring, inspiring and instructive, just like the authour. One would be hard pressed to find a book which is recommended by the leaders of such opposing worldviews like Ravi Zacariahs and Eric Metaxis (Christians) and Michael Shermer (publisher of Skeptic, a prominent atheist magazine) but like this extraordinary relationship, it does exist and is this very book. In an increasingly polarised and confrontational world, we need more of both.
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”