Sunday, September 30, 2007

Beating up Straw Men

I'm in Chicago in a Hotel room, and for whatever reason I flipped on the tube and caught the Saturday, 9/29/07 Tim Russet MSNBC show. The topic was a debate between two authors, Christopher Hitchens who just wrote an anti religious book and a Christian dude that wrote a Christian book called The American Gospel.

Firstly, I love Hitchens. I think he has a sharp mind and I like a lot of what he has to say. I thought compared to the Christian dude that was doing a sad job of defending Jesus Hitchens was his mental superior. Yet I felt bad for Hitchens, because he is fighting against God and he is blind.

Hitchens is basically saying the there is no God and religion is anti progressive. The sad thing is that the two are not linked, where I think in Hitchen's mind they are. I bet if I picked up Hitchens's new book I would agree with 90% of Hitchens's criticisms of religion. Religion is ultimately man's attempt to pervert the truth of God for his own agenda. Maybe humans aren't comfortable with the fact that they can't earn their own salvation. Man tries to develop a system so that man can earn God's favor and differentiate himself from his fellow men. Hitchens sees the insanity of this, and tasks his sharp mind with picking religion apart.

Yet I wish Hitchens would watch himself on Tim Russet. He makes statements like “Humans seem to be designed to worship.” Why Chris? That is just one example of a few on the show where I think if Hitchens stepped outside of his anti religious dogma and really pondered the philosophical questions he himself brings up he might realize that the existence of God, not necessarily as man defines them, seems to be the best explanation for things such as right and wrong, the reason for being, where we all come from and why are we here.

Hitchens brought up an interesting point that actually really scared me when I took it a different direction then Chris did. He talked about if there was a really all knowing God, he would feel like he would be under 100% mental surveillance, and would have no privacy, and would feel obligated to just sit around worshiping God like God was some North Norean dictator. The sad and beautiful thing is in a sense Chris is right on. All our thoughts, actions, motivations, deeds, what have you, are constantly recorded and will one day be judged. Chris rightly assessed that for Chris this would go badly. In fact for all of us it will go badly. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all fail. We are all hell bound. That is why Jesus, the triune God, stepped into human flesh and came down and paid the price for all sin that was or ever will be committed by all humans that have ever existed or ever will. He asks us simply to believe that Jesus did this, and to allow Jesus to live in our hearts so that even though we will still sin, Jesus will begin to transform us in ways that we can't do ourself to live our lives “more abundantly”, lives in fellowship with God and away from things that displease God. But even if we do fall, Jesus says that He will “never forsake us or leave us” since we are new creatures in God's eyes and our spiritual selves have been “born again”.

Christopher Hitchens is right though in assuming that God's presence would completely ruin our ability to choose right or wrong. So God hides his presence from us. You don't see God Chris because God loves you enough to hide His presence from you so that you will have the freedom to choose to be saved or choose to live in willful ignorance of God. Don't get me wrong, creation declares that there is a God and God will hold all men accountable for that knowledge (see Romans chapter 1). Those who respond to this knowledge God will draw to Himself and they will know that Jesus is their savior and become born again.

But Chris, you and I are in the same boat in a lot of ways. I'm a Christian, who believes that Jesus is the only way of Salvation (John 14:6), but yet I am in willful, knowing sin right now. After the initial guilt it got easier because there was no immediate feedback. Romans 2:4-5, 2 Peter 3:9 talk about God not being slack in his promise of judgment, but is patient with us, not willing that we should perish but that we should repent. Chris, I hope your war against God is really just your road into his loving arms, and I hope my sinful journey is just a temporal thing. If not, we both might be in serious trouble, where we wind up facing a Holy God who will hold us to account for everything wrong that we have done. Jesus save us and we ask from mercy and not judgment.

I will be praying for you Hitchens, other Christians please pray for me.

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