Christopher Hitchens: The Orthodox Protestant Atheist
By BE SCOFIELD - TIKKUN DAILY
Updated: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 12:06:27 UTC
Thanks to LochRaven for the link.
Despite having engaged in numerous debates with Christians, Muslims and Jews across the liberal/conservative spectrum Christopher Hitchens still holds to an amazingly ignorant understanding of the liberal religious heritage. His understanding of who is and who isnât a Christian is perhaps the most disappointing and surprising piece of evidence for his myopic interpretation of religion. While rejecting conservative Christiansâ theological claims about God, the Bible and Jesus, he accepts their understanding of who is and is not able to be considered a Christian. In a recent interview with Marilyn Sewell, a Unitarian Universalist minister and self-professed liberal Christian, Christopher Hitchens paraphrased C.S. Lewis to explain the boundaries of who constitutes a Christian. Itâs not surprising then that a recent blog post by Dr. Ray Pritchard of âKeep Believing Ministriesâ for a conservative Christian site called Crosswalk was entitled, âChristopher Hitchens Gets it Exactly Right.â
During a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, noted atheist Christopher Hitchens laid down some seriously good theology… In one of the delicious ironies of our time, an outspoken atheist grasps the central tenet of Christianity better than many Christians do. What you believe about Jesus Christ really does make a difference.
What did Hitchens say?
Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. Iâm a liberal Christian, and I donât take the stories from the scripture literally. I donât believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?
Hitchens: I would say that if you donât believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, youâre really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.
Why is Hitchens so quick to accept such an orthodox interpretation of the boundaries of Christianity? His brain seems to short-circuit when he has to think about religion in complex ways. He wants to hold firmly to an either/or dichotomy–the very same one which he is critiquing fundamentalism for.
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Why should he sit still and see a valued and precious discipline being insulted, even threatened with not being taught?