C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Atheist Presents Gospel, Christian Exposes Unbelief

Apparently, the known atheists Christopher Hitchens sat down with the former ‘minister’ of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Marilyn Sewell, for an interview. The discussion was based around Hitchens book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Interestingly, Hitchens describes himself through the words of Pascal, ‘in his Pensées, his great apology for Christianity—“so made that they cannot believe”,’ declaring he is one of the ‘10 percent of us (who) just never can bring themselves to take religion seriously.’ Though, he does not deny ‘religion as natural to humans’ or that ‘we do seem in the majority to have a tendency to worship, and to look for patterns that lead to supernatural conclusions,’ it would seem that he apparently believes he was created (or evolved) without equal proneness to such things within his own being. He notes, it’s not because of intellect, so must it be natural selection? I jest.

In question #4, Hitchens not only presents the gospel, but also exposes Sewell’s unbelief all in one sentence:

The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

I would say that if you don’t 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, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

From here, the interview seems to turn from Sewell asking Hitchens of his unbelief (atheism), to Hitchens further exposing Sewell’s unbelief of Christian theology and doctrine. Hitchens declares, ‘Paul says, very clearly, that if it is not true that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then we the Christians are of all people the most unhappy. If none of that’s true, and you seem to say it isn’t, I have no quarrel with you.’ Later, Sewell even shares, ‘I don’t know whether or not God exists in the first place, let me just say that…I choose to believe because—and this is a very practical thing for me—I seem to live with more integrity when I find myself accountable to something larger than myself.’

Hitchens does make a valid point regarding works, in that he says: ‘any good action by a religious person could be duplicated or matched, if not surpassed, by someone who didn’t believe in god,’ which focuses on the ‘works based salvation’ presented by many professing Christians. People, both of the saved and unsaved, do both good and bad works in the flesh, but the differences is that God also judges the motives (the heart) behind the works, and the faith and unbelief associated with them. So, although we can see persons do good deeds, even marvelous selfless acts of kindness, it does not, in and of itself, ensure them the immortality of heaven. Repentance of sin and faith in Christ does; though good deeds should not be absent, but flow forth from such quickening of the spirit (Ephesians 2:8-10).

In the interview, I can’t determine who deserves more remorse. The atheist who declares he was created without the ability to believe, or the professing Christian who claims she agrees not only with ‘almost everything’ the atheist says but while stating she takes the Scriptures seriously (and even reads her grandmother’s Bible), she isn’t sober enough to take it literally nor any of the teachings.

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John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.