The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

with 10 comments

Earlier this week I read The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith by Peter Hitchens. Today, in a curious conjunction of circumstances, I discover that Peter’s older brother, Christopher, has died. Peter’s book was written in the context of his deep difference of opinion with Christopher over faith, subjectively and objectively.

I just looked out my Christopher Hitchens books. I never made it to God is Not Great. Maybe I will sometime. My first Hitchens volume was Prepared for the Worst, which – despite the date that I have in my personal copy – I know I read while in secondary school. It was a loan from one of my teachers and I was delighted by Hitchens’ wit and skill with words (I remember it distinctly because I recall the conversation which followed in which I bemoaned the fact that Hitchens could get away with writing things with words that I was told were inappropriate, and that particular teacher replying that the use of a word by a writer like Hitchens in a thoughtful context made it, by definition, a suitable word in that context, an argument that signally failed to move the aptly named Mrs Ironside when I later employed some of Hitchens’ richer invective). I moved on later to Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies, which has the more accurate date of “Autumn 93” scribbled into it.

Justin Taylor, in a gracious obituary, writes:

He was a brilliant and entertaining man. He was enormously gifted, and in his final years he took those gifts and used them to mock God, using his considerable wit and sharp tongue to convince as many people as possible to do the same.

I knew that Hitchens was no believer, but I did not realise the extent of his antagonism to God. Perhaps it intensified over time, as such things are apt to do. As one who can recognise at least some of Hitchens’ contentions and antagonisms in his own history, I grieve that every indication is that he went to his grave and to his judgement with his brilliant stubbornness intact:

Even if my voice goes before I do, I shall continue to write polemics against religious delusions, at least until it’s hello darkness my old friend. In which case, why not cancer of the brain? As a terrified, half-aware imbecile, I might even scream for a priest at the close of business, though I hereby state while I am still lucid that the entity thus humiliating itself would not in fact be “me.” (Bear this in mind, in case of any later rumors or fabrications.)

I say this not because it is impossible that, before his death, Hitchens turned from his sin. Rather, I say it with the penetrating knowledge that, in the paraphrased words of (I believe) John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God goes Jeremy Walker.” I say it, too, fully confident that, if he did turn from sin, repenting of those aggressive blasphemies so characteristic of his later output, and if he put his faith in Jesus, the blood of Christ is sufficient to have made him clean. This, indeed, is the hope of sinners like you and me, and the hope of all the world.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 16 December 2011 at 09:45

10 Responses

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  1. Excellent view thank you


    Phil Johston

    Friday 16 December 2011 at 09:54

  2. Brother, I really don’t believe Wilson was speaking of infant-baptism as a “cover all.” A few paragraphs earlier, he said, “We have no indication that Christopher ever called on the Lord before he died, and if he did not, then Scriptures plainly teach that he is lost forever.” I think Wilson’s point merely was that, just like the thief on the cross, he could have believed as he was dying. I think he brought up the sprinkling because it’s sad that he grew up in a professedly Christian community and bore the name Christopher, and yet he was so anti-Christian.


    Friday 16 December 2011 at 17:37

    • Thank you for your comment. Not being confident that I have the right end of the stick, I have withdrawn the potentially unfair remark.

      Jeremy Walker

      Friday 16 December 2011 at 22:24

      • Thanks!


        Saturday 17 December 2011 at 00:50

  3. Pastor Walker, I too was very thrown off about that comment made about Wilson. How did you read all of what he wrote in CT obituary and gather that? He merely mentions it, probably pointing to the fact that it’s not just sad that he rejected his being brought up in a christian atmosphere but unless he had repented and believed in the last hours his baptism, upbringing and name all the more condemn him. Honestly, it seems very unfair to Pastor Wilson. I thought the CT obituary that he did was very good.


    Friday 16 December 2011 at 18:30

    • As with Marie, thank you for your comment. Not being confident that I have the right end of the stick, I have withdrawn the potentially unfair remark.

      Jeremy Walker

      Friday 16 December 2011 at 22:25

      • I appreciate the humility expressed, thanks for listening, I appreciate you taking time out to write on the events as well. Our God is indeed merciful, and there is great hope in Him!


        Saturday 17 December 2011 at 01:40

        • Amen!


          Saturday 17 December 2011 at 01:55

  4. Thanks for this thoughtful piece on Hitchens. Something which has blessed me enormously in the wake of his passing is the charity and humility with which Christians have written about a man whose perspectives and objectives were so at odds with their own.

    I particularly like your final line – highlighting as it does the rich, free grace of our God to all who will repent.

    Andrew Roycorft

    Friday 16 December 2011 at 23:56

  5. Thanks for this. It’s a tragedy when such a gifted man is so opposed to the Gospel. As far as we can tell he was lost – but we do not know for sure, such is the grace of God.


    Wednesday 21 December 2011 at 12:50

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