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Monday, December 19, 2011

Could Christopher Hitchins be in Heaven?

Could arch-atheist Christopher Hitchens be in Heaven? His Anglican brother, Peter Hitchens recently wrote that "he no longer held hope to convert his brother, whom he described as having "bricked himself up high in his atheist tower, with slits instead of windows from which to shoot arrows at the faithful.""

Russell D. Moore raises an interesting point in today's edition of Baptist Press concerning the potential for where the deraly departed Mr. Hitchens is possibly spending eternity...

"..I'm not sure Christopher Hitchens is in hell right now. It's not because I believe there's a "second chance" after death for salvation (I don't). It's not because I don't believe in hell or in God's judgment (I do). It's because of a sermon I heard years ago that haunts me to this day, reminding me of the sometimes surprising persistence of the Gospel.

Fifteen or so years ago, I heard an old Welsh pastor preach on Jesus' encounter with the thieves on the cross. The preacher paused to speculate about whether the penitent thief might have had any God-fearing friends or family members. If so, he said, they probably would never have known about the terrorist's final act, his appeal to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). They never would have heard Jesus pronounce, "Today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).

These believing family members and friends would have assumed, all their lives, that this robber was in hell, especially dying as he did under the visible judgment of God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). They would have been shocked to meet this man in the Kingdom of God. "We thought you were in hell," they might have said, as they danced around him in the heavenly places.

That sermon changed everything for me about the way I preach funerals for unbelievers. Now, death bed conversions are very rare. Typically, a conscience is so seared by then, so given over to the darkening of the mind, that the Gospel rarely is heard. We shouldn't count on last-second repentance.

But, however rarely, it does happen, and who knows? Perhaps you have relatives who, in the last seconds of breath, breathed out a silent prayer of repentance and faith. You might be as surprised as the thief's believing cohort."

Christopher Hitchens certainly was an interesting fellow. I'm sure that the former adjunct professor had some time to contemplate his fate in his final days. I hope for his sake all of the bombastic diatribes he launched against Christianity were mere bluster to sell books and that he examined his heart with a clear mind during his final days. Either way, he now knows the truth and may God rest his soul.


JD Curtis said...

What if Havel met Hitchens at the Pearly Gates?

BT Murtagh said...

Not a chance. Hitch's mind was clear to the end, by all accounts, and there is no reason whatsoever to think he suddenly threw over the conviction of decades to embrace wish-thinking. He doesn't know the truth or anything else now; he is dead, having died as he lived, unafraid. I hope I go with as much dignity and integrity.