Christopher Hitchens Knows Christianity Better Than Some “Christians”
Via Rod Dreher, we get this gem of an interview blurb:
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.
The interviewer is Marilyn Sewell, a Unitarian Universalist. The interviewee? Christopher Hitchens, famous polemicist and atheist.
I think there’s a lot of people who, when hearing that I no longer identify as an evangelical Christian, presume I’m either an atheist or have found another religion (Catholicism, Orthodox, Islam, Zoroastrianism, whatever). Hardly.
To be honest, I don’t know what I am. I do know that the tradition I have the most experience with is evangelicalism, and that history will forever color my views. I do know that I’ve found evangelicalism hollow, and, I cannot stress this enough, the disappointment is not for lack of trying. I have bona fides like few people I know. Whether you want Vacation Bible School stories, Christian Rock concert stories, or Veggie Tales stories (to my eternal shame, I still own a Bob The Tomato doll that dances and sings when you squeeze the stem): I got loads of ’em. But I went through all that to end up in my mid-twenties feeling utterly bereft of comfort or love from that life. I still have deep affection for those of my friends and family who are still satisfied by their walks of faith, but I have lost all personal fulfillment from it.
I go to all of those lengths to say: Hitchens is absolutely correct in his comment. While I no longer subscribe to that faith, I can still intellectually recognize that there are rules to Christianity, and that those hyper-liberal types like Unitarians are idiots. Rather than grapple with the messy facts of a religious code and how they meet our real-world experiences, Unitarians want to have a nice, neat, conflict-free bundle that they can buy to rid themselves of cognitive garble.
I’m no longer an evangelical, but that does not mean I’m no longer searching. It does not mean that I’m no longer wrestling with what I feel is truth. Liberal (and I mean that in a theological sense) Christians, rather than admitting what I just wrote, instead choose to spout irrational twaddle and crow that they’ve solved the puzzle.