…or at least we can say that Christopher Hitchens knows very well that God exists, and that by using the word “believe,” I mean no more than what is taught in James 2:19. Ultimately, men like Mr. Hitchens live in the denial of their innate knowledge of God because all men are in fact suppressive persons (SP). No, I don’t mean SP as denoted in the vernacular of Scientology (SP = anyone who opposes Scientology). Instead, by calling men suppressive I mean this:
Romans 1:18: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…
Apart from grace, all men suppress (katechonton > hold down, hide) the fact that they know the truth about God, His righteousness, and His coming wrath. As to this latter point, men tend to resist the truth of God’s wrath with special fervor, and for this reason the doctrine of hell is often tossed about like an unwanted rag-doll; even by those who profess to believe the truth of the Gospel. Having mentioned Mr. Hitchens in this context, let me add another player into this discussion of suppression – Mr. Brian McLaren. Consider what Mr. McLaren has to say about the doctrine of Hell:
McLaren: This is, one of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of the this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God. [Interview With Brian McLaren, By Leif Hansen]
What we have here, in McLaren’s intuitive theology, is a classic example of a man who has chosen to place all his bets on a deity that only possesses a handful of attributes – as in love, mercy, and grace. This is one of the central legacies of theological liberalism: just take the God of the Bible and redress Him with a few threads of divine attributes, while casting aside all other aspects of His character, like His holiness, righteousness & justice. This little trick is called jelly-bean theology – just pick out the ones that you don’t like, and eat only what satisfies your personal taste.
Mr. McLaren’s theology of Hell is completely devoid of…theology. Sadly, his notion of truth represents the theological trend of the past 100 years here in America, and it is becoming more mainstream via the Emergent Church movement.
Now let us compare Mr. McLaren and Mr. Hitchens for a moment. As odd as it may seem, Mr. McLaren’s doctrine of hell is actually exceeded by the “atheist,” Christopher Hitchens! I say this because on several occasions, Mr. Hitchens has expressed a wish for the existence of hell so that some transgressors on our planet could receive the just judgment that Mr. Hitchens believes they deserve. With reference to this, Hitchens has expressed his desire that Jerry Falwell and the Archbishop of Canterbury to go to the Lake of Fire; as well, he has frequently called “Mother Theresa” the Angel of Hell. Clearly, as an atheist, Mr. Hitchens’ views of justice and truth are rooted in nothing more than his own intuition of justice – which, like a sine wave, only intersects the axis of truth from time to time; however, within the crucible of his angry rants are the remnants of this suppressed truth: “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” Hitchens would no doubt claim that his statements regarding hell are ironic, and yet his emotive rants do reveal a desire within his heart for some form of divine justice – albeit subjectively defined by his own views of truth. The point here is this –
It’s a sad day in America when an atheist’s notion of hell & justice exceeds that of a reputed “Christian” theologian.
Strangely, Hitchens is closer to the concept of hell than is the “theologian” Brian McLaren – and yet, neither of them comprehend this important doctrine in any real sense. In the broader scheme of things, both men are suppressing the truth of God’s holiness, justice, and wrath through their own stilted opinions. One does it by means of the false garb of religion, while the other does it via the self-deception of “atheism.”
In the end, they both amount to nothing but a denial of God’s authority and truth.