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The Death of Christopher Hitchens

Renown speaker, author and self avowed atheist Christopher Hitchens died at age 62 yesterday. Mr. Hitchens was perhaps most well-known for his atheism and consistent attacks against religion, primarily Christianity. He was previously diagnosed with esophageal cancer and underwent medical treatment, including chemotherapy, to treat the disease. Ultimately he succumbed to pneumonia as a complication of the cancer and died. Prior to his death, many Christians prayed for Mr. Hitchens, for his healing and for God to save his soul. Mr. Hitchens found this to be interesting, but assured the public that any stories of his deathbed conversion would be fabricated.

The question that stands before us today of course, is where is Christopher Hitchens today. According to Mr. Hitchens, he simply ceased to exist, nothing more. But for the Christian, we know that we exist for eternity once this mortal body ceases functioning. There are only two possibilities as to where, Heaven or Hell. As Mr. Hitchens was created by God, and was bound to God’s laws, as we all are, he can only be in one of those two places. At first, it may seem quite easy to figure it out. He denied God, spoke vehemently against the Christian faith, and was often hateful and vitriolic in his speech regarding it. Considering that he made the statement there would be no deathbed conversion, it would be a simple thing to declare God sent him to hell. However, the truth is, we simply do not, and cannot know.

It is clear that Mr. Hitchens made a career of hating the very idea of God. But it is also clear that he was a common sinner just like the rest of us. He had a conscience, he was aware of right and wrong. He, like the rest of us, committed acts that were in violation of that conscience. We know that our consciences are God’s laws written upon our hearts. When we violate our conscience, we are violating God’s laws. Additionally, Mr. Hitchens debated with many Christians, he had heard the gospel presentation many times. There is little question that by the time of his death, Mr. Hitchens knew what God required of him. It is that time just prior to his death that we cannot know about. Is it at least possible, that as he faced those last moments, knowing death was coming that he considered those sins he committed, that he contemplated the gospel he had denied so many times, that he just might have repented and trusted Christ. If we are intellectually honest, we must say that it is possible. And since we cannot know, we hope that is what happened. We hope that we will find Mr. Hitchens in Heaven one day, for we do not wish the wrath of God on any man.

But we must also be honest say that he may not have repented. It is entirely possible that Mr. Hitchens held on to his rejection of God all the way into death. If so, Mr. Hitchens now stands before God in judgment for his sins. And not just for his atheism. As said before, our consciences are merely God’s law written on our hearts. When any man or woman breaks those laws, through lying, stealing, coveting, lusting, or blaspheming, they have sinned against a holy and righteous God. It is not just because he was an atheist that Mr. Hitchens may have stood condemned, it is because, as we all are, he was a sinner against the God who created him. And if that indeed is what occurred, even we Christians must mourn his death, for we do not wish Hell on any man. But we also rejoice that God is glorified, because His justice is perfect.

So what does that mean for the Christian? First, let us not run around proclaiming we know where Christopher Hitchens is, only God knows that. Let us share with people the truth, that if he repented and trusted Christ (which is our hope), he is in Heaven. But if he remained in his sins, he was condemned (as we all deserve). Let us not rejoice that another atheist voice is silent, that presents us as unkind and unloving. But let us not ignore that what he taught was blasphemous. As we engage in coversation with others on this, let us remember that, whatever Mr. Hitchens fate was, all of us face the same date with death. All of us will one day die and stand before the Lord. Let that motivate us to share the gospel with everyone we meet. Let his death stand as a reminder that our lives are but a vapor, our next breath is not guaranteed. Thus, it is imperative that we share the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners, and that salvation is available through Him alone. Christians, let us be about our Father’s business of proclaiming this good news.

About Chris Hohnholz

Born again believer in Jesus Christ • Co-Host, Producer, All Around Gofer Monkey at Cross Encounters Radio

9 comments on “The Death of Christopher Hitchens

  1. Could God have stopped Christopher Hitchens in his track?

  2. Not sure what you mean by the question. Stopped him from what?

  3. Very well written piece. I have the same thoughts as illustrated here today. I hope Hitchens repented and believed so that he would be saved and enjoy his creator for eternity.

    The very air that filled Hitchens’ lungs were given to him by God and Hitchens used this air to curse his creator. If this is not grace, I don’t know what is, per-se. If Hithcens maintained his atheistic paradigm then he might surely be disappointed when he finds out that he was used for the glory of God for all things are used for God’s glory, even atheists like Hitchens.

    As much as Hitchens had irritated me in the past, I hated to learn that he passed away when I read the headline this morning. With God, all things are possible so its possible that he was saved; only God truly knows. Perhaps this is a wake up call for us so that we ensure we stay mindful that everyone’s days are numbered and we only have so much time to give the gospel to others so that they might not perish.

    May it all be for His glory,
    Wade

  4. Trudy,

    I’m guessing you are asking a rhetorical question…You asked: “Could God have stopped Christopher Hitchens in his track?”

    My answer is yes of course God could have stopped Hitchens since He is the all powerful soveriegn creator of the universe. All men are predestined for God’s purposes as we read in Ephesians 1, Romans 1, Romans 8 & 9 and many other scriptures of course.

    In Christ,
    -atg

  5. He was a brilliant man with much bitterness, and I often found listening to him a frustrating experience. May he rest in the peace of the Lord.

  6. I all I can say is “but for the grace of God there go I”. Salvation is of God. Any of us who have been born from above should be thanking God for His gracious mercy. It is truly an amazing thing. A wretch like me saved by the love of a God who would send His only Son to die for those who would believe, that He chose to receive that mercy, from before the foundation of the world. Praise God, I get mercy and He gets all the glory!
    pam

  7. Pam,
    A great big DITO from a Great big wretch!!! Thank you.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I am as troubled by Christian posts that tout Hitchen’s “”giftedness” and such, putting him on the final pedestal, as I would be by the slanderous ones. As you say, he was an enemy of God, but no more so than any of us when we sin. And as you say, we cannot know with certainty his final eternal disposition, although the preponderance of evidence point to a heated end. It is enough to know the God who is just will do what is right, for Hitchens, and thankfully for us all.

  9. It is theoretically possible that Hitchens was redeemed at the last second, but I think, almost to the point of certaincy, that he wasn’t, based on the fact that God always acts toward His glory. How would a last-second secret conversion glorify Him?

    Still, I do take something away from this: many people reject Christ and say, “Well, when I get older and dying, I’ll get saved and it’ll all be OK.” Hitchens had every opportunity, even when he knew he was dying; one quote from him about his cancer: “… [T]he thing to note about stage four is that there is no stage five.” He knew he was dying and clung to his anti-theism to the bitter end. What makes you who reject Him now think that you will somehow break free from your life’s pattern when someone who was indisputably smarter than you did not?

    Ultimately, I believe that he currently had what he had truly sought for with all his heart throughout his life – absolute separation from God.

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