Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    McGrath-Hitchens Debate: KUDOS to Hitchens for Getting to the Heart of the Matter; But Incredibly He Simultaneously MISSED the Heart of the Matter!

    While on ONE LEVEL it'S GREAT that (because of Hitchen's poor showing) much attention is now placed on the D’Souza - Hitchens relationship (/debate issues);
    On ANOTHER LEVEL, it's NOT SO GREAT because this new focus DIVERTS ATTENTION from the greater issues (and ones that we'll eventually come back to)... issues which (in giving credit where credit is due) were brought up by Christopher Hitchens in his debate with Allister McGrath, wherein Hitchens, even if from an adversarial position, summarized the heart of Christianity and the reasons unbelievers not only have a hard time accepting it, but believe it to be the most insulting and harmful thing not only to reason and intellect but to the human species itself.

    I MUST give CREDIT to Hitchens... for HE (as he in the debate claims he often does...) presented in an "intelligible" and "pretty clear stated" fashion the ISSUES (not so much in articulating the Christian position - for some of it he got wrong, and some of it he came to wrong conclusions, etc., but overall he not only stated and clarified, but drew attention to what he believed the core of the Christian faith).... the only PROBLEM is he is WRONG when it comes to the CONCLUSIONS he sets forth (...and this for a variety of reasons, which I'll show in a different post, as time permits)

    In his opening statement of the debate, Hitchens declares Christianity to be false, irrational, insulting, and harmful for the following reasons (my summary):

    1. Christianity's establishment and strength has resulted and depends upon man's ignorance.
    2. Christianity's doctrine of vicarious atonement and redemption is immoral and unethical
    3. Christianity's rule is totalitarian and brings the greatest burden and shame on our species.
    4. Christianity's ethics undermine man's basic integrity
    5. Christianity's love is dictatorial (/compulsory)
    6. Christianity's message (i.e., revelation of delay & method of God)is immoral.
    7. Christianity's message (i.e., "man is blood, mud, etc., but God has a plan for you")is sadomasochism.

    The VALUE of such a presentation is that it HIGHLIGHTS not only how far at odds Christianity vs. Atheism/humanism are with one another, but particularly at what points(/issues)they are significantly at odds with one another.

    While I give Hitchens credit (even if he arrived at this from an adversarial position), I adamantly disagree with his position and conclusions. In fact, I as a believing Christian, stand 180 degrees out from him on every issue. As the title of the post shows, while he's done us all a favor by drawing attention to the heart of the matter, I posit he has simultaneously missed the heart of the matter! This I intend to show in future posts as time permits.

    My confidence in the fact that these issues will ultimately be addressed and debated even though attention seems to have been diverted to the D'Souza-Hitchens relationship, is that HITCHENS HIMSELF will not allow these issues to remain dormant (neither should believers ... for they ARE the HEART not only of the difference, but the HEART OF THE GOSPEL itself, which is the power of God leading to salvation!) Trust me, it's for good, that though Hitchens for a time must divert to deal with matters related to D'Souza and his arguments, in time Hitchens himself will return to these matters, for he rightly believes these to be the crux of the matter.

    The reason I don't believe the D'Souza-Hitchens debates will be the end, is that while the more or less purely rational approach which D'Souza himself aims (& claims) to take does lend great opportunities for presenting "convincing" evidences and reasons to believe, in the end, such an approach results in "he said - she said" arguments and leaves one still with the issue and matter of faith. For this reason, I'm confident the debate will ultimately come back to the heart of the gospel itself, which when properly understood, not only displays rational integrity but satisfying solution.

    ... more to come!

    1 comment:

    puritan said...

    Are there any audio recordings of the debate available yet, or was it a small private debate? Sometimes the coordinators of these types of events will sell their video recordings or atleast make the audio recordings available for download on sermonaudio dot com.