Dying Christopher Hitchens considered Christianity, new book claims

christopher

Before his death at 62, Christopher Hitchens, the -atheist and best-selling author of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” considered becoming a Christian.

That is the provocative claim of “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist,” a controversial new book winning both applause and scorn while underscoring, again, the divide between believers and atheists that Hitchens’ own life and work often displayed.

The author is Larry Alex Taunton, an evangelical Christian who knew Hitchens for three years and, he says, had private, unrecorded conversations with him about Christianity.

Those 2010 conversations, shortly after Hitchens was diagnosed with the esophageal cancer that would kill him 18 months later, took a serious turn.

Once, he asked Taunton if his friend understood why he, Hitchens, did not believe in God.

“His tone was marked by a sincerity that wasn’t typical of the man,” Taunton writes. “Not on this subject anyway. A lifetime of rebellion against God had brought him to a moment where he was staring into the depths of eternity, teetering on the edge of belief.”

Taunton, 48, founder of Fixed Point Foundation, an organization that defends Christianity, acknowledges in the book there are “no reports of a deathbed conversion” for Hitchens.

But Taunton writes that during the same time period, “Christopher had doubts … and those doubts led him to seek out Christians and contemplate, among other things, religious conversion.”

“At the end of his life, Christopher’s searches had brought him willingly, if secretly, to the altar,” Taunton writes at the end of the book. “Precisely what he did there, no one knows.”

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15 thoughts on “Dying Christopher Hitchens considered Christianity, new book claims

  1. Did Hitchens consider Christianity? I know he realised he was no longer an atheist. He saw so much that convinced him that an intelligence had created the universe, but that is a long way from accepting the dogma of Christianity.

    I don’t think I am a Christian, but a follower of Jesus. I don’t know what Jesus was, but I am willing to concede he was/is the Word of God, (God expressed in this world.). I suspect he knew far more than he imparted to the ‘lost sheep’ of Israel. Paul, on the other hand, preached a message the gentiles could accept. Not approved of by James, we know, but I feel it was okay by Jesus!

    I believe thought is powerful and creative, a real emanation from our minds. As we think, so shall we be, and the world around us. What each of us believes can become true for us, we make our own heaven or hell. If we believe in nothing, there will be nothing, for that is unbelief in the Holy Spirit.

    I’d better shut up!

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    • Strewth/Bryan:

      “I know he realised he was no longer an atheist…”

      I don’t have access to Taunton’s book but I’m curious to know how you (Strewth) “know” Hitchens wasn’t an atheist when he died, or what Taunton claims Hitch told him to suggest that he seriously considered conversion to Christianity before he died.

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      • “Professor Flew wanted to be certain that his acceptance of a belief in God was not misunderstood to a belief in the Bible god or any god of the various “revealed” religions. Professor Flew said, “I’m thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, . . .” He said his belief in God is akin to the Deism of Thomas Jefferson.”
        http://www.deism.com/atheisttodeist.htm

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      • Asked about the fairness of publishing such claims about Hitchens after his death, Taunton said: “The things that I relate, I think by and large I substantiate. What I am saying is this: If Christopher Hitchens is a lock, the tumblers don’t line up with the atheist key and that upsets a lot of atheists. They want Christopher Hitchens to be defined by his atheism, and he wasn’t.”

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      • From the same article (I think) as the one you quoted from Bryan:

        “Hitchens tried to ensure that anyone claiming he turned to religion at the end of his life would be discredited. In 2010, he made a video with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in which he said, “In the event of anyone ever hearing or reading a rumor of such a thing, it would not have been made by me. … No one recognizable as myself would ever make such a ridiculous remark.”

        I think I will take Hitch’s own words over the “untaped and unwitnessed” assertions of someone with an interest in his “soul”.

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      • Yes Hitchens did say that Stu. He was quite adamant in that video. But who really knows?

        The book claims that Hitchens was too famous an atheist to admit his late-in-life change of heart, that he was privately “entering forbidden territory, crossing enemy lines, exploring what he had ignored or misrepresented for so long,”

        Perhaps that’s wishful thinking. Perhaps not.

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      • Though Christopher Hitchens never recanted his atheism, Taunton said the famed atheist and debater was deeply impacted by Taunton’s HIV-positive daughter.

        “It’s because of her own innocence. He was powerfully moved by her, an argument he couldn’t refute. … At the end of the day, the most powerful apologetic is love,” Taunton said.

        “I discovered Christopher is not defined by his atheism,” Taunton said. “Atheism is a negative and you can’t build a philosophy around a negative. Christopher was searching for a unifying system of thought. They’re accusing me of saying he converted. I make no such claim. It’s not my claim that Christopher converted, it’s that Christopher was contemplating conversion. I think I substantiate it in the book.”

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      • Mea culpa! I don’t know how I confused Flew with Hitchens. I must have found them together on some site. Hitchens was not only an atheist, but an anti-theist. I still think I found something about him conceding a DEISM attitude.

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      • They disagreed on salvation through faith or salvation through works.
        The church makes a compromise – saved by faith, which then needs to be justified by works, or back to square one.
        Also from http://www.churchhistory101.com/century1-p6.php p- quiote:-
        “James the Just” vs the Apostle Paul
        There are several data points that give evidence to a struggle between the Apostle Paul and the brother of Jesus, known in the early church as “James the Just.” I do not want to engage in this debate, but I will quickly list the data. I am sure this will bring some comments my way.

        – the record in Acts 15
        Although Paul and James do not have open dispute in what we call the Jerusalem Council, Paul’s autobiographical comments in Galatians make it a bit more clear that he did not view James as THE leader of Christ’s Church (see Gal 1:17; 2:6-9; 2:11-13).

        – the four commands from Acts 15
        James the Just gives the pronouncement that Gentiles were “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality..” v29

        In his writing Paul objects to all dietary restrictions:
        One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. – Romans 14:2

        I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean….For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. – Romans 14:14-20 (emphasis added)

        But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. – 1 Cor 8:8
        1 Cor 8 – the entire chapter is given to eating meat offered to idols. Paul is nuanced, but does not support the Acts 15 prohibition.

        All the Pauline writings taken together make it clear that food laws are not required. Paul seems to say that IF a person wants to follow food laws he/she can, but nothing is unclean in itself.

        – Galatians and the Epistle of James
        The apparent polemical nature of letter of James the Just against Paul’s letter to the Galatians. I realize that most Christians will say that these two documents are not in disagreement, but we have another set of ancient texts that seem to address this apparent conflict: these texts are known as the Pseudo-Clementine Literature which includes Homilies, Recognitions of Clement, and The Preaching of Peter.

        James the Just vs Paul

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  2. Interesting. I just took the book out of the library yesterday. I, too, am a follower of Jesus, but feel I it’s important to literature that purports a position different from mine.

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  3. he says, had private, unrecorded conversations with him about Christianity.

    So I guess he thinks it is ok now to make private conversations public and make some money.

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  4. When those who,s life is driven by their delusion of Grandeur and believing they deserve a reward for that fact they currently exist.
    Those people can not comprehend others have not that same delusion.
    And they certainly don,t comprehend what they are after.
    They are after enernity.
    Imagine a number so large it would encircle the entire universe.
    That number no matter how large will not be a fraction of INFINITY.
    Sorry that is not what I would like.
    My self preservation instinct is not that strong to override my brain.
    I realize the universe managed perfectly will without me for more than 13,700,000,000 years and will continue until it,s end without me for trillions of trillions of trillions of trillions of years.

    Like

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