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.”