How many doorknobs have you turned in your lifetime? Surely someone has stats on that – they know how many hours we’ve spent standing in line at Fourbucks for our caffeine fix and how many years of our lives we’ve spent in bathrooms. Surely they have a rough idea about doorknobs. Of course, it would be hard to count the metaphorical doors, and we’ve all opened a bunch of those.
Last night I watched a DVD of two renowned men discussing their figurative doorways in a debate at Biola University in the spring of 2009. They met in front of a packed house and TV cameras, which were piping the discussion to filled rooms all over campus, in fact, all over the world. The men – William Lane Craig (Professor of Philosophy at Biola) and Christopher Hitchens (writer and public speaker, famous for his atheistic views) were debating the existence of God.
Now, there are two doors we’ve all stood in front of, rattling the knobs and wondering what was on the other side. Craig, of course, had the advantage because he had looked through the peephole of his door and could describe with scientific, historical, and personal accuracy what he saw there; Hitchens’ door, which opens onto nothing and therefore has no peephole, gave him little with which to counter Craig’s assertions. Mr. Hitchens could only add to the conversation the reasons why he didn’t want to believe in God; he had no way of proving that God didn’t exist, which is an entirely different discussion. The Great I Am is perfectly able to be, whether we want Him to be or not.
Hitchens said, at one point, that he didn’t want anyone, let alone God, telling him what to do, as if his disbelief disarmed God in some important way, and as if the guidance of God was a limiting and repugnant concept. For a person who was once acclaimed as the 5th most important intellectual in the world, this is a pretty sophomoric view, though I’ll have to admit that we Christians are the ones that gave him that idea.
We forget about grace with a frequency that must make the good Lord roll His eyes and shake His head. Christianity is not about following the rules; it’s about how impossible it is for us to do so, but Hitchens didn’t know that. Christianity is not about hog-tying us into a life of prim, pursed-lip propriety; it’s about being so grateful for what Christ did for us that we live out our lives in quiet wonder, keenly aware of the glory that awaits us – and that even blesses us here in Satan’s world. Christianity opens thousands of doors for us, allowing us to (with a nod here to Kurt Vonnegut) “ become what we can become,” what God designed us to be.
Isn’t that what every human being wants? to be thoroughly and completely and successfully ourselves? And aren’t most of our problems caused by our own inability to do so? If there is a God (and evidently there’s little evidence to the contrary), and if He designed us, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that following His instruction manual would result in better outcomes? God isn’t trying to cramp our style; He’s trying to help us make the most of our individuality -- if He’d wanted cookie-cutter people, He would have made us all exactly alike.
Poor Mr. Hitchens, he, like millions of others, was so distracted by all the bizarre, gargoyle carvings on the Churchianity door that he didn’t even notice the modest, simple door labeled Christ. Jesus warned the disciples that the church would start as a small mustard seed and grow into a monstrous tree filled with birds (who, in Scripture, often represent evil). I’ve heard way too many people talk about the apparent – and often real – hypocrisy, the ignorance – not only of science and history, but of the Bible itself -- and the incoherence of our world view to blame this attitude on Christopher Hitchens. That is as much our fault as it is his.
In his book Jesus Among Other Gods Ravi Zacharias quoted Augustine (I think) as saying, “Never judge a creed by its abuse.” I wish someone had taught Hitchens that, for our abuse of the Word of God does a pretty good job of obfuscating who and what God is. What have we done, representing our Lord so poorly that this unfortunate man is lauded and praised for his disgust with all things Christian? Mr. Hitchens will someday open his door and will have to face the terror that is there, and we are partially responsible for that. Thank the Lord that He died for that sin, too. Meanwhile he, and all those millions like him, will ride their broomsticks all over the world, proclaiming loudly the ugliness of the God who tried to save them.