The Conviction of Hell
Peter Hitchens is the younger brother of recently deceased Christopher Hitchens, a leading light in the New Atheism movement. In his teens, Peter also embraced atheism but eventually found himself unsettled by it, and a 500-year-old painting—The Last Judgment by Rogier van der Weyden—influenced his reversion.
He wrote of his experience viewing the painting in an essay for the Daily Mail, saying, “I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of Hell. ... They were me, and people I knew. ... My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head. I had absolutely no doubt I was among the damned, if there were any damned.”
Now an outspoken Christian thinker, Peter Hitchens’ insights are diametrically opposed to the popular writings of his late brother.
Our Siren Call
In a recent study with college students belonging to atheist student groups on campus, the Fixed Point Foundation, led by Larry Taunton, found most college students who are atheists usually have a solid faith background. Many of their conversions to atheism were due to the weak demonstrations of faith they observed in their churches.
Such a reference brings to mind Paul’s warning about the last days: “People will be ... having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Tim. 3:2, 5, NIV)
A powerless church is not God’s idea at all. God has given us two mighty weapons: truth and power. And it has always been that way. Two thousand years ago, Jesus told the Sadducees, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures [truth] or the power of God” (Matt. 22:29).
The New Atheism will only make inroads where these two are lacking: ignorance of the Holy Spirit and the compromise of Scripture. But where the Holy Spirit is welcome, where He is poured out with signs and wonders and miracles, and where the whole Bible is fearlessly proclaimed, the church flourishes.
It is as basic as that.
Dennis Prince was co-planter of the thriving Kingston City Church in Melbourne, Australia, and is author of several books, including I Was Wrong: Why the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Called It Quits ... and Other Trouble for the New Atheism.
Watch Peter Hitchens, brother of the late New Atheism leader Christopher Hitchens, track his journey to God at hitchens.charismamag.com.
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