Hitchens over Spong

I recently watched a debate between the anti-theist Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza. This was shortly after viewing another debate between William Lane Craig and the radically liberal Bishop John Shelby Spong. After reflecting on them both I’ve reached a conclusion: I have more tolerance for Hitchens than Spong. The following quote from Chesterton explains why.

G.K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936) is one of the best-known writers of his time. His Father Brown mysteries have almost a cult following. His non-fiction contains some of the most trenchant commentary in the English language. Written when he was only thirty-four, his book, Orthodoxy, represents Chesterton’s affirmation of faith against the growing atheism of his day, an atheism that could not be answered by theological liberalism, but only by an orthodox faith.

In the following quotation, Chesterton points out the folly of the theological liberals of his day.

“Modern masters of Science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or not man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology that can really be proved. Some followers of the Reverend R. J. Campbell, in their almost too fastidious spirituality, admit divine sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams. But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street. The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.”1


1 Gilbert K. Chesterton, Heretics/Orthodoxy (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 176.

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