Review of Collision: Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson


This week my wife and I spent an evening watching Collision, a documentary on the debates between Christopher Hitchens (one of the proponents of the new atheism) and Douglas Wilson (a Reformed pastor). We were quite enthralled with the dialogue and found the whole experience stretching and strengthening for the most part. While we enjoyed Wilson’s general defense of the existence of God, we had a few issues with both the manner and content of his defense of the Christian Worldview specifically.

He succeeded greatly at demonstrating the incoherence of Hitchens’ assertion that Christianity is bad for the world. Hitchens argues that since the Old Testament contains the slaying of the Amalekites, the biblical worldview is severely compromised and therefore not good for the world. Wilson counters that the Darwinian model, which Hitchens espouses, contains no logical catalyst for caring about the Amelekites at all. After all, if they are the weakest, their survival is of no concern anyway. Wilson explained  fairly cogently that in order to invoke a frame of reference which calls for moral objectivity and the judgment of what is good or bad, Hitchens has to borrow from the Theistic worldview!

His eschatological view, i.e. preterism (the view that most or all of the Bible’s eschatological promises were fulfilled in the 1st century) was painfully obvious at numerous instances. Further, he was quite willing to use some language that I would call inappropriate, especially for a Christian.

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  1. #1 by Johnny on May 12, 2010 - 7:39 pm

    Wilson argues for the existence of the God of the universe and you worry about his eschatology & language. The arrogance is literally astounding! Has anyone told you about the telephone pole in your eyes? Yes, there are probably splinters in the eyes of others. But maybe you should pull that telephone poll out of yours first. Just a thought.

  2. #2 by Clearly on May 13, 2010 - 4:15 am

    Phil, so it’s wrong to point out my disagreements?

  3. #3 by Johnny on May 13, 2010 - 6:10 am

    Absolutely not. If I were actually saying that, then how could I point out my disagreements here without becoming the biggest hypocrite in the world. It would be impossible. That is not the point I am trying to make …at all.

    The issue has more to do with context. We, evangelicals, need to start looking at the BIG picture. If we don’t, we’re dead. And we almost are.

    So, here is a man who is publicly and intellectually defending the God of this world to an audience that is probably at least half unregenerate and then on a public blog that may be read by the same type of audience demographics (because it is public), we choose to focus on a disagreement in language and doctrine. Doesn’t that strike you at all as being just a little bit trivial? Isn’t it this triviality that gives the unregenerate more fodder and a reason to reject our God? Why not just focus then, as much as possible, on only those points we agree? The disagreements can be challenged later, but only when necessary. This is mainly where I disagree with modern rigid fundamentalism as a whole and not just Baptistic fundamentalism either, evengelical, catholic, muslim, and atheistic fundamentalism, etc. The focus usually tends to lean towards that which we disagree on. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Rather than, that which we agree. The defining characteristics of this strategy usually stems from pride which creates division. Rather than humility, which leads to unity.

  4. #4 by Clearly on May 13, 2010 - 7:03 am

    Phil,

    I see what you are saying, but have to point out that the purpose of my blog is not typically evangelistic, albeit it is public. What I pointed out in the movie was also public and associated with the name of Christ. Isn’t it a good thing to point out that not all Christians think it’s okay to say %$%$?

    I talk about heresy in the wider church, my personal thoughts, some apologetics stuff, and some stuff relating directly to my life.
    When I do talk about apologetics, I am trying to point Christians in the direction of some good and interesting resources when it comes to doing apologetics correctly and in the marketplace. Even though the language was at times poor and the eschatology aberrant, I still felt there was value in this resource.

    Interestingly, I was once witnessing to an Odinist and a member of the National Socialist Party in a coffee shop when another Christian that was witnessing to him with me decided to start dropping all sorts of expletives to try to prove his point. The result was that the unbeliever was very turned off to the witness of that man precisely because this unbeliever believed that his language was inappropriate, especially for a Christian! I am convinced that our language is a vital aspect of being salt/light and that God cares how exactly we represent Him.

  5. #5 by Johnny on May 13, 2010 - 10:13 am

    I do agree with you there.

    Also for what it is worth, I believe I owe you an apology. My spirit was not right when I made that first comment and for that I am sorry. The accusation I made broke the boundaries of humility and non-critical thinking that I was implying for myself in the post. And for that I do apologize.

    I must admit, I see the plight of modern Christianity and it causes my spirit to become very burdened, moved, and at times downright frustrated. I believe I read your article at the wrong time and in the wrong spirit and over reacted. I have just started reading your blog, and most of what I read I enjoy. Sometimes my desire to play devil’s advocate gets the better of me. 🙂

  6. #6 by Johnny on May 13, 2010 - 11:28 am

    When I say ‘non-critical’, I mean ‘non-judgmental’ in the context that I used the exaggerated telephone pole analogy. 🙂 Obviously there is a place and time for discretion to be used and judgment to be cast. I guess when, where, and how are the things that we Christian denominations argue over most, many times more than we should. My hasty remark made in the wrong spirit and out of frustration is one such example.

  7. #7 by Clearly on May 13, 2010 - 11:34 am

    Phil / Johnny,

    Thanks much for your comments back — meant a lot to me.

  8. #8 by Johnny on May 13, 2010 - 12:14 pm

    😉 Johnny is my google auto-form alias for blogs and forums. It’s easy and helps me separate all that nasty spam I do not want any part of.

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