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Skeptics make great Christians

Published 10:24pm Friday, April 18, 2014

By Chris Surber

I am convinced Christopher Hitchens secretly harbored hope for the truth of Christianity. Before his cancer struck him down, he was perhaps the most articulate and intelligent proponent of what has come to be called new atheism.

I have watched hundreds of hours of him debating Christianity and religion in general with Christian apologists like William Lane Craig and others.

I once heard him in a debate say to his Christian opponent, “I wish just once that rather than come back at me with complicated philosophical arguments, a Christian apologist would simply say ‘Thus saith the Lord. The Bible says so and that settles it for me.’” I take that as him revealing a bit of a search for truth.

I have often thought what a wonderful thing it would have been if Hitchens became a Christian. His sharp wit, brilliant mind and razor-sharp grasp of logic and common sense would have made him a welcome face in my congregation.

Skeptics make great Christians.

A skeptical mind tends to wade through the hogwash to get to the heart of the matter. The Apostle Paul was a master of logic and rhetoric who became a Christian. In fact, he was a far worse persecutor of the church than Hitchens ever hoped to be, even having penned his bestselling book “God is Not Great.”

Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17 ESV) Here you have the greatest apologist and evangelist the world has ever known applying a logistician’s mind to the Gospel. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then all of this is meaningless.

The truth of the Gospel rises and falls on the resurrection. It is the historicity of the resurrection that is the foundation of the Gospel, not Jesus’ moral teachings. Those teachings have no more value than those of Gandhi or Genghis Khan if Jesus did not rise from the dead.

The resurrection is the skeptic’s assurance that what Jesus said is true. The resurrection is attested to by historical facts that even unbelieving scholars agree upon.

Jesus was a real man who died by crucifixion. He was buried. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope. The tomb was empty. The disciples had experiences they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus.

The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers. The resurrection was the central message. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.

The church was born and grew. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic). Paul (an outsider skeptic) was converted to the faith.

Skeptics make great Christians, because they demand truth. Pure Christianity has no shortage of truth.

To learn more about the historical nature of the resurrection, I encourage you to visit the website of my former apologetics professor from Liberty University, Dr. Gary Habermas, at www.garyhabermas.com.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.

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