Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Of Pigs and Pearls

A growing number of debates featuring atheist Christopher "Note-the-Irony-that-My-Name-Means-Christ-Bearer" Hitchens have been popping up all over the internet. Hitchens, a journalist, TV pundit, and author of the book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, has been debating men such as Douglas Wilson, Dinesh D'Souza, Frank Turek, Al Sharpton (Oh help us!) and even his own brother. Hitchens is professorial, extremely intelligent, humorous, and, I am beginning to believe, more cunning than believers. How so?

When his God is not Great book was published, according to his own words Hitchens told the publishers that he did not want his book tour to take him to the typical liberal bastions on the East Coast or college campuses. Instead, he wanted to go to the Bible Belt, to churches, Bible colleges and seminaries. Consequently, that is where many of these debates have been held. At least to this pastor's way of thinking, I believe this welcoming of Hitchens is at best an act of incredible naivete and at worse one of gross unfaithfulness to Christ.

For did not our Lord instruct us not to cast our pearls before pigs, unless they trample both the pearls and those who cast them underfoot (see Matthew 7:6)? A pearl in Biblical parlance is the teaching of truth, and in the context in which Jesus spoke these words He is referring to the corrective teaching of the gospel. In the words of The New Geneva Study Bible's comment on this passage, "believers should not continue to preach to people who have rejected the gospel with contempt and scorn," which is exactly what Hitchens is doing. By inviting Hitchens to a church or seminary, knowing that he is going to blaspheme our Lord and Savior - laughing and getting others to laugh as he does so
(albeit a bit nervously as you see on some of these videos) - seems to be a gross violation of this injunction of Christ. It is one thing for a believer to write against him or go head-to-head with him on some talk show. I applaud those believers that have done so for their courage. Yet it is an entirely different matter to be chummy with him in a church sanctuary or seminary before young believers and seminarians.

Jesus told us that the sons of this age are more cunning than the children of light. That Hitchens wanted to debate with Christians (people that he believes are poisoning the world) in their devoted places, and Christians are receiving him warmly, only proves it. For make no mistake about it, he is preaching his atheistic gospel to win converts.
Hitchens is casting those stumbling blocks that the mature in Christ are supposed to be clearing out of other's path, rather than giving him an invitation to do so. Has the church really begun to yearn for relevance so much that we will accommodate him, and spend money given by saints for gospel ministry to pay his honorarium for his blasphemies? Rather than desiring the great show that Hitchens promises to put on and yearning for the praise of the world about the church's "open-mindedness" in inviting him, the bride of Christ better look to the Lord of the church.

For another verse about pigs and jewelry is found in the Bible. Proverbs 11:22 says, "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion." The bride of Christ, made beautiful by His blood, is showing this lack of discretion in this matter. So rather than holding up Hitchens for the pig that he is showing himself to be in defaming our Lord Jesus, the church is wallowing in the sty with him. That's no place for Christ's bride to be (II Peter 2:22).


David said...

I can see your point about leaving Hitchens out of a church setting, but in seminaries and colleges, it is good to get someone like Hitchens into the open like that. (It's better then Harris hiding for fear of his life, supposedly. I find his belief a bit irrational.) For one, Hitchens arguments are following a long trend that goes back to Rousseau. You could probably even trace it even further if you wanted too. You have pointed him out when he has been debating mostly theistic "lightweights." Look at the most recent debate that Hitchens was involved in with William Lane Craig:

Frankly, let people like Hitchens hop and skip around, they trip over themselves because they don't even know how to dance! lol

BamFam said...

Thanks for posting these thoughts. It was very useful reading for Brandon and I. We just went over this passage at fellowship group.
It was nice to read another pastor's thoughts on the subject.

Hope your family is doing well.

We pick up Brandon's sisters from the airport on Monday, very excited to see some family.

In Christ,
Megan (for the rest of the Fishers)

Ben said...

If we take from that proverb a sense of not giving good gifts to those who don't appreciate them, then the application is, I think, primarily about the Gospel and yet broader as well. And it would then make sense why Christian institutions are so ept to cast pearls before swine. With standards of student and faculty admittance as they often are, "necessity" has made us so well practiced at casting pearls before swine that we've made it a habit.

P.S. I liked your references to the remaining relevance of Christ's remarks on the Children of the Light.

Barry York said...

David - Though I concurthat Hitchens' arguments are long expired, and Craig does a better job than others in debating him, my sole point was "How does the Lord tell us to handle pigs?" It is His instruction alone we should follow, for though we may think (and could very well be) inoculated from these arguments, others may not. To play this off the recent headlines, one does have to be careful in handling pigs for you never know when swine flu might break out.

Megan - Glad to hear of the providence in the timing. Enjoy Addie and Moriah!

Ben - Agreed. Too many institutions have the policy "What's one more pig?" though they do not see it that way, mistaking the oinking for open-minded discussion.

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