Oh boy, here we go again…
I want to like Christianity Today, I really do. I mean, the magazine does have some helpful resources, like devotionals and news of what’s going on in the “evangelical” (the term is so ubiquitous and elusive these days) world. What drives me nuts, though, are its frequent, misguided, attempts at engaging the “secular world,” usually through overly-simplified movie reviews, poor writing and hyper-conservative cultural critiques.
They’ve outdone themselves recently by inviting “theologian” Douglas Wilson to debate Christopher Hitchens in a series of exchanges titled, Is Christianity Good for the World.
I must admit that, as of this post, I haven’t read all 5 segments in their entirety, but have covered enough to get the general downward spiral of humiliation that is an intelligent, if contentious, Hitchens verbally trampling Wilson in their battle of wits.
**OK, I finished the series this afternoon. Whew, what a painful load of dreck. It’s a back-and-forth of pointless banter of Wilson making ridiculous metaphors that don’t prove anything, let alone the goodness of Christianity for the world, and Hitchens avoiding the one point Wilson can manage to harp on. It’s as embarrassing as I anticipated. Wilson comes off as smug and self-righteous, while still unable to actually argue a point relevant to the actual topic. All right, if an atheist doesn’t have a descriptive term for her or his basis for their morality, so what, the common preservation of the species is enough of a point to shut up Wilson’s reiterations (and I do believe in God). Besides, he never gave a credible argument for what Christianity has/may have done to be labeled “good” by anybody. Saying Jesus died and brings us good news of salvation isn’t an argument for someone who thinks Jesus is a schmuck. Hello, borrow a dollar and buy a clue, your cutesy metaphors aren’t working because they don’t actually apply to the discussion…ahem, I stand by my previous assessment.***
Really, is Wilson the best they could find? With arguing points like, “The gospel makes the world better through Good News, not through guilt trips or good advice,” Wilson seems to be swimming upstream both without a paddle, but also without his bathing suit (maybe wearing sweat pants). The gospel truly is good news, but that certainly doesn’t build a case to prove Christianity has benefited anyone at any point.
My previous experience with the largely self-published Wilson comes from the archaic and ridiculous tome, “Reforming Marriage,” which was held to my wife and I as a study-guide for marital counseling. After underlining about 90% of it to mark flagrant, misogynist, outrageous and naive statements (feminism is evil!). The unfortunate thing, from my perspective, is that he touched on relevant issues, but expressed his views in such an abrasive manner that it totally overwhelmed any positive aspects we could glean from it. This is not an author who should be widely read, let alone represent a large portion of Christians, especially in such a public and sensitive way.
As I’m sitting here, I have a running list of people I think would be more qualified for the debate – but I’m not sure any of them would subject themselves to it.
So read the “debate” and let me know what you think. Better yet, let Christianity Today know what you think. Maybe they’ll think twice about who they pick to represent themselves.