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Rick Perry undoubtedly feels like he's been put through the ringer recently. But he found an unlikely friend of his direct and unapologetic approach to his beliefs recently in prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens. Yes, you read that correctly, Hitchens applauded Perry.
Here's the story from the Daily Caller:
Christopher Hitchens made a rare public appearance in Houston over the weekend. The master provocateur and public intellectual provided a reading list to an eight-year-old girl and praised Texas Gov. Rick Perry for his religious forthrightness.
Hitchens, who has been prevented from keeping his usual schedule of public debates and speeches by his battle with esophageal cancer, was in Houston for cancer treatment and to accept the Richard Dawkins Freethinker of the Year award from the Texas Freethought Convention.
Hitchens, a noted atheist and anti-theist, also praised GOP presidential aspirant Rick Perry during his remarks for having the courage of his convictions and saying that those who do not believe in Jesus will be "condemned to hellfire."
"Shame on the soft-shelled, soft-centered Christians that don't have the guts to say that is what their belief really is," Hitchens said.
It's a sad day for the American church when atheists are more likely to applaud Christians for having the courage to publicly speak to eternal consequences for sin than many leading ministers. But that's where we are, and it represents part of the huge problem we are seeing with a watered-down, irrelevant and ineffective church. Whether it's Rob Bell and the Emergent Church movement preaching that there might not even be a Hell to others taking the Joel Osteen approach of not even wanting to address the existence of sin because it's such a downer, the clear distinction between righteousness and sin that the church should be illuminating is becoming dangerously blurred.
Now, I don't know the context of Perry's comments, and I didn't even hear him say it. I'm taking this strictly from Hitchens' remarks. So I'm not speaking to the tact, the approach or the attitude Perry took in speaking to this truth. But I am with Hitchens on the larger point: if we Christians do believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and that those who die apart from His forgiveness and grace face eternal punishment (which is 2000 years of Christian doctrine), then we shouldn't be wishy-washy about acknowledging it. In fact, if we believe it, how could we not be actively warning others - Christian love would compel us to spread the word to anyone who will listen.