Friday, May 30, 2008

Letter from a Christian Citizen


This week I finished Letter from a Christian Citizen, a short book by Douglas Wilson. It is written as a direct response to Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation, which is a popular book advocating atheism. Douglas Wilson’s writing is in a conversational style, and he makes comments such as “if we ever meet, I would love to buy you a beer”. He finds points of agreement with Harris, as well as disagreement.

One of the excellent things about Wilson’s Letter from a Christian Citizen is that in defending the gospel, he does not attempt to explain away parts of the Bible. He is just as passionate about the Old Testament as the New, and it stands him in good stead. Wilson is also a creationist, so he argues against macroevolutionary theory. Since macroevolution is the foundation of atheism as an intellectual position, this is important.

One aspect of Wilson’s argument that may be overdone is his emphasis that Sam Harris has no basis for the statements he is making. He really hammered home that Harris’ “nice” version of atheism was borrowing from a Christian cultural inheritance of certain moral values such as kindness to others. These values would be difficult to arrive at from a purely atheistic system of thought.

I love Wilson’s explanation of the gospel, and his answer to Harris’ comments on the dangers of religion.

“The problem of sin cannot be removed by education, money, or getting a bill through Congress. But neither can it be solved by getting rid of religion. All that does is give you a secular religion of the kind currently on tap in North Korea . . . The problem is in concrete persons. People are sinful, and they want to throw rocks at one another.” Page 95.

Jesus is the one who can take up these sins, and give us his righteousness.

“He gathered up a world full of hatred, adultery, treachery, rape, murder, envy, genocide, religious hypocrisy, atheism, theft, lying, and all forms of arrogant haughtiness, gathered it all to His chest, and disappearing, sank into death.” Page 104.

This same Jesus rose on the third day. He is working even now through his Holy Spirit to spread the gospel, and all its cultural benefits, to the ends of the earth.

You can visit the website of Letter from a Christian Citizen here.

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