“Ready Or Not, Here I Come”

The title of this post is the line we used when I was a child as part of the game Hide and Seek. The “ready or not” part was meant for the those running about looking for the perfect place to hide. But it dawned on me as I was doing a little research for this article, that portion of the line perfectly describes the human condition at the point of death. Ready or not, here I come.

And why am I writing about death? I learned a week or so ago that deist and former atheist Anthony Flew passed away earlier this year. Somehow I’d missed the news. Sadly, from what the public knows, Mr. Flew’s new-found belief in an intelligent creator never translated into belief in a personal Savior. In fact he said as late as 2007, when his book There Is a God (you can read my posts related to the book here and here) was published, he had no hope for eternity:

Mr. Flew, in a statement issued through his publisher, reaffirmed the views expressed in the book, which did not include belief in an afterlife.

“I want to be dead when I’m dead and that’s an end to it,” he told The Sunday Times of London. “I don’t want an unending life. I don’t want anything without end.”
– from “Antony Flew, Philosopher and Ex-Atheist, Dies at 87,” By William Grimes, Published in the NYTimes: April 16, 2010

Whether Mr. Flew wanted an afterlife or not, he has one. Whether he was ready for it or not, he went from this life to the next. And so must we all, either by death or by God’s power to take us to heaven at the return of His Son.

But my thoughts about death aren’t in relationship to Mr. Flew alone. The fact is, another well-known atheist, Christopher Hitchens—he of stage-four metastasized esophageal cancer—is facing death. You may remember I wrote an article related to him a few weeks ago. While he can, Mr. Hitchens continues to write, making his views of God and the afterlife plain. From an article last month:

As a terrified, half-aware imbecile, I might even scream for a priest at the close of business, though I hereby state while I am still lucid that the entity thus humiliating itself would not in fact be “me.” (Bear this in mind, in case of any later rumors or fabrications.)
– from “Unanswered Prayers,” Vanity Fair

At this point, I thought, maybe what Mr. Hitchens needs is to live. If God miraculously heals the man, what will he do with that? Even he apparently has had some thoughts about such a thing, though I don’t believe he’s really considered surviving cancer by an instantaneous healing.

Later, in that same article, this:

Suppose I ditch the principles I have held for a lifetime, in the hope of gaining favor at the last minute? I hope and trust that no serious person would be at all impressed by such a hucksterish choice.

Sadly, Mr. Hitchens only demonstrates his lack of understanding of God. Could he possible think that the Creator of the universe with be impressed with some last ditch effort to gain His favor? To say such a thing makes it plain Mr. Hitchens doesn’t understand the first thing about God, no matter how often he has debated other Christians.

Instead, he is entrenched in his belief that the spiritual does not exist:

It’s no fun to appreciate to the full [because of the ravages on his body of cancer and its treatment] the truth of the materialist proposition that I don’t have a body, I am a body.
-from “Miss Manners And the Big C,” Vanity Fair

With such a position, Mr. Hitchens is declaring with Antony Flew that he wants to be dead when he’s dead, making it abundantly clear that he is not ready to enter the spiritual world. But whether he’s ready or not, he’s coming. Which makes me sad.

Published in: on November 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm  Comments (11)  
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11 Comments

  1. Indeed it is sad. We can witness and witness and witness… and we can witness some more. But if someone hardens their heart to the truth, especially because they simply do not want to hear or know the truth, there is nothing we can do that will change their hearts and minds. It is our job as christians to plant a seed; after that the Holy Spirit takes over and it’s up to the Holy Spirit and the person involved whether or not that seed takes root and begins to grow. Our best thing we can do for someone like that is continue to pray that their heart will soften, so that the Lord can take them to their home.

    Great post, Rebecca LuElla Miller, and may God bless you.

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  2. “Whether Mr. Flew wanted an afterlife or now, he has one. Whether he was ready for it or not, he went from this life to the next. And so must we all, either by death or by God’s power to take us to heaven at the return of His Son”

    A shameful use of a mans death, I’m sure Tom Cruise would give an equally spurious tale of where Flew is now! Flew died earlier this year from complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease, your certainty of Flews current whereabouts is disturbing in many ways not least of which is your understanding of faith, faith means without proof and faith requires belief in the hard to believe, it’s the cornerstone of all religions

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  3. Why are you sitting in judgment on the spiritual condition of others? Who gave you leave to do this? Why do you believe it is in any way productive?

    The men you castigate and cast aspersions upon are the loved ones of others and the children of God.

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  4. “The men you castigate and cast aspersions upon are the loved ones of others and the children of God

    “The men you castigate and cast aspersions upon are the loved ones of others and the children”

    Would be a more accurate statement, the appendix needs verification, becuase without that verification there is no difference between you, Tom Cruise, David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon or Marshall Applewhite

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  5. Anthony, thank you for your comment. I do think we must continue to pray for Mr. Hitchens, though he himself doesn’t wish it.

    I want to pray for a miracle, an apostle Paul revelation that Mr. Hitchens can’t ignore. But then I remembered the story in the Bible about the rich man who begged that someone would go back from the dead to warn his brothers what awaited them, only to hear the sad truth: they have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them. The end of the story:

    If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.

    Nevertheless, God can do the impossible. It may be impossible for Mr. Hitchens to be healed of his cancer or for his hard heart to be affected by an undeniable miracle. But if God so chooses, his cancer will be taken from him and he will, with all his faculties intact, proclaim that God lives and Jesus is His Son. That’s my prayer.

    Becky

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  6. Hi, peejay, thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. As you’d expect, I don’t agree that this post is shameful. I don’t even think I “used” Antony Flew’s death, though of course I commented on it. The divide here is that I believe in life after death and Mr. Flew—and apparently, you agree with him—did not.

    Is the issue scientifically verifiable? No. None of us can bring a dead person back to life and ask him what he experienced on the other side.

    There are those who have experienced being brought back medically, but their experiences are discounted as some function of the subconscious (though no apparent brain function is occurring).

    Be that as it may, I believe the historical evidence recorded in the Bible of the resurrected Jesus walking and talking with those who knew Him before His death. I also trust Jesus to be who He claimed to be, so no one is more qualified to speak about spiritual life.

    So you see, my belief is not based on an absence of evidence, though I understand that you dismiss such evidence because of your preconceived beliefs that the spirit world does not exist.

    Sadly you don’t use rigorous study for something so basic as verifying Mr. Flew’s cause of death. Apparently you’ve bought into the insinuation that his nominal aphasia was actually Alzheimer’s disease. I understand that in this way it’s easier to dismiss his change of mind. However, it doesn’t make it true. I’ll admit, I don’t know what brought on his condition of aphasia. Did he have a mild stroke? Perhaps. But it seems quite clear that his logic was intact those last years of his life.

    I’ll let Katherine answer your comment to her, if she so chooses.

    Becky

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  7. Why are you sitting in judgment on the spiritual condition of others? Who gave you leave to do this? Why do you believe it is in any way productive?

    Katherine, I’m not sure what I’ve said to stir your ire. If I’ve offended you, please forgive me.

    As to your comment, I am not sitting in judgment of the spiritual condition of these men simply because I said when someone dies he or she passes from this life to the next.

    I know what Mr. Flew said back in 2007 about the afterlife and he was wrong. He knows that now. Does he know it as one in God’s presence? I have no way of knowing because I don’t know what God did in the man’s heart and mind in those last weeks, days, moments of his life.

    I believe life is precious and God gives us each breath—for a reason. If He so chooses, He can lead someone to repentance at the end of his earthly existence. Who am I to say He did or didn’t?

    In no way am I suggesting I know anything other than that Mr. Flew was wrong about this life being the end. Mr. Flew was wrong when he said what he did about the afterlife, and Mr. Hitchens is wrong to persist in his disbelief in the existence of God.

    Did I declare judgment on them for their disbelief? On the contrary. It brings me great sorrow that these intelligent men deny what’s right in front of them and I plead for God to have mercy.

    Becky

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  8. Thank you for your curious reply, the problem I have with people using their beliefs to sanctify the dead, (who cannot defend themselves) goes back to the Mormons making every human being Mormon wether they wanted it or not, Anthony Flew started telling people that Charles Darwin had a deathbed conversion, he couldn’t have had any evidence for this because Darwin’s family have long said Lady Hopes reports were erroneous, it was a taste of things to come for many who knew Flew (I met him once very briefly)
    Why would Flew have left it till his 9th decade to do his most focused uncluttered thinking? why wouldn’t he have come to these conclusions while he was at the height of his intellectual powers?
    There are 100’s of articles on “how flew became a Christian” because deist isn’t enough for some

    Also Varghese’s book is fairly suspicious, would you accept a book by Billy Graham that was ghost written by David Miscavige suggesting Mr Graham had found comfort in L Ron’s beliefs? I doubt it.

    Please don’t think I’m putting you in this category, but there are many “theists” who can’t lose on the Hitchens situation, he gets better “it’s a miracle” he dies “he got what was coming” it’s win.

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  9. Oops, that should be win, win

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  10. Got it PeeJay. 😀

    I don’t pretend to know Mr. Flew’s thoughts about Darwin, especially in light of his own repeated statements opposed to the God I believe in and the afterlife I anticipate.

    In the writings I’m aware of he did not claim to be a Christian and had no hope except that the end would be the end. If he thought Darwin had made some deathbed conversion to Christianity, I suspect he was anything but approving—unless he came to his own conversion in the end.

    I can answer from what I’ve read this question: Why would Flew have left it till his 9th decade to do his most focused uncluttered thinking? I don’t think even he would have said his change of mind was a result of his thinking ability but a result of new evidence. He was quite open about the impact that DNA advances had on his ideas. And the thing is, DNA study has only increased our understanding of the complexity of life. It was this complexity that was the tipping point, Flew said.

    There are a number of misconceptions about There Is A God. First, Mr. Varghese’s name is on the book along with Antony Flew, so clearly he isn’t a ghost writer but a co-author.

    He was quite transparent about the process he used—pulling together material from letters, interviews, articles and such. And Mr. Flew not only signed off on the book, he produced a variety of corroborative statements, using a number of different communication modes, to let people know the thinking was his.

    I appreciate that you haven’t lumped me in with a host of others writing about this subject, Peejay. It bothers me too that anyone would be gleeful about someone dying. It’s inconsistent with the Bible, so I honestly wonder if those “Christians” are sincere about their faith.

    Jesus Himself wept over Jerusalem, saying He longed to protect them and care for them, but they would have none of it. Paul said in one of his letters that he cried over the people who he identified as the enemies of Christ.

    We’re not playing a video game. There are no points for “sinners sent to hell.” It’s despicable for anyone to talk like that.

    The truth is, I was such a sinner. Would I want someone to root me on toward eternal doom? I can only thank God that He extended His mercy to me in such a way that I accepted His pardon. How can I not want that for others too?

    Becky

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  11. […] I wrote about Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist who has terminal cancer. Apparently there have been a number of responses to his […]

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