Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?
Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.
Talk about nailing it. You can call yourself anything you like, but if you don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins and then rose from the dead, you are not “in any meaningful sense” a Christian.
What a delicious ironies that an outspoken atheist grasps the central tenet of Christianity better than many Christians do. What you believe about Jesus Christ really does make a difference.
Interestingly, too, is Hitchens’ grasp of a further fact, as he goes on to declare: “Christianity, remember, is really founded by St. Paul, not by Jesus. Paul says, very clearly, that if it is not true that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then we the Christians are of all people the most unhappy.”
You can read the entire transcript of the interview here.