On Reading “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris

My decision to read Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation rests largely on 1 Peter 3:15, and the need to understand and appreciate the views who are hostile to the Christian Faith.

Over the years, I’ve had face to face discussions with people who are hostile to the Christian Faith, some rational in their objections but others not so rational (the same could be said of Christians).

As I began to read Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation, I’m immediately confronted by someone who is not only hostile to the Christian Faith but is also militant in this stance.  For example, when Mr. Harris discovers that nearly half the American population believes in the return of Christ, he expresses utter outrage and lament:

The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this [the return of Christ], purely on the basis of religious dogma, should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.  (p. xii)

But for those of us who are Christian we are somewhat sympathetic toward someone like Sam Harris.  We can’t believe anyone would consider belief in the return of Christ to be “a moral and intellectual emergency.”  In fact, when we consider the state of the world, we’re living in, we continue to pray, “Our Lord, come!” (1 Cor. 16:22), knowing that it’s only with the coming of Christ will the wrongs be made right.

As I continue to read Mr. Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation, I wish he were better informed in his obvious disgust toward the Christian Faith.  There are two possibilities to this ill-informed data I’m encountering on these pages: (1) either Mr. Harris knows the truth about how properly informed Christians defend the Christian faith, the likes of C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias and William Lan Craig, and chooses to so misrepresent; (2) or Mr. Harris simply doesn’t know.  Perhaps the famous quip of G.K. Chesterton may be applied to Mr. Sam Harris here: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

I plan to post a few more reflections on my reading of Letter to a Christian Nation.

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2 Responses to On Reading “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris

  1. robstroud says:

    Apparently he was raised in an essentially “secular” home with a Jewish mother and a Quaker father it’s little surprise he is confused about religion. Add that to his pilgrimage to Hindu and Buddhist mystics during his college years, and his atheism is quite understandable. Tragic, but understandable.

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