If you still don’t think adultery can utterly destroy a man’s life work, you would do well to contemplate the recent resignation and confession of Larry Taunton. I’ve never met him, but I greatly admired his 2016 book The Faith of Christopher Hitchens. Since that book was published, Taunton has spent a lot of time defending it from secular reviewers who took great umbrage at the mere suggestion that Taunton’s personal friend Hitchens may have been open at certain times to Christianity. Taunton has even been called an outright liar by some.

One of the devastations of moral failure is that it can make even false accusations stick. I don’t believe that Taunton was lying about Hitchens in his book. Nonetheless, the confession of sexual sin, and the apparent possibility that Taunton may have initially misled his donors as to the reason for his resignation, do not make defending the integrity of Taunton’s work easier. Granted that someone’s moral failure does not invalidate everything they’ve done or said. But in this instance, the implications for Taunton’s claims in his book have not been missed by his critics.

Everyone knows that infidelity damages marriages, but not many people vividly imagine years of their work and arguments and advocacy going down the drain too. Alas, I fear that’s Taunton’s situation now. Hitchens is still gone, and his New Atheist fanboys are still raging. The only thing that’s changed is Larry Taunton’s credibility. Whether he gets it back, only God knows. But my gut tells me that The Faith of Christopher Hitchens has probably convinced its last person. That’s quite a shame.

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Posted by Samuel James

Samuel D. James is associate acquisitions editor for Crossway Books.