The Best of Atheist Tuesday: “The Hell-Fire Club” Loses a Member


Recently I wrote about how important it is to preach God’s Word when all your well-reasoned and logical arguments for the existence of God are mocked, pooh-poohed or ignored by unbelievers. (Read it here.)

Don’t be concerned!

Nay-sayers and scoffers have always been around and will always be around according to the Bible:

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 2:3-7)

Despite mocking criticisms it’s amazing how God saves ordinary rapscallions and ne-er-do-wells actually by just hearing or reading the Word of God. I was one of those scoffers and God saved me! God will use His Words for His purposes.

The following account is of what happened to a leader of “The Hell-Fire Club” as he relentlessly ridiculed George Whitefield, one of the evangelists during the Great Awakening period in America. This is from an article written by Phillip Johnson, associate pastor at Grace Community Church and a former contributor to Pyromaniacs blog.

There’s a story in the biography of George Whitefield about a man named Thorpe, who was a bitter opponent of everything that is holy. He and a group of his friends—all of them young, rebellious thugs—conspired together to mock and oppose George Whitefield’s evangelistic ministry while Whitefield was preaching in Bristol, England.

George Whitefield had severely crossed eyes, if you have ever seen a realistic likeness of him. And these guys used to refer to him as “Dr. Squintum.” They called their little gang “The Hell-Fire Club,” and they disrupted meetings, mocked Whitefield on the streets and in public places, and generally tried to make his ministry a reproach in their community. Whitefield’s preaching had already made a deep and lasting impact in Bristol, and these young ruffians hated him for it. So this guy Thorpe got one of Whitefield’s published sermons and took it to the local pub, where the “Hell-Fire Club” was gathered to drink together while they make a burlesque of Whitefield.

Thorpe was apparently pretty good at doing impressions, and he had all Whitefield’s mannerisms and gestures down pat. So he stood in the center of this pub and crossed his eyes and began to deliver a derisive rendition of Whitefield’s sermon. But in the middle of the sermon, the Word of God pierced his heart, and he suddenly stopped and sat down, trembling and broken-hearted. Right then and there, he confessed the truth of the gospel and gave his heart to Christ. His aim was to taunt and ridicule, but he accidentally converted himself! Or rather, the power of the Word of God penetrated his soul and cut him to the heart. He became a preacher himself and quite an effective evangelist, because he knew so well the power of the Word of God to penetrate hardened hearts.

Notice that the Word of God pierces to the very depths, “even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It probes to the deepest recesses of the heart, no matter how hardened or how closed the heart might be. In fact, only Scripture can do that.


  1. Another week where you don’t tell me reason for our existence.

    Could it be that you don’t know?

  2. And literally two weeks later, Atheists aren’t deadened after all? It’s like two different people are writing these posts. Or one person desperately scrambling for something that will stick.

  3. Garrett the reason for our existence is to be loved by God and for us in return to love Him and serve Him. I know that you may disagree but there it is. God bless.


  4. Click here and read #1 for your answer. Read #2 for proof on why there is a God.

    And Garrett, if you’ve read the posts thoughtfully, you will have noticed that only God can open your eyes to the things of God. Last week’s post explained that clearly.


    • And Garrett, if you’ve read the posts thoughtfully, you will have noticed that only God can open your eyes to the things of God. Last week’s post explained that clearly.
      If that’s the case, then what’s with evangelization then? And don’t answer that it’s because the bible tells you to: I know it does; I want to know why.

  5. Hi Garrett,
    I just happened upon this site and saw your comments and wanted to offer a thought on the matter. One reason God created us is to glorify Him. Check out the book of Daniel and, in chapter 5 and verse 23 particularly, God gives us one place to substantiate this. While that particular Scripture focuses on glorifying Him, there are others–many others–that will guide you to that end.

    The Scriptures are rich, to say the least!


  6. You’ve had well-reasoned and logical arguments for the existence of God? Not our Steve? Not the Steve who knows the evidence doesn’t matter? Certainly not on this blog.

    I love how you continually have to dredge up horror or ugly imagery to represent the unbeliever. Clearly more that fruit of the spirit Love shining through.

    Steve would you be moved by testimonies of people converting to Islam? Mormonism? Any religion other than your own sect of Christianity?

  7. Steve and gang….guess what???? I went out again to the University of Tennessee strip tonight and street preached. An atheist walked up to me and gave me his version of a gospel(atheist) trac as I was read the scripture. I will post is soon on my blog. Here is the address on the tract:

    I will check it out and post on my savor the savior blog.

  8. the website has been suspended. but it was interesting to see an atheist bold in proclaiming his faith(or lack of it). Will make for an interesting blog.

  9. Does God need glory? Is he lacking in glory? Will he shut down or cease to exist without it? What’s the purpose in glorifying God?

    I can’t believe it took you nearly a month just to give me a link, Steve.

  10. Pastor Steve, thanks for reminding us not to stop preaching the word. It is spirit and it is spirituallly discerned. No human can be saved unless he first hears the Gospel and repents. Man can justify himself, I know I did it for years. But, by Gods mercy and grace he saved me. There is nothing more important than getting right with our creator and giving him thanks and bringing glory to him by the fruits of the very life he has given us. Today, I had the previlege of witnessing a brother not fearing man…he made himself a fool for the Gospel. He confirmed the spirit of God’s word…”But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him”

    “Without faith it is impossible to please God”

    A life without God is a life without hope.

  11. To BathTub: The imagery depicts a mocker. Only mockers would be offended.

    To Garrett: Does God need glory? No. He wants it. He deserves it. Someone saved by His grace should always strive to reflect God, be an imitator of God, so that all men may turn to Him.

    To Richard: Amen!

  12. Steve, I too want to thank you for the reminder.

    Mike …

  13. What’s wrong Steve? Did my comment contain too much truthiness?

    If every creation has a creator, so does Satan. He’s the son of God just as much as everything else would have to be. Same goes for the tree of knowledge and all that jazz. Even sin itself!

    That deserves glory?

    Keep blocking if you must. It’s amusing.

    • I didn’t like the way you stated it.

      And actually, Satan is not a son of God at all, just like all of those who haven’t put their trust in Jesus. The bible calls those who don’t believe in Christ children of the devil.

      Who’s child are you (Biblically speaking)?

  14. Wait, so God didn’t create Satan and the demons? Then who did?

  15. Sorry, Steve, but I’ll stick to be a child of my mother and father. I love mythology, but I’m not a follower of angel nor demon. They’re ultimately creatures of old fables.

  16. Eh this is interesting Steve, what is Satan to you? I mean Satan is mentioned in the Torah and in the Bible in various books, from Genesis to the Book of Job, although his role in the Torah is different from the Christian Bible, in the Torah, he’s merely an accuser for God, pointing out the evil men do and with permission from God, he’s permitted to do evil things to people in order to test their faith. Christians believe him to be a fallen angel, a rebel against God, who was cast down from heaven and is a champion of evil. Even the Islamic faiths refer to him as a Jinn. But the ultimate point is, Satan had to be created by God, not necessarily a child of God, but still something that was created from nothingness, the same goes for Hell as well, why would God create such a thing and a place? Does God require a cosmic villain to encourage people to reform?

  17. There’s a lot of weird stuff in the Genesis story. What was the point of the tree of knowledge? Why leave it down there anyways? If it was a perfect paradise, how did an entity with the moniker “Prince of Darkness” get in so easily?

    There are some interesting interpretations of these strange circumstances.

  18. By “interesting” I mean “blasphemous.”

  19. You know, I can’t even find any reliable source for this story anyways. This could very well just be a made-up or incredibly exaggerated story designed to encourage down-trodden believers. Don’t worry, God will just magically make them believe! Yeah, you keep telling yourselves that…

  20. What??? A made-up story?? Say it ain’t so, Garrett!!

  21. First let me say, some thing about garrrett’s comment. God used satan too bring about free will,before that time adam an eve did not even know what sin was an they had no knowledge of it.satan twisted Gods words around so he could decieve them.God’s reason for creating man kind was because GOD WANTED TOO BE TRULY LOVED. the angel’s were created too give him glory an praise him they had no choice.if we are forced to love some one or God it is not true love.yes sin was brought into the world through adam an eve’s sin, but GOD made a way for our sin’s to be forgiven through is son Jesus Christ.

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