John Piper responds to prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens and (retired) Bishop John Shelby Spong of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. Upshot:
You both seem to assume that the affection of gratitude is puerile and unsatisfying—something we need to grow out of if we would be deeply joyful and useful people. Presumably you feel that way because, in your experience, being self-sufficient and being thanked is more satisfying than feeling dependent and thankful. I have tasted this pleasure you seem to prefer. It is the pleasure of power—the pleasure of being above others so that they must give you thanks rather than the other way around.
This is what Jesus warned against when he said, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors” (Luke 22:25). “Benefactors”—people who don’t want to say thank you to others, but like it when people say thank you to them. Your discomfort with gratitude—your sense that it is an unhappy and dissatisfying disposition—is not auspicious for your souls. It is very dangerous.
May I humbly invite you, and others you have influenced, into the lowly ranks of the dependent, thankful, happy, children of the living God on this Thanksgiving Day. There is great grace. Great forgiveness. All-supplying mercy. All-satisfying Beauty. Inexhaustible wisdom. It is all in Jesus Christ. And it lasts forever. May we say together, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable Gift.”
Read the whole thing.