The following letter was written by Matthew D. Hutcheson on May 29, 2020, to a globally respected celebrity after he publicly announced he no longer believed in God.
Matthew’s letter has comforted millions of others struggling with the same fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
May 29, 2020
Dear [Name Omitted],
My name is Matthew D. Hutcheson. I am a federal prisoner.
Every week I write a letter from federal prison to my family and loved ones. At this very moment I am typing from a prison located in Colorado on the U.S. Bureau of Prison’s ancient email system.
Yesterday I saw a story on the news about you and I have been thinking about you ever since.
I hope this letter finds its way to you somehow.
Thank you for your courage. Courage, in my opinion, is one of the greatest virtues. It took a lot of courage to express your thoughts to the world. As you might imagine, I have interacted with thousands of inmates over the past seven years who have come to similar conclusions as you.
Having spent so much time in prison, and experienced or witnessed everything you can imagine, I believe I can, with authenticity, speak to why human beings are exposed to (no, immersed in) so much pain and suffering, tribulation and adversity.
Counter intuitively, it is actually evidence of God’s involvement in our daily personal lives. However, I can fully understand why it is often interpreted as abandonment or evidence of His nonexistence.
Let me explain.
In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light.” That statement is not an invitation. It is a solemn decree.
There is another similar statement in Holy Writ that is almost universally misunderstood – or perhaps, rather – understood too superficially.
It is this: “Be ye therefore perfect.” That statement is likewise not an invitation. It, too, is a solemn degree.
In other words, this statement is not something God is telling us to do and be. We know we cannot become perfect on our own, even if God commanded us to be. However, like “Let there be light,” it is a decree before heaven and earth about what HE is going to do FOR US. HE is going to make us perfect. HE has decreed it. And, of course, only HE can.
Understanding this almost hidden truth that has been before mankind for thousands of years fills me, and many others with whom I have had this same conversation, with hope and joy. It is a gift of certainty (unless the gift is refused and rejected).
One logically asks, “What, exactly, is God going to do to make me perfect?”
Now we have arrived at the heart of the matter.
C.S. Lewis explains it perfectly in MERE CHRISTIANITY.
He starts off by explaining that when he was a child, he had tooth that hurt really bad. He knew that if he told his mother about it, she was not going to stop at giving him an aspirin. No. She was going to take him to the dentist for the “full-meal-deal.” He dreaded the thought, so he concealed his pain from his mother. The dentist might make the pain worse, temporarily, but in the end, the tooth would be repaired and the pain swept away.
Then he says this:
“Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take [a mile]. Dozens of people go to [the Lord] about a particular sin which they are ashamed…Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment. That is why He warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake,’ he says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect – until my Father can say, without reservation, that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But it will not be anything less.”C.S. Lewis, MERE CHRISTIANITY.
There it is. THE PERFECTION DECREE explained.
Please bear with me as I share Mr. Lewis’s concluding thoughts on this matter.
“I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted him to do, and we should be obliged if He would not leave us alone. As we say, ‘I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.’ And we imagine when we say this that we are being humble. But this is a fatal mistake. Of course we never wanted, and never asked, to be made into the sort of creatures He is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us.”
While in prison I have had this conversation with thousands of inmates. Murderers, gang bangers, drug lords and minions, abusers of children, bank robbers, business executives who succumbed to greed, and more. As you might imagine, it takes somewhat of a seismic event for them to let the truth in that THE PERFECTION DECREE applies to them, too.
It is inconceivable to them that they, as evil and vile as they see themselves, could ever be perfected.
That is, only until they understand this one truth inextricably connected to THE PERFECTION DECREE:
“If you are suffering adversity and tribulation, you are in His hands. THE PERFECTION DECREE is activated in your life.”
Here is why: For Him to make one perfect, He must activate, actualize, and perfect every virtue within him or her. Virtues, ironically, do not activate themselves. Virtues must be awakened from a deep sleep. Other virtues must be coaxed out of hiding. The awakening and coaxing occurs in the hot crucible of tribulation and adversity. There is no other way. God knows that. Deep down, we know that, too. Pain and suffering is necessary to activate, actualize, and perfect every virtue.
The late psychologist, Carl Rogers, sort of explained this from a secular point of view. He said that “Self Actualization,” is the activation and realization of one’s total capacity.
From a spiritual standpoint, one’s total capacity means the resurrection of the body and spirit into immortality coupled with the perfection of every virtue; love, patience, kindness, purity of mind and heart, forgiveness, truth, humility, chastity, etc.
For millennia, philosophers have wrestled with the questions:
“If God is perfectly loving, why does He permit so much pain and suffering with those He claims to
“If God is all powerful, why does He not simply make evil go away?”
“If God is all powerful, why does He not simply forgive sins? Why did Jesus Christ have to die?”
Of course, there are more questions.
There is, however, a fundamental fallacy in each of those questions. It is this: Why would God thwart his own work by removing the very environment that activates, actualizes, and perfects every virtue? The answer is, of course, He does not thwart himself. Jesus Christ died so the gift of resurrection could come to all mankind. He also died to satisfy the demands of justice with mercy so that change can occur. Otherwise, change could never occur. Jesus broke the bands of death and sin. Now we can get onto the business of becoming perfect at HIS hands.
One inmate said to me, “If what you are saying is true, then why is there so much evil in the world?”
Those who refuse to be perfected, and push God away, usually inflict great harm on others – mentally, spiritually, physically, or all of the above. Such individuals are evil and will one day be judged. I spent several weeks in a trial. I was found guilty and convicted because of things the witnesses said about me. Judgment was passed upon me.
Likewise, one day, evil people who rejected God and His promise of perfection will stand before Him, the great Judge. Witnesses will be called to testify. After their testimony, the Almighty Sovereign Judge will say, “Let the record show…” about those evil doers.
On the other hand, to our glory, those who persisted in hope and love for God and his promises will likewise hear Him say, “This man/woman never lost faith in the midst of severe tribulation and adversity. Let the record show…”
As painful as life is, God would never deprive us from that glorious moment when He, before all creation, declares “Let the record show that (he/she) was faithful to the end, in the face of every peril, and (he/she) never denied Me.” That will be an indescribable moment of glory. It is that day that I dream about and hope for. I express my sincerest gratitude to Him for THE PERFECTION DECREE.
Even Niccolo Machiavelli understood this principle:
“God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.”Niccolo Machiavelli
In conclusion, I know it seems like the entire world is a proverbial “Humpty Dumpty” that has fallen off a wall and is broken into chaotic pieces. Now and then I feel a little overwhelmed by it, too. However, I want to reassure you by sharing the following quote from a book I wrote from prison called, “Quinny,” (www.facebook.com/quinnythebook) where I recite the nursery rhyme, and add a concluding declaration of my own:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
And all the Kings horses
And all the Kings men
Couldn’t put Humpty
Back together again…BUT THE KING COULD!
Jesus Christ is our KING. He not only is putting Humpty (all of us) back together again, He will succeed in perfecting all those who will not push Him away. It is THE PERFECTION DECREE.
It is said that “by their fruits you shall know them,” meaning that the RESULTS in the lives of followers of Jesus Christ will be superior to the results in the lives of those who don’t. But for fruit to be borne, there must be opposition, resistance, tribulation, and adversity. Otherwise, the virtues needed for perfection will not be awakened or coaxed out of hiding.
When you see your virtues tested, survive and ultimately bear fruit, you will know that it is HE who does it for you.
And by HIS fruits ye shall know HIM.
He knows you, and I think you know Him, too.
Love and respect,
Matthew D. Hutcheson
Federal Prison Camp
9595 West Quincy Ave
Littleton, CO 80123
Write me a letter!”