Monthly Archives: February 2016

C.S. Lewis, the Scandal of Particularity, Science & Revelation

Reading about my Veracity co-blogger John Paine’s adventures in England, and seeing the photos of the Eagle and Child, it made me think of C. S. Lewis. Until recently, I have never been a very avid C. S. Lewis reader. My problem is a bit different from John’s. Sure, Lewis can at times be hard to get through, but my primary difficulty is that I have a rebellious streak against reading popular Christian authors.

Back when I was in college in the mid-80’s, it seemed like EVERY Christian I knew was reading C. S. Lewis. Or at least, they planned to read Lewis. Lewis just seemed a bit too trendy to me, and Lewis himself thought that his work would be long forgotten within years of his death. At that time, Lewis had been dead for twenty years, and it just seemed like there was a desperate need for new voices, and aside from exceptions like Francis Schaeffer, evangelical Christianity was not producing many with the kind of substance Lewis possessed. I respected Lewis, but I had little desire to fall into the “Lewis crowd.” So I bought a small stack of MacMillan published titles from the college bookstore, and there they sat on my shelf, unread, for years.

The situation is different today. C. S. Lewis is still popular, but mostly through his children’s works, and not so much through his apologetics writings. Among evangelicals now, I find that C. S Lewis is someone everyone has heard of, but few have really read. Like me, those books just sit up on the shelf, and many Christians say, “Maybe someday I will try to crack open some of Lewis’ more challenging writings.”

A few years ago, my rebellious spirit prompted me to go against this evangelical malaise and actually read Lewis. I read The Great Divorce, and it gave me a whole new way of thinking about the doctrine of hell. Lewis’ Space Triology was up next, and it made me wish I had read through the whole series thirty years earlier! Sure, there are some peculiar constructions in Lewis’ style that seem outdated, but the man had a grasp for ideas that in many ways was years ahead of his time. It would probably help us if we were to dust off those Lewis books on our bookshelf, and engage what Lewis had to say. This video by pastor John Piper, tells us why Lewis is still important:


Here is one of those ideas in Lewis that has had me thinking a lot recently….
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Do Atheists Just Suppress the Truth in Unrighteousness?

Greg Koukl is an apologist with Stand to Reason ministries. In the following 3-minute video clip, Greg tries to answer the question, “are atheists just suppressing the truth in unrighteousness?” From Greg’s reading of Romans 1:18-32, it is not just “atheists” for whom the question can be asked. Anyone who is not a believer in Christ would fall within this category.

Does Greg’s video get at the idea that Paul is trying to communicate here? Watch the video, read Romans 1:18-32, and let me know what you think.

NOTE: For those who want a little more background into this challenging passage of the Apostle Paul’s, you should be aware that Paul’s critique of pagan idolatry in Romans 1 is rooted in the Jewish theological perspective of his day. Sometime within 200 years prior to Paul ‘s writing his letter to the Roman church, an unknown Jewish writer penned the so-called “Wisdom of Solomon,” part of the Greek Septuagint, as well as part of what many Protestant Christians call the “Apocrypha.” In the Wisdom of Solomon, the writer extols the virtues of wisdom grounded in the worship of the True God of Israel, and contrasts this with the idolatry of paganism just as Paul does. Note the striking parallels in Romans 1 with Wisdom 13 and 14.


The Eagle and Child in All of Us

And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25, NET)

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Outside Christ Church College, Oxford. One of the most beautiful and profoundly ‘magical’ places we have ever been. Scenes from Harry Potter movies were shot here. Albert Einstein, John Locke, John Wesley, Lewis Carroll, and 13 of the 26 Prime Ministers from Oxford studied here. Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was inspired here, and Alice was the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church.

Yesterday, Marion and I travelled to Oxford and had a late lunch in the renowned Eagle and Child pub, where a group of famous Christians met regularly to encourage one another. We sat in the same nook where J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and others discussed ideas that shaped some of the most significant English literature to come out of the twentieth century. I couldn’t help feeling a little exuberant, so I took a few snaps with my cell phone and sent them off to friends and family.

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I really didn’t want to write this post. I’ve never read any Tolkien. I’m no C.S. Lewis scholar. I find it difficult to read Lewis’ philosophical theology, preferring instead to listen to his books using Audible. His writing is undeniably brilliant and packed with words that connect the intellect to our faith. But as Dick Woodward once told me, “C.S. Lewis made things complicated, but I spent my entire ministry trying to make them simple—so people would understand.” One of the great wonders of the Christian Faith is that it works on both very simple and very complex levels.

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Tuesday mornings at the Eagle and Child pub. This is where Tolkien, Lewis and others sat. The Gloucester sausages and steak and ale pie were quite good. We were late for lunch, so it wasn’t too crowded.

When Clarke received our photos from the Eagle and Child, he prodded me, reluctantly, into writing this post. But it occurred to me while sitting in the Eagle and Child that I have experienced and benefitted from the encouragement of some wonderful brothers and sisters. Brothers like Dave Thompson who will send long, deep, profound emails of encouragement at all hours of the night. And Dave Rudy, who always can add to any topic I may bring up (it’s amazing how much Dave has studied and absorbed). And Rob Campbell, who is the most devotionally devoted person I have ever met (and a finer friend you could not have). And Clarke Morledge himself, with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things theological and hermeneutical (his zeal is as contagious as his heart). And Ken Petzinger, a Princeton-educated physicist who is living proof that Christians also come with extreme intellectual capacity (and who always has something current to share from his personal studies). And Dick Woodward, who was such an encourager and gifted teacher. And Iris Rudy, who is such a good listener (and who commands respect when she speaks). And Tina Campbell, who works at being the most compassionate and hospitable person I know (and succeeds magnificently). And Marion, whom I could never thank appropriately for being such a wonderful, selfless person (and in whom I continually see the Gospel lived out).

So when the writer of Hebrews states, “And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near,” l get it. I am thankful for the Eagle and Child that all of us have experienced.

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The University of Oxford has 38 Colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) of religious foundation. There are cathedrals, churches and scenes like this everywhere you turn. I hope that you can visit Oxford soon!


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