Thursday, June 21, 2012

A culture of reading in the church

Reading has been very important to my growth as a Christian. Yesterday I came across several posts relating to its importance to others.

First, Jared Wilson explains in "The Page That Changed My Life" how for him [and for me and so many others] reading C.S. Lewis — cleared his mind:
.... When I graduated from high school in 1994, my Grammy gave me a paperback copy of C.S. Lewis's God in the Dock and Other Essays. I devoured it. And when I came to my absolute favorite piece in the book, a little treatise on the importance of mythology called "Myth Became Fact," the effect was similar to putting on corrective lenses for the first time. Clarity of vision descended. I am speaking of page 67 in my edition, specifically, where Lewis writes this: "We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology." ....

Lewis's point is this: Myths resonate because there is a residue of truth in them—not historic facts of course, but truth about reality. (In his novel Perelandra he writes that myth is "gleams of celestial beauty falling on a jungle of filth and imbecility.") And in the biblical story of Jesus and his gospel we find the convergence of the radiance of the mythopoeic with the glorious radiance of fact! Finally the one true "myth," the myth that is not fiction. Lewis writes:
For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: Perfect Myth and Perfect Fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.
Can even the Christian scholar and philosopher deny that the facts of the gospel are received on a frequency deeper than just the intellect? We discern the facts of the gospel with our minds, of course, but we receive them with our hearts because the Spirit has freed our hearts to receive them as true—to receive Christ as The Truth, the one true myth that is incontrovertibly fact.

What Lewis helped me see in that page helped me to see period. Page 67 of "Myth Became Fact" helped me to make the difference between seeing along the beam of light and seeing into the beam of light (to borrow from a later essay in the volume, "Meditation in a Toolshed"). .... [more]
And continuing with books that have made a difference, Suzannah, at "In Which I Read Vintage Novels" doesn't recommend a novel this time: On the Incarnation by St Athanasius (with an introduction by C.S. Lewis):
.... Unlike many of the great books of Western Civilisation, On the Incarnation is quite short and pithy, explaining the whys behind many of the doctrines of Christianity, but most importantly, why Christ had to come in the flesh, truly God, truly Man, to die and rise again. It explains exactly why this was the only thing that could have worked....
For it is a fact that the more unbelievers pour scorn on Him, so much the more does He make His Godhead evident. The things which they, as men, rule out as impossible, He plainly shows to be possible; that which they deride as unfitting, His goodness makes most fit; and things which these wiseacres laugh at as "human" He by His inherent might declares divine. Thus by what seems His utter poverty and weakness on the cross He overturns the pomp and parade of idols, and quietly and hiddenly wins over the mockers and unbelievers to recognize Him as God.
.... The young Athanasius's enthusiasm reflects the high spirits of the exciting first two centuries of Christendom. Not jaded, as so many Christians today seem to be, by the sheer back-breaking difficulty of spreading the good news of the kingdom of heaven, Athanasius happily proclaims the death of idols, the end of the reign of demons, and the death of death itself....

Read this book. And, just for a while, look at our own world through the eyes of Athanasius. .... [more]
And finally, Mark Dever, pastor of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.: