Monday, October 12, 2020

Past watchful dragons

On the 70th anniversary of the first publication of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Russell Moore considers why Lewis has meant so much to so many Christians.
.... For many of us shaped by Mere Christianity, though, the most important thing about the book isn’t the arguments for God—although those are sound and have withstood their critics like an eagle against a child.

For many, Mere Christianity resonates because of the written voice of the author. It’s a tone that, unlike the cynicism of modern religion, isn’t trying to market us a political agenda or a line of products, but is simply, with pipe in hand, bearing witness to something true—or, rather, to Someone who is Truth. In that sense, Lewis’s most important contributions in persuading skeptics or reassuring wavering Christians come not, first, from his training as an Oxford classicist but from his experience guiding children through a spare room, past a lamppost, and on into Cair Paravel and beyond. ....

The strangeness of Narnia—a strangeness bounded by the familiarity of tea and fireplaces and so on—is one of the reasons it remains compelling. Much of Christian apologetics—whether modernist or fundamentalist—has sought, first, to make Christianity familiar and intelligible—either by scholastic rationalism or by civilizational hegemony or by political ideologies of the left, right, or center. That’s not Narnia.

Lewis recognized that a major obstacle to his generation receiving the gospel wasn’t that the gospel was too mysterious to them, but that it was too familiar. The Lion of Judah seemed tame; the biblical narrative was confused with a respectable cultural script. And people can’t hear as good news that which they no longer hear as news at all.

“But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass at Sunday school associations one could make them for the first time in their real potency,” Lewis wrote. “Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.” .... (more)

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