Thursday, January 13, 2011

WorldNetDaily Has Thing For "The Shack."

Here they contrast The Shack with CS Lewis' Narnia. Arguably I think they distort Lewis' teachings; but granted I'm no Lewis expert. I do know some basic facts about him, though.

The article describes Lewis as an "evangelical." Arguably, that errs. Lewis was an orthodox Anglican. Indeed he famously articulated the notion of "mere Christianity" that united Protestants, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and capital O Orthodox Christians along a common ground of Nicene orthodoxy. If you didn't believe in Nicene Trinitarianism, you were not a "mere Christian," whatever you may have called yourself. That means among others, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, probably George Washington, James Madison, John Locke, Isaac Newton and even John Milton himself were not "Christians" even though they all in some sense considered themselves to be.

Whether Lewis was "evangelical" depends on what "evangelical" means (it's generally associated with Protestantism not Anglicanism). If Francis Beckwith, for instance, can qualify as both an evangelical and a Roman Catholic (as he describes his faith), I suppose Lewis could also under a broad understanding of the term.

More importantly the article argues whereas The Shack embraces universal reconciliation, Lewis did not. Lewis seems a poor choice to contrast The Shack. First -- I haven't yet read the book The Shack -- but from what I know, it doesn't hit one over the head with a message of universal reconciliation; it does not evangelize for universalism, even if universalism is implied in its message. And CS Lewis, if he believed in the idea of eternal damnation for everyone in Hell seemed to embrace the certainty of that outcome rather tepidly. That is, Lewis strongly flirted with universalism himself and like a number of present day notable Roman Catholics seemed to hope for the possibility of an uncrowded Hell.

Heck, even Billy Graham seems to flirt with such hopeful universalism.

Orthodox Christianity seems to be all over the place as to 1. what Hell is really like 2. whether you send yourself there or God sends you there, and 3. whether God is present in Hell or Hell is separation from God.

It shouldn't surprise that orthodox Christians might also differ on whether Hell is eternal.

I've heard it said that God wouldn't "force" anyone to be with Him in Heaven. Forced love is not real love. But a lot of Calvinists (and some non-Calvinists) evangelicals seem to think God is capable of forced hate. That is they believe God is present in Hell (you can't get away from Him) that He and His angels personally deliver the eternal punishment. This isn't just Fred Phelps, though he and his church do preach this.

CS Lewis argued the doors of Hell are locked from the inside. Again, a quite contentious notion among orthodox Christians. No one would lock themselves in an eternal torture chamber. The only way the doors would be locked from the inside is if Hell is indeed freedom from God to enjoy the rest of eternity sinning not in His presence. Like an eternal Las Vegas nightclub, where one gets to eat, drink, smoke, gamble, do drugs, fornicate, etc. for all eternity.

No wonder so many folks would choose that. Heh.


Our Founding Truth said...

The article describes Lewis as an "evangelical." Arguably, that errs. Lewis was an orthodox Anglican.>

So was Whitefield, and Frelinghuysen was Dutch Reformed.

Evangelicalism is synonymous with fundamentalism; adherence to what the text of the Bible says in context of the entire Revelation.

When the Pharisees understand Jesus is claiming equality with the Father, and try to stone Him, His Deity is proclaimed. When Jesus says, "only worship God," yet He allowed people to worship Him, His Deity is proclaimed, etc.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Lewis was no doubt an orthodox Trintiarian; however, he had enough things to say about the Bible's text that you probably would doubt his status as a "Christian." That is, he was not as fundamentalist as you are.

Our Founding Truth said...

Somewhere I read he may have said some things about evolution, not sure where, but, he claimed to be born again. No one would mention that unless they knew what it was.

Of all the great public figures, if I could sit down with any of them and expound the text, and get their opinion, it would be Hamilton, then Washington.

Jonathan Rowe said...

This is an interesting article on Lewis.

ktward said...

OFT: Evangelicalism is synonymous with fundamentalism

In the minds of fundamentalists, this is true. Fundamentalists are evangelicals, no question. But it's not remotely true that all--nor perhaps even most--evangelicals are fundamentalists.

To wit:


A few parallel thoughts:

I am an agnostic and long-practicing UU. But whether I like it or not, my strict Christian upbringing--Indie Evangelical Church and Fundie Baptist primary education--forever remains a piece of my psyche.

After having read Mr. Young's bio and perused both his site and various reviews, it strikes me that The Shack isn't all that different, in terms of messaging, than Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations With God. While the former is fiction and the latter non, their common point seems to be that we are unconditionally loved by god (the very definition of grace), despite our perceived sins, failures and gross imperfections.

Unlike Mr. Young's missives, De Young's WND piece gave me the heebie-jeebies. It reflects the fundamentalists' overarching preoccupation with damnation (which is largely at odds with the premise of a loving god), and echoes the disturbing mindset that I experienced firsthand, 40 years ago, as a student in a fundie private school: an unrelenting mindf**k that, today, would unquestionably be considered child abuse.

Myself, I contend that whatever ultimately inspires us to our fullest life is 'divine'. For many, divine inspiration lies within the controlled tenets of religion. I find it difficult to stand in judgment of that, since divine inspiration is often found in curious places.

Admittedly, I'm not nearly as well-studied on The Enlightenment relative to our nation's founding as are folks like Rowe. But near as I can tell, the modern-day political designs of Christian fundamentalism is much further away than I from the ideals of our founding.

Then there's this: socio-cultural inculcation notwithstanding, advancements in science—i.e biology, psychology, and neuroscience/brain imaging—have driven research which, collectively, strongly suggests that our reliance on religion has much more to do with our biological & personality-driven inclinations (e.g. locus of control) than any religion's supposedly demonstrable legitimacy.

ktward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Our Founding Truth said...

What I mean by Evangelical, is adhereing to the text of the Bible. In the text we find the fundamentals of Christianity; Incarnation, Resurrection. etc.