Posted tagged ‘Faith’

An Inkling of Transcendence: Lewis and Tolkien

October 8, 2017

Despoitphotos Image ID: 121201272 Copyright: chrisdorney

“[His] father had taught him to absorb doubt and disbelief into his beliefs.”

This statement from the book, Inklings, by Humphrey Carpenter, is spoken of Charles Williams, who was a regular participant in the informal discussion group, the Inklings, formed by CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien at the University of Oxford, England. The group met at various time in Lewis’s classroom and a local pub from the late 1930’s to late 1949. Charles Williams was an early member of the group and continued as a regular until his death in 1945. Williams grew up “a devout churchman” but was encouraged by his father “to appreciate the force of atheistic rationalism and to admire such men as Voltaire and Tom Paine”.

Lewis, of course, was an atheist when he began teaching at Oxford. His journey from a naturalistic worldview to agnosticism to Christian theism is chronicled in his autobiographical work, Surprised by Joy. Tolkien was already a Christian when Lewis joined him as a professor at Oxford, and Tolkien influenced Lewis in his transition to Christianity. Williams came along later. These men were attracted to each other as much by their love of language, literature and poetry as their faith, and their views on literature and faith often diverged sharply.

These three men, and others who joined them, were a powerhouse of thought and creativity. CS Lewis, of course, wrote many books from fiction to philosophy. JRR Tolkien wrote, perhaps, the greatest mythological series of the 20th century in the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Charles Williams, though lesser known, was a prolific writer, literary critic, publisher and student of English literature who could recite hundreds of passages from sheer memory.

They influenced each other, despite their very distinct differences, and their collective influence has been felt by generations from their day to ours. They were Christian men, believing very authentically in the Bible as scripture, but they were also fierce academics who held their faith up to the rigors of intellectual exercise.

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Is the Bible Scientifically Accurate?

September 14, 2017

Photo taken of friends at a church in Missouri viewing the eclipse

I listened to a presentation by Jon Jorgenson on Science vs. the Bible in which he addressed the question whether the Bible has any scientific errors. Jon’s YouTube channel is aimed at teenagers and young adults, and he is a prolific producer of inspirational and devotional material.

He acknowledges, the answer, literally, is yes. For instance, in Genesis, the author describes the Moon as a “lesser light”, but we know the Moon is not technically a light. It doesn’t generate light of its own like the Sun.

Another example is the parable of the mustard seed. Jesus calls the mustard seed the smallest of all seeds. We know that there are other seeds in the world that are smaller than mustard seeds.

For these reasons, we cannot honestly say that the Bible, on its face, taken literally, is scientifically accurate. It simply isn’t.

Jon offers that we shouldn’t expect the Bible to be scientifically accurate because it isn’t meant to be.  2 Timothy 3:16 states: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”. (NASB) From this, he makes the point that the Bible is written for a different purpose.

Still, one might ask, doesn’t the God of the universe know these things? Why doesn’t He get the facts right?!

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Does God Live Under Your Bed?

August 24, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 154118170 Copyright: ImageSource

I read an autobiographical account by CS Lewis in college in which he recounted his journey from atheist to agnostic to Christian. The twists and turns of his journey were fascinating to me. I gained much insight into my own journey and how God works in the hearts of people who are inclined to follow the prompts.

His journey was like mine in some respects and much different in others. Just as I see how uniquely tailored and personal those prompts were for me, they were just as uniquely tailored for CS Lewis.

The God revealed in the Bible is a Person, and He is personal. He made us in His image. He made us to have relationship with Him. He relates to us as no one can. He knows our innermost being. I have found all these things to be true to my own experience.

After CS Lewis conceded the intellectual point that the universe was more likely created by a Causal Agent than not, he began to sort through the various possibilities for what that Causal Agent could be. Searching out the various world religions, he found that one stood out. One was not dependent on man’s own capacity to know or to understand. All other religions required special knowledge, understanding, and effort to achieve a connection with that Causal Agent.

He reasoned that a loving God who is just and fair would not foreclose a connection to those who are born without the intellectual capacity to understand or know what is required of them. Such a God would have to be accessible by all people, regardless of capacity. The complexities of religion did not seem appropriate to Lewis as he contemplated these things.

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Intellect and Faith

January 13, 2017
Photo by Tyler Drendel - Sunset at Fermi Lab

Photo by Tyler Drendel – Sunset at Fermi Lab

Following from part one of twobeing honest about the who and what of our underlying presuppositions

Think about it: can a finite being measure or define, let alone manipulate, an infinite God?

If God is “big” enough to create a universe so large that we cannot see past the beginning or the end, how do we expect to measure such a God?

We are more comfortable in our own element. We can understand the what and the how of the world we live in, but the who is another matter altogether. Non-believers go no further and declare, the “what” and the “how” to be all there is.

At the same time, believers should not be afraid of facts or science. Facts and science help us to know and understand the what and how of creation – and they point to the Who. If we have an attitude open to the Who, we will see the evidence for God. In fact, it will seem self-evident. If a person wants “proof” before belief, such a person will never be satisfied – especially when the proof is a priori limited to the what and the how.

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A Time for Courage

October 12, 2016

We don’t always think about the courage necessary to be a follower of Christ.  Sure, we know the words that Jesus spoke: If you deny me before men, I will deny you before the Father.[1]  But we tend to view those words through the fear of being found wanting.

Fear is a bad motivator. I don’t think our tendency to be afraid of losing our salvation serves us very well.  Perfect love casts out all fear. God is looking for the courageous, not the fearful.

Jesus actually spoke those words in the context of fear.[2] And the message from Jesus is: do not fear! (more…)

Be Faithful to the Gospel This Election Season

October 10, 2016
canstockphoto2856260/csp2856260

canstockphoto2856260/csp2856260

Our freedoms in this country may just be the one thing that most undermines the Christian faith in the United States of America. This election cycle has had me doing lots of soul searching. In the process of that soul-searching, it dawns on me that our freedom to choose which person we will vote for in November puts us squarely in a position where we have to compromise our faith.

People have been talking about Donald Trump as if he were the Nebuchadnezzar of the present day, but he isn’t. The people in the days of Nebuchadnezzar had no choice. In the present day, we do have a choice. When Daniel was faced with compromising his faith or being a loyal servant of Nebuchadnezzar, he chose not to compromise his faith, in spite of the consequences.

He could have easily justified a different choice. (more…)

Destined for Tribulations

September 12, 2016

“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation[1] and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”

This is how John begins relating the revelations he received that are preserved in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. Sometimes we read over things quickly that other times will stick out. This verse sticks out today, perhaps, because we have a good friend who is fighting cancer. Today is also the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

I recently wrote about the charge from atheists that people have faith in God because of wishful thinking. Nothing could be more wishful. True faith is forged only in tribulation. (more…)


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