Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Recent Readings

While at my parents' house recently, I read two different books--VERY different books. Now, I didn't take notes on them, and I wish I had. Trying to write about them in retrospect is difficult. One, Civil War Poetry, was a basic anthology of just what the title says--poems about the Civil War (the War Between the States, or as it's sometimes called in rural Georgia, The War of Northern Agression :) ) Standouts include Julia Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic and Walt Whitman's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd among others. I read the whole book expecting to be moved and touched, especially after our trip to Gettysburg, but, maybe because I had many distractions (3 whose names come easily to mind) during the reading, I wasn't too impressed overall.

The other book I read (actually re-read) was C.S. Lewis' God in the Dock. I was impressed again by his quickness of mind, agility with words, and prowess with the pen. His facile construction of an argument and clear explanation of logic is truly amazing. This series of essays, transcripts of speeches, and short articles is worth the read. However--a few disclaimers lest I be accused of being an ignorant Lewis-worshipper. C.S. Lewis could not bring himself to say that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. He explicitly states that he cannot discount God choosing to save people by other means. (He's not referring to Old Testament times.) I had read this book back in college and didn't remember exactly what he wrote, but upon reading The Last Battle again as an adult, I began to wonder about his view of salvation. He has a character in The Last Battle who is a young Calormene who has served Tash the false god his entire life. Aslan tells this young man that whatever he did for Tash that was good, was credited to him for Aslan. Basically this sounds like universalism to me. Would Lewis have said that if someone did good things for the sake of Buddha (which lots of nice peaceful Buddhists do, by the way) that these things are credited to them as having been done for Christ?

Also, Lewis held to the Anglican belief that the Eucharist is necessary for salvation. This is an un-Biblical stand.

On a positive note, Lewis writes arguments which absolutely refute evolution, self-centered Christianity, and materialism. His sense of humor was dry and yet a tad sarcastic. For example, he asks why he should ever listen to someone who believes everything is here by accident. He says that since evolutionists believe they are an accident of nature, then anything they say is also an accident of nature, and therefore not provable. Very well-said.

Now, it is not up to me to determine if C.S. Lewis was saved or not. (Thank God.) But what can I learn from this? Do I hold any beliefs or cling to any practices which are un-Biblical? How can I determine this? It makes me think and pray and strive to align myself so closely with Scripture that the Spirit may show me where I need to change and grow.


Bethany said...

You mentioned the idea of C.s Lewis being "universal", especially in his treatment of the young Calormene - I agree.

Did you know that Julia Howe is a unitarian univeralist, though I also like the "Battle Hymn"
Source - http://womenshistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa013100a.htm

Alice C. said...

Welcome, Bethany!

I did not know about Julia Howe being a unitarian universalist. Interesting. I read the bio. that you linked to, and noticed that it describes her as a "Unitarian Christian." I wonder what that means...I've never understood how people can say that they have a personal belief in Christ and yet not believe that He is the only way. It seems oxymoronic, considering Jesus' own words regarding Himself "...the Way, the Truth, and the Life..."

More to think on...