Thursday, October 18, 2007

Expressions of the Christian faith in Narnia - Intro

Today I'm starting on a new series of posts that I will continue working on periodically. I invite your input, opinions, and thoughts on these matters.

First off, I want to start by saying that I have never been a big fan of the perennial fad books that seek to “find God” in whatever the latest thing may happen to be. I used to work in a Christian bookstore and came to despise the blatant commercialism that often goes on in the realm of Christian media. Several years ago, I remember nearly losing it when I encountered a devotional entitled Walking with Frodo. I don’t mean to slam the author of this book or others, but I do resent the system that has been built around claiming the latest pop culture item (cf. “The Gospel According to [insert pop culture item here]).” There was a time, not too long ago, when C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia were that fad icon. And I have a feeling that they will come back to the front shelf of Christian stores everywhere when another Narnia movie comes out.

Having said all that, I'm not looking at these books to be faddish. Earlier this year my wife and I sat down and re-read C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. She had never read them – I was shocked, and knew that this was a situation which I must immediately remedy. As we read through them, I gained some valuable insights.

One of the superficial benefits of reading children’s stories like these was that they provided me an opportunity to practice the “oral interpretation” skills that I had been learning about in my preaching class with Dr. David Allen. (SIDE NOTE: The Bible is far more important a book than any other, and after listening to some books on tape, I realized that I much preferred listening to those where the reader made the text come alive. Surely preachers of the gospel ought to cultivate that skill in the reading of the holy Scriptures.) I did enjoy getting to practice some of the voices, and it gave me a great chance to spend time with my wife – reading together is a great activity.

However, some of the deeper insights I gained had to do with the spiritual truths that Lewis actively conveys through these stories. He conveys many of the great themes of the Bible – redemption, Christ’s substitutional atonement, sanctification, forgiveness, the Lordship of Christ, child-like faith, the nature of sin and grace, Creation, the Fall, and the Return of Christ just to name a few. In some upcoming posts I hope to discuss some of these themes, recognizing that these are fictional books, but at the same time looking at these often parabolic stories through a Biblical worldview. The allegories are never perfect, but then, none ever are. Still, re-reading these books as a seminary student, I was able to pick up on some of the spiritual facets of the books that I had previously overlooked or forgotten about.

Over the coming weeks, as I get some of that ever-elusive "free time," I intend to post about some of these spiritual themes that we find in these much-loved children's stories.

No comments: