God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another Thought On Minister Oprah

I wanted to add to my thoughts from this post on Oprah's views of faith and spirituality, by saying I believe the error that Oprah - and others - makes when talking about other faiths or rather their preferred word "paths" is to mistake any kernel of truth as the whole corn cob.

I rather agree with C.S. Lewis who said:
What had been holding me back [from a conversion to Christianity] has not been so much a difficulty in believing as a difficulty in knowing what the doctrine meant: you can't believe a thing while you are ignorant what the thing is. My puzzle was the whole doctrine of Redemption: in what sense has the life and death of Christ 'saved' or 'opened salvation to' the world...

Now what Dyson and Tolkien showed me ... was this: that if I met the idea of sacrifice in a Pagan story I didn't mind it at all: again, that if I met the idea of a god sacrificing himself to himself I liked it very much and was mysteriously moved by it: again, that the idea of the dying and reviving god (Balder, Adonis, Bacchus) similarly moved me provided I met it anywhere except in the Gospels. The reason was that in the Pagan stories I was prepared to feel the myth as profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp even though I could not say in cold prose "what it meant". Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God's myth where the other are men's myths: i.e., the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call "real things". Therefore, it is true, not in the sense of being a description of God (that no finite mind would take in) but in the sense of being the way in which God chooses to appear to our faculties. The "doctrines" we get out of the true myth are of course less true: they are translations into our concepts and ideas of that which God has already expressed in a language more adequate, namely the actual incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.
And in The Pilgrim's Regress:
“Child, if you will, it is mythology. It is but truth, not fact: an image, not the very real. But then it is My mythology. The words of Wisdom are also myth and metaphor: but since they do not know themselves for what they are, in them the hidden myth is master, where it should be servant: and it is but of man’s inventing. But this is My invention, this is the veil under which I have chosen to appear even from the first until now. For this end I made your senses and for this end your imagination, that you might see My face and live. What would you have? Have you not heard among the Pagans the story of Semele? Or was there any age in any land when men did not know that corn and wine were the blood and body of a dying and yet living God?”
We can find the truth in all of human history and in all of mankind's stories - God has been speaking to us that long - but we don't find the whole truth until God himself came to us in the person of Christ. Of course such philosophizing is much more complicated than can be said in short quotes, but that I think is what Oprah is missing.

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