How Can We Have Narnian Faith in a Screwtape World? – page 5

 

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How Can We Have
Narnian Faith in a
Screwtape World?

by Russell Moore,
President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty
Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

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Spiritual Warfare

But, second, it’s not just gospel imagination. It’s also spiritual warfare—language that becomes really uncomfortable for some Christians, because they assume that spiritual warfare is what is talked about only by the Pentecostal wing of the Christian church, when in reality we are all small-p pentecostal Christians. We are the products of Pentecost, and we are all called to understand the spiritual warfare around us.

N.T. Wright criticizes C.S. Lewis as being too platonic, says he doesn’t emphasize the kingdom of God. Wright gives him a pass on that because in the middle of the twentieth century not many people were seeing and recognizing the kingdom of God. I disagree with N.T. Wright on this; although Lewis doesn’t speak explicitly with the language of the kingdom, he hits repeatedly on the major aspects of the kingdom of God, the summing up of all things in Christ and the ongoing warfare against the principalities and powers that shows up in the arena of history and also shows up in the arena of each human life. He’s emphasizing here exactly what Christian theologians would talk about as the already and the not-yet, of the inbreaking of the kingdom of God. So when Lewis says “enemy- occupied” territory, that’s what this world is. He’s speaking to the sense that we all must have that something has gone terribly awry, something is wrong. He’s getting at what the poet Czeslaw Milosz means when he says, “Whoever considers as normal the order of things in which the strong triumph, and the weak fail, and life ends with death, accepts the devil’s rule.”

There is a sense in which we see the wreckage of Eden all around us, when we see injustice and pain all around us. There is something within us that causes us to ask: How will this all be put back together? How will this all be made right? And it gives us the opportunity to return to the stone table. It gives us the opportunity to speak of a sacrificial, sin-bearing offering that ultimately defeats the injustice all around us and defeats the injustice within us. We speak of a combatting of the forces around us not with raw force, not with raw sovereignty, not with influence the way the world defines influence, but with something else, with good news that is able to turn this back. And as we speak, both of the joy of the imagination fueled by the good news and of the pain and the suffering and the grief that come with living in enemy-occupied territory, our audience is not just in discipling our fellow Christians, our audience is not just in evangelizing unbelievers around us; our audience must also be future Christians, to prepare them for the task of cross-bearing, people who might overhear us through the witness of those who overheard us, names and faces that we may not even recognize or know in this life. We are speaking a word that’s challenging us to go further up and further in, in a way that’s challenging the next generation to answer new questions in new ways from old wells, walking in old paths.

 

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