Intellectually Fulfilling Faith: Lessons from C.S. Lewis - page6




Intellectually Fulfilling Faith: Lessons from C.S. Lewis
by John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College

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And that’s why science works. And he summed it up brilliantly as usual: “Men became scientific,” he said, commenting on the explosion of modern science in the 17th century, “Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legistlator.” And so for Lewis, who is described as a thoroughgoing super naturalist, super nature did not start with the miracles recorded in Scripture. It started with human reason itself. That in every human being there’s an outpost witnessing to the fact that nature is not all that exists, and that, to my mind, is an increasingly powerful tool for reaching our contemporary generation. Dawkins crusades against all super natural gods. Lewis gives us the way in, starting with the nature of human reason and using that as a bridge into the nature of God Himself.

Of course Lewis didn’t only deconstruct atheism; he helps us to see positively that central to Christianity is the conviction that this world is not the only world in existence. There is another world, if anything, more real than this one. And there is a door between the two worlds. Lewis used his brilliant creative imagination to paint word pictures that enable us to get through that door and comprehend things that go way beyond us. He did with language and words what musicians do with music. Transposition: using one key to explain something in another key; using the simpler to explain the more difficult, and in the much loved Narnia novels, Lewis did this masterfully. He did not regard Narnia as an imaginary world that has no counterpart in reality, but an imaginative world – something produced by the human mind as it grapples with the reality that’s bigger than itself. To use Lewis’s imagery, Narnia can be looked at as a spectacle, something to be enjoyed in its own right. Or, as a pair of spectacles, through which we could look in order to see the Christian faith illuminated from different angles, to see its coherence, and its sense as well as to demolish the arguments of its opponents.

Lewis had such a magnificent power of evocation so that when you listen to his description you sense a tingling and a thrill of sheer wonder as he strives to make the eternal world real. “All the leaves of the New Testament,” he wrote, “are rustling with” intimations of eternity. And, ladies and gentlemen, if ever we’re to win this generation, we’ve got to grasp that by experience. And we need to ask ourselves: Why do we study Scripture? And so often, for people engaged in Christian activities, their study is mainly focused on getting stuff for other people. That’s wonderful. Keep doing it. But there is a deeper and much more important thing. We read Scripture, don’t we, to get to know God, ladies and gentlemen. And to read Scripture and wait on God until we sense that rustling of the intimation of eternity – that changes people.

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