A good conversation – Part two
Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 25, 2018
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
One of the great truisms is that the university setting is a fertile ground for discussion.
Now, it may be argued that much of what is produced is nonsensical pablum, but there are times when the fodder is an exquisite feast for the mind.
Such it was for the Oxford dons, C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Each had developed a strong intellectual mind which dealt with the deeper matters of the human soul and psyche. Yet, in their pursuits, they were not wallowing in their posts, or positions, and often wrestled with the veracity of their positions.
C.S. Lewis was often perplexed with his burgeoning sense of the unknown. He too ascribed to the axiom, “The more I know, the less I know.” It was a sign of the curious, yet conflicted, mind which dwelt within. In his discussions, with J.R.R. Tolkien, and other close friends, there was always this sense of pursuit, as if God was “stalking” Lewis.
Begrudgingly, Lewis reached what was, to him, a perfectly rational decision. He acknowledged his new-found belief in the presence of a supreme being, by exclaiming he was, “the most reluctant convert.” He had become a theist, only recognizing a God, but ascribing to no particular beliefs. In truth, it only acknowledged a deity, but did not answer what kind and what was the personal relationship, if any.
The singular impediment to Lewis’ acceptance of Jesus’ divinity, was the central emphasis on the Christ’s sacrifice for all of mankind. As others in history, Jesus was an example for living, but it was a great leap, in faith, to believe that one would sacrifice himself, as the Son of God, for the entire human race.
If this were to be true, Lewis surmised, then Christianity must be a true religion. Consider what this means for a moment. If we accept the Sacrifice, then we must accept that God was present on this earth and through his divinity, is present with us now. It is a pretty “black and white” point of view.
Tolkien argued that the Gospels of the Bible were not counter to the ancient myths, but took the reader to the core of truth. It was discerned that, even in the mists of mythology, there were snippets of truth. It is not unlike everyone’s opinions, where embedded in the viewpoint are absolutes; no matter how infrequent.
It was to this epiphany that Lewis embraced Christianity, for there could be no rational argument against the concepts of the truths found there.
Even today, as we individually and collectively wrestle with the historilogy of the Church and the accretions which have been infused over the ages, the eternal reality of the truth remains.
As in a successful physical journey, particularly in the sense of individual growth, immature stumbling blocks are removed and mental acuteness is expanded.
No longer do we so readily accept societal peculiarities as being the rationale for our beliefs, but come to an individual grounded understanding with our Creator.
Now, this does not mean we should abandon all for the sake of self, but rather examine our own place within the Christian whole. It is this reconciliation with our relationship with the Lord and His teachings.
It all begins with the words, as given to us, acknowledging the presence of a Christian God, “Our Father…”