March 16, 2011

The Way

C S Lewis once observed that those who have been most effective in this world are those whose hearts were set on the next. There is a destinationalism, an unrealized eschatology, at the heart of our yearning for God, to whom our earthly quest Godward is always and must be asymptotic. God forbid we should put our craft in the place of God. (As Lewis also reminds us, God has forbidden it!)

Anglicanism as it has been at its most effective in this world will never appeal to those who want an object rather than a process, who want final answers instead of follow-up questions, arrival instead of journey, the bonds rather than the affection. As with the Christian faith itself, our particular take in Anglicanism is a Way. Efforts to fix it in static forms rob it of its vitality, its life.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

4 comments:

Chris H. said...

While in several places in his writings he would seem to disagree with fundamentalist "Bible Worship", I'm not sure C.S. Lewis would agree that Anglicanism is at its best when it's at its flimsiest-- process without end or questions without real answers,etc. I always re-read "The Great Divorce" before Easter and the bit above sounds very much like the bishop in that story. Perhaps I've misunderstood?

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Chris, I think you have misunderstood, at least misunderstood me. The Bishop character in G.D. is a parody of well-meaning and benevolent agnosticism and skepticism, not of a lively faith that is confident in God rather than in human speculations or human answers. The character is in love with vagueness, not hope, and what he is certain of he has wrong.

The point of my post is actually very much informed by the Great Divorce: there is a definite destination coming, it is just we are not there yet. There are definitive answers but we don't have them yet, or not all of them, anyway. A main point of GD is that even the souls in twilight have the chance to more towards the dawn, but some, such as the Bishop character, prefer the twilight of their continuous questions even though they are definitely in the position of having more answers that we do -- they are dead, after all! His tragedy is that he thinks he has arrived in heaven, when the journey from his limbo state to the real heaven is still available to him. That is the problem with certainty -- when it is wrong it is dead wrong!

Again and again the imagery in Lewis is of growth and development. "Further up and further in" as they say in Narnia. Eternity itself is an unending process for Lewis; and as for us in the present life, as he wrote in his favorite, last work, "How can we face the divine until we have faces?" My point is the same -- we have been given directions and guidance, but we are not yet at our destination.

So I don't think he would consider this "flimsy" nor do I! GD is, btw, one of my favorite books. I was in the process of seeing if it could be adapted to the stage many years back, but the rights were held by someone else. Perhaps it may see the light of day at some point in that or another form...

Anonymous said...

FWIW I too love the Great Divorce.
Now, also FWIW, I think the implied connection here and at 'The Lead', namely, that those proposing the Covenant are the ones who deny the vitality of the faith b/c they want 'the object' the 'final answers' and deny process, journey, etc., is just mistaken. I find a far greater sense of cheerful gospel pilgrimage in the ACNA groups, and those like them, than I do is most ECUSA settings. Again and again, I find the doctrinal understanding, and the understanding of what doctrine is, astonishingly low in our denomination.

And I think--who knows?--that CSL would raise an eyebrow at members of the episcopate who hold out the ideas of 'the world's being GOd's body' and hold out for consideration that 'Jesus became the Word at his baptism' as a recent book, from on high, does. A great discussion worth having would be to compare CSL's theological realism with IMHO the theological idealism (viz., subject-centered in a dominant way) that blankets our denomination.
JOHN 2007

PS Additionally, Anglicanism true and dynamic comprehensiveness allowed for some mutual correction, and theologically vitality, precisely by affirming the value what is known and affirmed, IMHO in the old days in a way that is lacking now. It's all hyper-politicized.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

John2007, as the acronym has it YM clearly MV. I do think you are correct that there are plenty of idealists in TEC, and CSL would have had them on his cooker as well as he skewered his contemporaries in the CoE! I also agree with you about comprehensiveness -- and the extent to which we lose that when we try to exclude too much. But a conservative approach is just as problematical as a politically correct liberal approach, on that score.

As to the theological points you note, I'd welcome a citation so I can see for myself if they are as bald as they appear to be in your account. Perhaps in a better context they are not quite so shocking; personally I find the adoptionist line about the baptism to be far more problematical than the one about the embodiment of God, since it is quite orthodox doctrine to claim that at least part of the world is God's body (and blood, for that matter) -- and I think CSL would have uttered a hearty Amen to that!

Thanks for dropping by.