I am pleased to be recently included in the “Theo-musings of Westminster Theological Centre faculty and friends” at the blog, Theological Miscellany. With the publication of my article, “‘Die Before You Die’: St. Paul’s Cruciformity in C.S. Lewis’s Narrative Spirituality” in Both Sides of the Wardrobe: C. S. Lewis, Theological Imagination, and Everyday Discipleship (edited by Rob Fennell), I was asked to talk a bit about C.S. Lewis’ storied spirituality. I’ve included a teaser, and you can read the whole article here.
Die Before you Die: C.S. Lewis and Cruciformity
I suspect that most of us have had one of those experiences where we hear a startlingly new idea, and yet it does not feel new to us. Instead, it is more like we are finding words for an idea that has been quietly growing inside us. I landed at my graduate program in biblical studies because a professor was able to articulate my understanding of God’s creativity in a way that I couldn’t yet find words for.
Sometime later, Watchman Nee’s treatment of Galatians 2:19-20 inThe Life that Wins was another one of these moments for me. As strange and problematic as Nee’s little book is, his idea of “surrender”—Paul’s idea that “it is no longer I who live…”—helped me find freedom from a tyranny of guilt in my heart. If we are crucified with Christ, all things are his, including my guilt, my shame, my inability. It is God, then who creates the resurrection in life. This simple, historical idea gave me that freedom that I knew was the very heartbeat of Christ’s words, the lifeblood of the gospel.
While it was Nee that named this new mental space for me, I knew that I needed to think through his idea of “surrender” in more biblical theological terms. It was to Michael J. Gorman that I ultimately found the deeper conversation I was looking for.
I came to Gorman’s work because … continue reading here.
Very nicely done.
This line of thought goes back much farther than Gorman, Nee, Lewis, or MacDonald. It is simply Orthodox (classical) Christianity. (Large O on purpose…) The awareness that death and resurrection are twined together in so much of Paul was a significant waymarker in my journey. Many aspects of Lewis’ thought leave the Anglican sphere and are much more familiar to Eastern Christianity.
If you have time, you may be interested in some of the work of Fr John Behr, PhD, Dean of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in NY. His book “Becoming Human” is a little gem. As I am more of an aural learner, I have derived much benefit listening to a 4-part video series of him basically teaching through this book to a group of O. parishioners. Begins here:
Also, this video entitled “Death – The Final Frontier” is a bit more focused: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oqv7luPo9Ws
Did you know Lewis was buried with an Orthodox cross made of flowers? A Russian couple were among his friends, and brought it to the funeral; having arrived a bit late, the casket had already been lowered into the grave. They asked the vicar if they could lay the cross on his casket before it was buried, and the vicar gave permission.
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Thanks Dana. I got this note by email before i could get online. I’ll have to take a look at Fr. Behr’s videos. Honestly, I’m relatively unschooled on the East, beyond the outlines of thought.
I didn’t know that about the burial, but it is a nice story. If Lewis said anything about Orthodox thought, I can’t remember. But it is likely to be a caricature like his thought on Hinduism–stronger on outline than on shading.
He did write somewhere that when he and Joy made the trip to Greece, he attended an Orthodox Liturgy, and thought the way people moved around during the service was wonderful – unaffected and natural in the worship setting (my words, not his). I don’t recall reading anything else.
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