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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: CS Lewis

Shadow Mission

Tom Elenbaas

The shadow mission is the allure of centering our lives around something that is unworthy, selfish, or dark—a shadow mission. Ultimately, the shadow mission is derivative of the shadow side of our character or personality.

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The Aedyn Chronicles by Alister McGrath

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When I was a kid, like many others, I read with fascination the Chronicles of Narnia and was transported by CS Lewis to this magical parallel universe where good and evil collided, where Aslan ruled, and where normal children were princes and heroes.  My 7 year old son is now reading the Chronicles of Narnia as well, and is on the Last Battle.

I asked him to read the recent Zondervan book, "The Aedyn Chronicles: The Chosen Ones" by Alister McGrath.  I had personally read it not long ago myself and was reminded of Lewis and his imaginative writing.  Here is what Isaac wrote about it (in his own words and spelling):

I liked how the pages look like they are ripped.  I thought I ripped it for a second!  I like how you really made it feel like you were there in real life!  Your pages really look detailed.  I like the first chapter.  Well, I guss the aigtheenth.  What I really liked how it's so long.  I'm mostly always bored but I wasn't bored for a whole week because of that book.  PS. this is a blog.

I told him I wanted to blog about what he thought of the book.  Since he took a break after The Silver Chair to read this, I thought it would be good to ask him about his comparison to Narnia.  He said, "I mostly like both of them."  Then he also said, "I really liked how Lucy had that screaming power.  But I wish she could have told her bother, so he could've helped her.  If Lucy was my sister, I would have wanted to help."  He also really loved the special bows and arrows, which he mentioned to me multiple times, which explains why he liked the eighteenth chapter - which was the  archery training for battle.  He liked how it was "a mystery inside a mystery", which he said he was trying to "figure if they were going to get the Lords" and "are they gonna get the weapons?"

Here's a quick run-down of my own assessment:

  • The book seems to be a nod to Lewis in mimicking some of his style and what he was trying to accomplish with the Narnia series.
  • The book has many biblical and Christian metaphors and McGrath's Christianity seeps through the pages in many ways.
  • There is definitely a polemic going on in the subtext regarding the relationship between science and spirituality with respect to truth.  This is true of McGrath in general as a scientist and former atheist turn Christian.

Is McGrath trying to create a new mythology with a Christian subtext for a new generation?  Is he giving us what Lewis gave to his generation - a former Oxford, now King's College professor giving us a fictional entry into the biblical world?  Is this the precursor to a new imaginative apologetic?  Hard to say, and filling Lewis' shoes is harder still.

I appreciate McGrath a great deal, and was deeply inspired this past year by his Gifford Lectures on Natural Theology, his presentations at the Q Conference, and his debates with modern popular atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchins.    McGrath has much work ahead of him, and my hope is that he will continue to bring us new work that is deeply inspired, deeply thoughtful, and deeply challenging to contemporary culture.

I plan on reading it again, so does my son, and my 10 year old daughter is next when she finishes her current book.


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Gum, Geckos, and God Blog Tour pt. 4

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James SpeigelWelcome to the Gum, Geckos, and God Blog Tour!  I was delighted to be invited to participate.  I not only enjoyed reading the book, but interacting with Jim has been fun, too.  Jim Speigel is Philosophy Professor at Taylor University in Indiana. (Also, Jim and his wife just launched a new blog as well, called Wisdom and Folly.)  I had a hard time confining my questions, so I asked Jim a series of questions.  I'll be posting a new one every couple of hours, and I hope you find these engaging.  Here's the fouth installment. Embarking:  You seem to walk on some potentially dangerous territory with some evangelicals when you say, "...if fetuses and infants can be saved, then belief in Jesus Christ must not be necessary for salvation.  So whatever must be necessary for saving faith, it can't be belief in Jesus." [p. 198]  "One lesson here is that we must reject the narrow concept of explicit faith as necessary for salvation."  [p. 199] And then again when you open up salvation to those who have an implicit faith limited by the amount or type of information or understanding they receive this side of heaven.  If I were CS Lewis, I would tend to agree with you, since he opens up salvation to a post-death experience in his Great Divorce (although admittedly, almost no one survives the trip to heaven from hell and goes further up and further in).  Most people would at least say that faith in the God of Abraham is the same as faith in Jesus, but in those cases, Moses, Abraham, David, and Elijah all knew Yahweh - who even then was the same Trinitarian God.  Can you make any type of biblical case for salvation outside of faith in the Trinitarian God - whether people encounter Christ or not?  A couple things come to mind: 

  1. We are post Jesus, so we're in a different situation than the OT people.  
  2.  Would Paul open salvation to those he talks about in Romans 1, but who never encounter Christ?  
  3. On what grounds can we possibly open up salvation for those who have not heard the gospel?

SPIEGEL:  I addressed this in my response to one of Roger Overton's questions on the A-Team blog last Friday.  To answer your specific questions, in reverse order: 3) my main basis for believeing God can save some who haven't heard the gospel is consistency with the fact that infants (who die) and O.T. saints never heard the gospel but they (or many of them) are saved, which shows in principle that hearing the gospel (or having explicit beliefs about Jesus Christ) is not a necessary condition for salvation; 2) yes, I think Paul would allow for this-see my comments on the A-Team blog for my reply to the counter-argument from Romans 10:14-17; and 1) to say that our temporal location, relative to the life of Jesus, changes the criterion for salvation is arbitrary and groundless.  This is one reason why one may not hear the gospel.  Note that it is temporal in nature (applying to those who lived prior to Christ coming to earth).  Another is spatial (applying to those who don't hear the gospel because of their geographical location-that is, they happen to live in places where the gospel has not been preached).  Now if God can show mercy to some who are temporally removed from the gospel (as we must believe from Scripture), then why can't he also show mercy to some who are spatially removed?  To say that one is decisive while the other is not seems utterly arbitrary, particularly since Scripture makes clear that God transcends both time and space.


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Gum, Geckos, and God Blog Tour pt. 3

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Welcome to the Gum, Geckos, and God Blog Tour!  I was delighted to be invited to participate.  I not only enjoyed reading the book, but interacting with Jim has been fun, too.  Jim Speigel is Philosophy Professor at Taylor University in Indiana. (Also, Jim and his wife just launched a new blog as well, called Wisdom and Folly.)  I had a hard time confining my questions, so I asked Jim a series of questions.  I'll be posting a new one every couple of hours, and I hope you find these engaging.  Here's the third installment. Embarking:  On page 181 you intimate that there might be others - humanlike other persons - not from this planet.  Two question:  1) Is this inspired by CS Lewis and his Space Trilogy?  2)  What do you really think about the possibility of extra-earth non-angelic beings (and is that what Jesus means when he says, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep-pen")?

SPIEGEL:  While this is a highly speculative matter, if I had to take a side on this issue I would guess that there are indeed extra-terrestrial intelligences out there-perhaps, for all we know, hundreds or even thousands of different civilizations.  So I suppose my intuitions would be like Lewis's here.  And I would base this hunch on, among other things, God's vast creativity.  He has made such a plethora of creatures on just our planet that it would only stand to reason that he would show his extensive creativity regarding living forms throughout the universe.  Also, I think there is something to the intuition expressed by one of the characters in the film Contact:  If ours is the only planet inhabited by living things-among hundreds of billions of galaxies out there-then "that's an awful waste of space."  As for Jesus' comment about other "sheep," I don't know what this refers to, though it might indeed refer to extra-terrestrials.  But, let me reiterate, I don't have a firm view here.  I just lean on the side of credulity when it comes to extra-terrestrial life forms.


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