Aaaand…we’re back.

Vicky Dillen of Seekgod.ca has emailed me her reply to my last blog post. As before, I reproduce it below, with my commentary in bold…

Hmmm….apparently my deadline is not only whooshing past, it’s hitting a wall called Gavin and his blog.

“Reading anything good this minute? “

Actually I have been reading the good books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, John, Matthew, Romans, Acts, Ephesians…you get the picture…..and then I read your blog…hmmm

So, I will attempt to send another response, only because I feel some things need to be addressed.

>To what other writing are you referring?>>>

What you wrote in the article/blog…aside from your email to me. That’s all I was referring to.

>>>No. That’s neither what I said nor what I meant. Of course you can believe whatever you like. The point about ‘letters after the name’ is that it allows you to evaluate what level of expertise a person is bringing to the discussion. You may well know the Bible inside out and back to front. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that you know anything about literature. So when you start evaluating literature, in a sense it doesn’t matter that you know the Bible so well: you might be a formidable Biblical scholar, but that doesn’t necessarily enable you to take apart, say, The Lord of the Rings in any depth.>>>

Just because someone does not have the letters does not mean they have not studied the subject matter. Many people never go to college/university, hence no ‘letters’ but can become very well versed in whatever topic that is of interest to them.  However you are incorrect in that it does matter that a believer evaluates all to the Word of God. That appears to be where we differ. As I stated to you Gavin, I am fairly well read.

“One thing I should clarify is what appears to be an assumption on your part concerning my having read anything and somehow I have missed out on something. I was an avid reader growing up-it was my escape;ex.  in Junior High (gr 7-9) I read a novel within 2-3 days, and then got the next one, and when I completed a section or topic/subject area in the school library I read the non-fiction related to the subject matter. I was a solid student in high school for literature and yes we studied Shakespeare etc. In other words….I am not totally ignorant of books, fiction or otherwise, as one might be inclined to believe. I read quite considerably as a young mom as time permitted as well. Which grew less as our children grew…our children are avid readers to this day–and what they often read is not what I would agree with.

In saying that, as I have grown in Christ, I have come to believe that in our presentation of Truth of Him, that should be presented clearly without, ‘cunningly devised tales” as some are wont to do. Further, I believe our days are to be focused on sharing Him with others. We don’t know how much time any of us have, and we are to do all for His honor and glory and be about our Master’s business. Not sure if that clarifies anything but….”

In other words, the perception that I have no knowledge of literature is a false assumption and apparently, based on what is being said, a false accusation. Incidentally what I threw out when I was 14 were things that were clearly of the occult.

>>>>Fair enough. But you still choose to affiliate your website, through using those bottom-of-the-page buttons, with both Top 1000 ranking systems. Therefore the claim is made that you are in the top 1000. It says so at the bottom of every page! Perhaps it is time to think about getting rid of the buttons? Their association doesn’t seem to strengthen your position. 1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”>>>>

Actually it does pose a quandary doesn’t it for all Christians…Simply being on the internet on any search engine, means being ‘listed’ according to rank of that search engine…Regardless… The name of  the group doesn’t matter because every site is ranked by search engine criteria. That you think the directory called Christian Top 1000 actually means its the top 1000 of all Christian sites on the internet is amusing but certainly not correct. That is merely the name the owner of the directory chose. It certainly was not even in the top ranks of directories when I joined it and there were a few hundred listed in it.. Where it stands today on the internet…I really don’t know. I don’t check those things. When I do check my stats–once in a few months- I see I do get a few hits occasionally from that directory, but most of my traffic comes via search engines. People using search terms.  I realise that sounds foolish, but as I stated to you, I have not promote d my site since I first submitted it to several search engines in 2000.  It doesn’t matter to me where or ‘what rank’ I might appear at to someone. It’s inconsequential to me. There’s billions of websites out there. If someone finds my site, it’s by God’s grace. Because it isn’t my issue.

“That you think the directory called Christian Top 1000 actually means its the top 1000 of all Christian sites on the internet is amusing but certainly not correct.” Ah – so false advertising then is a commendable Christian virtue? Or are you honestly trying to tell me that I’m being ludicrously silly to think that ‘Top 1000 Christian Websites’ means it contains the ‘Top 1000 Christian Websites’? Hmm…take a step back and consider whether you really want to defend these people… 😉

As you yourself put it, on the introduction page to your own website:
“While Biblically obedient Believers would not wish to be joined with many individuals and groups linked with the many “Christian” ventures, others would suggest the end justifies the means.”

I found your website via Google. I didn’t need the Top 1000 ranking thing. Is it time for Dumbo to let go of the feather?

>>>>There is a single reference to Berea in the New Testament, and the Berean denomination has a single church in London (founded by Americans). Although the Bereans began in Scotland, they only lasted a couple of decades in the 19th Century before being absorbed into the Congregationalist denominations. Just because I have never heard of a denomination that has been extinct in this country for nearly 200 years, and a single reference to a city slipped my mind (do you honestly think I haven’t read Acts?), you can’t assume that my priorities are all screwed up. Using ‘Berean’ as shorthand to describe a concept isn’t necessarily helpful: of course I believe in the rigorous application of Scripture. I just don’t refer to that as Bereanism, that’s all. (In the UK, we would cover that with ‘conservative evangelicalism’.)>>>>

I simply found it amusing. Because being ‘as a berean’ is about seeing if what people say/teach is in the Scriptures, is actually there. It was never known to me as a denomination. My point was that you know about myths and fables but missed that. Just a point being made. Had nothing to do with whether you know the bible or not. As you said, your focus on this issue is from a literary standpoint. My focus on this is from a Scriptural standpoint. That means we are quite literally apparently on a different page. You have said that also.

>>>>I’m happy to acknowledge that you never claim to be a teacher. I know it’s a claim you haven’t made. But I was very careful in what I said: you don’t claim to be a teacher, you merely set yourself up as one. When you promulgate a Biblical message, you ‘teach’ it. You impart information. You hope, I presume, to ‘instruct in righteousness’. And that is fine. It is what we are all commanded to do. But in so doing, you must acknowledge that there is a stricter standard, a more rigorous analysis, to be applied: no Christian (I would hope) would want to be a ‘false teacher’, even if they only become one through innocent ignorance. By publishing your research online, you make available a resource through which you hope Christians will improve their understanding of God. And even if you don’t acknowledge your teacherhood, that is still the mantle you have chosen to take up.>>>>

Actually what has always been my hope is that people won’t go by what I say or my opinions but rather…..that they would know it has always been about Christ, about a relationship with HIM , obedience to Him and abiding the Word of God, which is to be our standard to form our beliefs from. It’s about following Him, not people or their opinions. That’s actually what I am about.

And helping people to do that confers a level of responsibility on you that it behooves you to acknowledge. That’s all I’m saying.

>>>Of course you are. It is not my intention, nor has it ever been, to silence you or your ministry. But where I think it is misguided, where it is mistaken; where it is restrictive or unhelpful; where it is erroneous or unconsidered, there I will raise a flag. Not to destroy but to improve. All I want, in the end, is for people to know why they believe what they believe.>>.

Fair enough. Just so you understand that I don’t have to agree with what you call misguided or mistaken. etc. IN other words, I might just be saying you might be mistaken and misguided. 😉

>>>No. My right to make it lies in the fact that I can and do produce evidence to back up my assertion. People, as you point out, can either take it on board or not as they see fit. And that, too, is fine. The judgement you made, that you ABSOLUTELY do not have any right to make, is over who is saved and who is not. That is a sin born of the most dangerous of the vices, Spiritual Pride. >>>

Actually I documented heavily all the articles. You can draw different conclusions, but I based my evaluation on full documentation. However, you are ABSOLUTELY right that No one has the right over who is saved or not. My statement concerning Lewis was more of a gasp of no Christian would do this. But I don’t normally and guard against determining if someone is saved or not. Jesus did say we would know false prophets and false teachers by their fruits, and we can evaluate their fruits which include what they teach and evidence of fruit of the Spirit and what they do in abiding the Word of God. Because Jesus said if we love Him we will keep His commandments.

That said. You are absolutely correct I should not have said that statement concerning Lewis. It has been removed. It was not intended in the way you read it…but more as a knee jerk reaction from me. It simply should not have ever been said.

Thank you. I appreciate that it’s never pleasant to back down (especially when you know you’re in the wrong – been there, done that, own many of the tee-shirts…) so doing so graciously reflects well on you 🙂

>>>True. But secular qualifications do qualify you (as the name might suggest) to form judgements on secular matters….Similarly, if we’re going to be talking about fantasy and mythology, then I want to know that the person leading the discussion understands these things in their own right, so that they know how to apply their Biblical knowledge>>

Yes, but as Christians we are to view things through ‘the mind of Christ..” The lens we are to look through is the Scriptures. Everything –even secular teachings can have religious connotations. That’s why Christians try to read Christian things into secular books. That’s why you attempt to put meaning and evaluate the ‘message’ in myths and fables. Because of trying to find meaning in them.

You seem to think I have drawn the conclusions I have without using the lens to which you refer. When I see Christian virtue in a secular resource, am I then to ignore it? Or should I tell people that hey, here’s something else they can read that doesn’t replace, but merely reaffirms, Biblical truths (and perhaps, as some of my more hardcore atheist friends might acknowledge, in a more palatable form)?

1 Corinthians 2:11-16  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  12.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  13.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  14.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  15.  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  16.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The problem seems to be in determining what the bible says about these things.

>>>Similarly, I trust the Bible, and I’m even prepared to take it on faith that you are a biblical scholar – but I have no assurance from you that you know what you are talking about when it comes to myth and fantasy. You don’t offer me any evidence to suggest that you have the least idea what you are talking about, and actually your misreadings of, for example, ‘That Hideous Strength’ suggest quite the reverse. Fundamentally, you haven’t argued anything – you have merely asserted.>>>

Well, see that’s where we would disagree isn’t it? As I stated, I am not devoid of knowledge of those topics. I just happen to have a different understanding and apply the scriptures different than you. Does that make you right? Your assertions appear to be based on your belief that you can separate your knowledge of literature from the Scriptures…and evaluate accordingly.  I disagree.

<<<This is why qualifications and credentials help. They mark out terms of reference and engagement. You say ‘Merlin to the average person’ – but there’s no evidence to support your claim >>>

Qualifications and credentials work in the secular world–but Not according to God’s perceptions of such with believers and non believers. I already gave the verses on that.

God chooses not to vouchsafe to me who is or is not an expert. Therefore, I have to get that information from some other source. Accredited Universities don’t tell me who is or is not a Christian, but they’re very good at letting me know who is an expert microbiologist, philologist…or theologian! Look, I didn’t set out to be a cheerleader for academic qualifications here, but I seem to have wound up being put there. So setting academia to one side for a moment, can we not just agree that someone who has read lots and lots of fantasy is likely to know more about it than someone who hasn’t? And might be better placed to offer insight than someone who knows less about it? Forget, for the moment, that by Christmas this year I’ll be entitled to put MA, MLitt, PhD after my name – can we not just take it that I, perhaps, have access through training and experience to analytical tools that a layperson might not?

Actually I did list viewpoints concerning Merlin. Even children associate Merlin with the Sword and the Stone….haven’t you read that? I did. 😉 Just one  source but one of  997,000 in the search I used.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlin

So your issue is with Walt Disney, not with me! (Hey, I have issues to take up with Disney too: he wrecked folkloric traditions in my native Ireland 😦 ) And if we’re talking about sourcing, I recommend this article here, as it seems to describe a trap you have fallen into. What I’m saying is, if you’re going to make general assertions, you need a systematic review in order to back them up. That’s how it works.

To make another point entirely: have you considered that perhaps Lewis was writing against the Merlinic tradition? 😉 ‘Kicking against the pricks’, so to speak?

<<<One last point, before I move on. Aren’t all Christians to be compared with Christ? Isn’t every Christian meant to represent Christ, that he might be seen in them? What makes Merlin any different? (I know that isn’t what you’re saying. But this does seem to me to be the ground on which our eventual agreement might lie).>>>

Absolutely! and that is my point. Christians are to follow Christ, from the Scriptures. Not some made up person, or another Jesus or another gospel. Merlin is not Christ, nor does he depict Christ of the Scriptures in whatever literature he is found. That’s my point. There is one Lord…not a bunch of made up variations.

So Merlin cannot be redeemed in fiction, then? That seems a bit harsh…

As far as proving my statements—it’s in the quotes in the articles.

<<<Yes, this is absolutely part of the academic reality I live in, and that is not in the least controversial. It’s really very simple: the critic knows more about the book than the author. Provided, of course, that the critic is qualified to comment on the work in the first place (not necessarily by producing credentials or letters after their name, but through long experience in the field in which he works.) >>>

Every person that picks up that book becomes qualified to critique that book. It has nothing to do with being in ‘the field.’ It has everything to do with understanding what is written through the lens that person sees that writing through. That’s the reality of reading comprehension. If all understanding of the writing must only be done by particular people then there is no need for anyone to ever read a book. They can merely read the critical review aka someone’s opinion and grasp what that person says it is about and be satisfied with that. You know how ludicrous that sounds.

Assuming that the person who picks up the book reads it, then yes, they are qualified to offer a critique. But that is not the same as saying they are qualified to offer an informed or valid critique. That’s like assuming that just because you crack a joke, everyone will laugh. But there will be people who don’t get the joke. Books are far, far, FAR more complicated than jokes. What you’re suggesting is akin to saying everybody who can wire a plug is certified to rebuild a fried computer motherboard. And that’s simply not true. I know I’m going to sound elitist here, but actually, I only sound that way because I am. Everybody who sits down at a piano is qualified to play that piano, but not everyone has musical ability; not everyone is going to be a great pianist. Everyone who can hold a paintbrush can sit at a canvas and paint: not everyone is going to be Michaelangelo. Now, I know that what you’re suggesting is slightly different: you’re saying that everyone who can listen to a CD can determine if the pianist is any good, and everyone who can look at a painting can determine whether the artist was worth his salt. If so, that is where you and I irretrievably part company. I believe in the existence of experts. You appear not to. It does make me wonder how you could suffer to be taught English in school, since you were, apparently, as qualified to teach the subject as your teacher by the time you’d finished reading the book… Now, maybe yours is a cry for egalitarianism in readership. But the real world simply doesn’t work that way: there are such things as bad readers, and there are such things as expert critics. They do not replace readers, but they may support them by showing them things they had not seen otherwise.

I read the Bible. But that doesn’t mean I don’t credit John Stott (for example) with wisdom and expertise, and it doesn’t mean I know as much about it as he does at first reading. John Stott doesn’t replace the Bible – but his writings do augment my understanding of it. In the same way, myth and fantasy don’t supplant the Bible – but is worth considering the points at which they converge, because learning cuts in both directions and I might discover something anew in all the texts in question.

Every author knows that what they write will be received by different readers in different ways. It doesn’t mean one interpretation is going to be better than another. UNLESS, the author prefaces the writing with an outline analysis of any and all hidden meanings and/or intent behind every concept and phrase….including choice of presentation, characters and so on. Many people actually agree with my articles about Lewis, Potter etc. Shocking I know. But it’s because of their view and understanding of things. That includes pastors…and other people with ‘letters’ behind their names. In fact, I know there are others who have written similar critiques. For the same Scriptural reasons. And irony of ironies, those who love Potter ect use my research and have thanked me for it in spite of my stand.

The person upon whose poetry I am writing my doctoral thesis is a Northern Irish poet called Paul Muldoon. Muldoon, who is one of the best poets of the 20th Century, once said “It is the poet’s job, as best as he or she is able, to take into account all possible readings of the text.” But you seem to go further than that: you seem to suggest the author’s intent is the ultimate trump card. And that doesn’t fly. It never has done. The seminal work on this idea is Roland Barthes’s essay ‘The Death of the Author’, which explains that the reader, if he or she is sufficiently alive to the subtleties of the text, is in a better position to comment. And as I’ve already explained, there are such things as bad readers. Good readers get the subtleties. Experts explain them.

To pick a secular example…You may not have read ‘Dracula’ but you will know, I’m sure, the basic tenets of the plot. Dracula, a vampire, comes from Transylvania to England, essentially to surround himself with a vast food supply. A small band of vampire-hunters accretes round Jonathan Harper and Van Helsing and drives Dracula back to his castle, where they kill him. (Sorry about the spoilers!) But there is much more going on in that book that that sparse two-sentence synopsis suggests. Christopher Frayling, an expert on gothic fiction (gothic here used in the correct literary and cultural sense, having nothing to do with wannabe-consumptive teenagers wearing black and doing silly things to their hair), compiled this list of things you can read Dracula as being ‘about’:

“…civilisation and its discontents, the return of the repressed, sex from the neck up, homo-eroticism, bisexuality and gender bending; reverse colonialism (the East getting its own back on the West) and a cosmic racial conflict between modern Anglo-Saxon stock and the 1,400-year-old bloodline of Attila the Hun; hysteria, the empowerment of women, the disempowerment of women; the sense of displacement of a middle class Protestant Dubliner, complete with retreat into the occult, crumbling aristocracy and sense of being strangled by red tape. And so on.”

The list is by no means comprehensive, and actually when I was writing about Dracula I was looking at it from yet another angle. But my point is this: it takes someone intimately familiar with a text to point out what it might be ‘about’, since there is normally much more than one interpretation available. Stating definitively ‘this text is about THIS’ is doomed to fail even before you begin to utter the words. Multiple readings excavate multiple meanings, and the more you spend time doing something the more likely you are to become good at it. So while anyone who reads a book becomes qualified to talk about it, there are very good reasons for saying “yes but the person most likely to teach me something new about it is someone who has properly studied it, whether they were in an academic context or not.” The only advantage to academia is that it not only enables you to study thoroughly; it also teaches you how to do that most effectively.

So let’s not devalue expertise, shall we? Apart from anything else, I think you and I both would expect the minister of a church to be an expert on the Word of God…

<<<You have misunderstood me. I meant that we must be careful in what conclusions we draw, because Lewis wasn’t writing to us and the potential for misinterpretation is therefore very great. Of course God sees all – my point is that we don’t. >>>

No we don’t and that is why we evaluate what has been made public….which I evaluated. I fully disagree with your analysis of the “praying to Christ “sub species Apollinis“.  issue. There is no sub species in Christ. This to me is where it matters. This is about knowing the Scriptures and applying them and knowing who Christ is. I find the statement spiritually wrong. You don’t have to agree…and I don’t have to agree with you.

Then let’s leave it as an irreconcilable difference. I think the issue is more complicated than you’re suggesting, but I suspect neither of us will be able to change the other’s certainty or lack thereof.

<<<Have you ever tried writing fiction? Long fiction? To criticise Tolkien on this suggests that you have not. Tolkien was writing a story, first and foremost, not a tract; the themes brought out in later drafts >>>>

Actually Gavin, I took a writing for children course–aside from the many stories I wrote through school assignments. And I wrote considerable, planning, doing the outlines etc. I think I still have the complete novel draft which was the final assignment. I also wrote some children’s stories aka ‘parable style’ for sunday school.. You see Gavin, you presume because I reject the notion that we can present evil as good in our writings, to mean I don’t comprehend that we can write things that glorify God and uphold Scriptural Truths. You also misread where I wrote about imagination. I am going to quote something here …

“.There are those who believe that unbridled imagination, fables, fantasy and fairy tales are simply a good exercise for the imagination of children and adults alike. Everything is supposed to become acceptable in an imaginary world, despite the varied ideas being contrary to Biblical truth. However, God views imagination, that is, the purpose, fabrications, ideas and thoughts that come out of a person, to be rooted in their spiritual beliefs.  Imagination, which are the deep thoughts of a person, reveals what is inside of them.

Mark 7:20-23  20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

There is a massive question of context here. Let’s analyse the Parable of the Prodigal Son together.

Foolishness: “Father, give me the portion of the goods that falleth to me”

Adulteries, fornications, wickedness, lasciviousness: ‘riotous living’, ‘living with harlots’

Covetousness: ‘And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat’, “thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends”

Evil thoughts: ‘And he was angry, and would not go in’

Pride: ‘Therefore his father came out, and intreated him.’

So here’s the question. Do you really want to apply these verses as you are doing? Because Jesus imagined these characters. That, according to your application of the verses, has some very serious implications on your analysis of Jesus’s character. Of course we need to be careful what we think about. But there is all the difference in the world between (for example) indulging a sexual fantasy and writing a story in which a character has to face the consequences of his infidelities.

We can see that Imagination is not just fun or harmless. It is what a person is about. Imagination is defined in the dictionary as, “the power of forming in the mind pictures of things not present to the senses. 2 the ability to create new things or ideas or to combine old ones in new forms. 3 a creation of the mind; fancy.”  Imagination emphasizes power to create new pictures and ideas by giving new meaning to things seen or known before or by creating things that never existed and making them seem real. …

What we think about, through our imagination or thoughts, what we focus on, what we enjoy and call good is who we are. If we focus on and enjoy evil and sin and the things of the occult, our hearts are focused on and accepting evil. …”

You said to me we are to reflect Christ. That is exactly the point I am trying to make. Everything, including the things we imagine is to be honoring to God. I don’t think that is a difficult concept. Every part of who we are including our imaginations–which are God given— are to honor Christ. That means what we think about and imagine and write about should be acceptable to HIM.  Can you honestly say that all that you read could pass HIS evaluation of what is true and right before HIM? That to me is what it is about.

>>>>I recommend you read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ >>>>>

You want me to read Stephen King…..roflllllllllllllllll  I honestly have better things to read.

Ah – so you’ve read ‘On Writing’ then? You are equipped to make this evaluation that it’s no good? Otherwise, you may just have judged the man’s textbook on the grounds that he writes fiction of which you disapprove, and that, in turn, would leave you looking somewhat silly. I do hope this isn’t the case.

<<<<Alright – that’s fair enough. But what that actually entails is by no means clear. For example, one might argue that an imagination suborned to God will not construct a shocking, sexually-explicit metaphor. But Exekiel 23 is exactly that – a sustained and explicit sexual metaphor (it is the source of the expression ‘hung like a horse’). As always, the problem is not in the instruction, it is in its application. And a lot of the answer will be down to individual consciences. >>>

We can learn so much from the OT. It definitely is a record of who God is, about Israel’s obedience and disobedience, the effect of sin on lives and behavior, and so much more; and the law and the prophets pointing to Christ. If we want to live according to Christ then we need to look at the New testament….because He brought in the New Covenant where there are over 1000 do’s and don’t–if one wants to be ‘technical. We have no righteousness in ourselves. It is Christ who is our righteousness. We know that in the NT we see what things are to characterise those who live for Christ–who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit.

Here’s what I mean:

Galatians 5:22-26  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  23.  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  24.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  25.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  26.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Ephesians 5:1-7  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;  2.  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.  3.  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  4.  Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.  5.  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  6.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  7.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

Ephesians 5:8-13  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:  9.  (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)  10.  Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  11.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  12.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  13.  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

Ephesians 4:17-25  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  18.  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:  19.  Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  20.  But ye have not so learned Christ;  21.  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:  22.  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  23.  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  24.  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  25.  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour : for we are members one of another.

Ephesians 4:29-32  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  30.  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  31.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  32.  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

1 Peter 4:1-5  Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;  2.  That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.  3.  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:  4.  Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:  5.  Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

Philippians 4:5-9  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.  6.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  7.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  8.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  9.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Believers are called to live Christ. I think Paul said it most eloquently when he said, for to me, to live, is Christ. That’s what we are to be about. There is no separation of any area of our lives from that. It’s all for Christ, for His honor and glory, or it is not.

All of which is a massively wordy way of avoiding the question, which was: how do you reconcile God’s use of allegory, metaphor and imagery – God, remember, whom the Bible teaches us repeatedly as being ‘unchanging’ – with your particular strictures on the ‘Christian’ use of allegory, metaphor and imagery? Frankly, if you and God seem to disagree as to what is appropriate, who do you think should take a step back and re-evaluate things? 😉

>>>For example (and this is a genuine question, not me poking at you), how do you reconcile running your website, and providing your research, with 1 Timothy 2: 11 – “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection”? For the record, I have no problem with you doing what you do. But I am curious as to how a Berean woman who runs a website applies this instruction.>>>>

Because I am not simply learning….I am not in a church asking questions and disrupting the service in order to comprehend a scripture. I am in fact sharing what I have already learned after years of learning. It used to say that the website was for women….. How come you are reading it?  😉 ” It is very much a ministry for women, and I  enjoy the correspondence with the many, especially women, who write and share their struggles and growth.” I’ve taken heat over that from men, wanting to know what is wrong with sharing with men. There’s no pleasing people.

The ‘equipping of the saints’ means at some point people are actually supposed **to be equipped** to be a solder of the cross and do the ministry God has for each person —men and women. All are called to share the Gospel and be a witness of Jesus Christ.. All are called to edify one another in the Body of Christ. This happens to be our family ministry. That God has given me a desire to research and write–and has provided information that I would never have found …I can attest to. Am I perfect or do I think I have all my ducks in a row….hardly. But the things that I do understand..I will stand for. People don’t have to agree. Just as I don’t have to agree with them.

Right…so, your interpretation of this verse allows you to do what you want to do. Fair enough. But it does rather open the door on ‘differing interpretations of scripture’ not necessarily being quite as black-and-white an issue as you have hitherto made out 😉

<<<This is true. But Lewis’s characters, who do not have any equivalent of a Bible, or of the Holy Spirit, are doing what they can to contact the equivalent of Christ. Where witchcraft is encountered in the books, it is condemned (you could not read Jadis, for example, as a heroine): magic is trickier, because it is the only mechanism the characters believe they have to reach out to Aslan. Condemning witchcraft is good. But what you’re condemning, in the Narnia books, is the Narnians’ equivalent of prayer. >>

To me that is utter nonsense. On the one hand people say it’s depicting Christ and then it’s like…well sort of… and well the prayer is actually magic but we can pretend it’s really prayer. And it’s ok to present another gospel and another Jesus—with all manner of doctrine coming from ‘him’ contrary to Scripture because it just works that way, because they didn’t have a bible to refer to in their world.

Guess what. The readers do, as did the author. And he created another ‘jesus’ that couldn’t bring ‘salvation’ on his own. This is where we are going to seriously disagree. Because you cannot separate Biblical truth from the mind of a believer who belongs to Jesus Christ. That would go against the Scriptures.

What you are saying is that a person aka a believer can make all manner of false doctrine in a mythical writing and call it truth because of it being a myth. Yet in the same breath you are saying it’s supposed to represent Christ. Therefore you are changing who Christ is. Sorry—it doesn’t jive Scripturally. Can you prove to me from the Scriptures that we can invent another gospel and another Jesus and say it is Truth? And say that it depicts the real Jesus, our Savior and Lord. I don’t mean the ‘literary’ answer. I want to know Scripturally…

Wow. Okay – I’m not sure what the ‘false doctine’ is to which you refer. But I think we both agree that a representation of Christ is not the same thing as Christ Himself. That includes the Gospels too , incidentally – Christians are not saved by reading a historical account of Jesus, they are saved through meeting Him as a real and living Person right now. And we cannot write new Gospels, but we can write allegories. I am not, nor have I ever, claimed that the Narnia books are equal to the Gospels. I would consider that blasphemous. I am not suggesting children pray to Aslan, nor that adults should start wondering whether they can put an extension on the house via the back of the wardrobe. Lewis himself made the point, in one of the books (I can’t bring to mind which one – maybe ‘The Last Battle’?), that the Earthly manner of worshipping God was quite, quite different to the Narnian, and that the children’s experience of Him would be vastly different. No one appears to be making the argument against which you are writing; neither me, nor my friends, nor Lewis himself. Again, are you sure you haven’t misread a few things here?

James 3:12-18  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.  13.  Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.  14.  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  15.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.  16.  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.  17.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  18.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

2Co 11:3  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  15.  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  16.  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.Galatians 1:7-10  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  8.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  9.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.  10.  For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

What you appear to be saying is that in the world of literature and myth and legend, they are off limits to Biblical scrutiny and Biblical standard. People -Christians-can create their own myths, filled with false beliefs or evil and call it their truth, even when it is fully against the Scriptures and that is good. And I have to say from a believer’s standpoint—it goes against the scriptures

No, I’m saying that before you start applying Biblical scrutiny and Biblical standards to anything you need to know what it is, exactly, that you’re applying them to.

You said to me…<<<<<<One last point, before I move on. Aren’t all Christians to be compared with Christ? Isn’t every Christian meant to represent Christ, that he might be seen in them?>>>>

What part of that is representing Christ in us to others?

1Co 13:6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Eph 5:9  (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Titus 2:6-8  Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.  7.  In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,  8.  Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

James 1:21-22  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  22.  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

>>>They are, like yours, anchored in the Bible. My arguments are rooted in academia, because that is what academia teaches you: it teaches you how to argue, how to debate and persuade by reason and logic. You aren’t arguing, you’re asserting, and actually you’re not ‘answering’ anything line-by-line, because you’re not providing evidence>>>

Show me Scripturally the answers to the above. Not literature—but as someone reflecting Jesus Christ to the world. Who may only see you as that possible reflection….what do they see? I don’t need to debate you Gavin. In fact we are told as believers, not to debate, which I know is contrary to what secular teachings have instilled in you.

2Co 12:20  For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults

Romans 1:28-29  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  29.  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

Let’s check this out, shall we? I provided a very clear and precise definition of what I was about: ‘to debate and persuade by reason and logic’. And you tell me I am not to debate, providing a very specific Biblical justification. So let’s look at it.

First of all, the King James Version is the only version of an English Bible I could find that uses the word ‘debate’. The majority of the others use ‘strife’ or ‘quarrel’. Now, I believe in not sowing strife and I have no desire to do so.  Likewise quarrelling: in neither strife nor quarrelling do reason and logic have any place. I’m up for discussing and debating, not fighting and name-calling. Even academics would argue that it’s not a helpful thing to do ;-). So let’s check out the Greek, and see if you and the KJV are right here, or me and the NIV, NASB, Amplified Bible, NLT, ESV, ASV, YLT, DT, HCSB, WE and ISV. The Greek word in question is ‘eris‘. Now, Eris is also a proper name in Greek: she was the goddess of discord. And I’m all in favour of avoiding discord: I am, however, in favour of elengkhos, against which there is no Biblical prohibition, and which is what I’ve been talking about all along.

You will believe what you want to believe, just as I will believe what I choose to believe. I can assert my beliefs, just as you are doing. I don’t need to argue about it. You appear to want to argue about it. I just don’t see it as necessary. You will uphold your beliefs and promote them. I said I normally respond line by line but couldn’t see the point because of how far apart we are in our thinking. I also told you I am in the midst of writing a series and need to focus on that. However, I thought I should respond one more time.

Incidentally I don’t think considering or thinking about things is exclusive from Scriptural beliefs, as I am being accused. That would be tantamount to saying those who believe the bible lack intelligence or the ability to think, wouldn’t it.?

1 Corinthians 1:5-7  That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;  6.  Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:  7.  So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

I am saying one doesn’t need secular credentials to be able to comprehend or discuss or have an opinion about a topic. Based on your comments and your poster responses, I am being accused of being arrogant, ignorant and whatever. Yet what I did was a critical review of your favorite writings. I analysed, I quoted, I researched, I challenged, I asked hard questions, and gave my opinion, personally and Scripturally. Exactly what you say you do… Now you  -meaning you Gavin and what appear to be men commenting, are hypocritical because you all think no one should be able to do that but you, or those in the realm of secular credentials.. And if it’s about something you like, it better affirm your analysis and critiques.

Let’s all take a step back from the ad hominem attacks, shall we? That really is what was being criticised in (for example) 2 Corinthians 12:20. First of all, I think you have just demonstrated in fairly spectacular fashion the danger of making assumptions: the first two commenters – ones whose comments, in other words, I know you’ve seen – would be somewhat startled at your analysis of their personages: would you care to apologise to Faye and Josephine?

Secondly, I entirely agree that you performed a critical review. I acknowledge that you quoted, that you researched, that you analysed, that you challenged and that you asked hard questions. No one, I’m sure, could be in any doubt that you offered your opinion based on this. Here’s the thing: your essay wasn’t very good. It wasn’t convincing. And you yourself have offered a reason why: you offer me your opinion ‘personally and Scripturally’ but not, crucially, in a way that demonstrates any understanding of the books you were reading. It was a bad critique.

University education has nothing to do with it. This is simply about doing a job, and whether or not you’re doing it well or poorly. Literary criticism is a skill, and you can be good at it or bad at it regardless of whether or not you happen to have a degree in it. Training helps, in the same way that good doctors have been trained in medicine and good plumbers have training in plumbing. I happen to be trained in literary criticism: you have, in that regard, simply had the misfortune to start making arguments in front of someone who, for the last few years, has been learning both how to make those kinds of arguments and how to take apart ones that don’t hold up. And to make something quite clear: I have no problem with you personally. I don’t know you, I’ve never met you,  I am holding no grudge and I’m sure you’re a perfectly lovely individual. But you have said some things which, as I said before, I consider to be ‘palpable nonsense’.

Let me also make clear that I am perfectly willing to go away and re-evaluate the things I know (or think I know) on the basis of good argument. That I have not done so on this occasion is because I have not been presented with a good argument. As I have said before, you make wild assertions and then fail to back them up. It’s no good proving a point in one book by quoting another. Context is everything, and this is really where your arguments fall down. Where, in ‘That Hideous Strength’, is Merlin equated with Christ? What is the context of that evaluation? Is it the narrator who says so? A character? A Christian character? All this is vital information and you haven’t provided it, not because you are lazy but because you didn’t seem to realise it was important. It’s examples of things like that, as opposed to letters-after-the-name, that make me think you are not qualified to do a good job in this regard. (And just so we’re clear: letters-after-the-name folks make mistakes in this regard too. It’s just that they are less likely to do so. In the same way, going to a doctor is no guarantee that they won’t make you feel worse. But they are less likely to.) Of course you can comprehend and evaluate and discuss and hold opinions – but you should be prepared to have to defend them, and you should equally be prepared to have them demonstrated as requiring a little more work. 😉

1Co 1:19  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1Co 1:20  Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

I also think God uses many things to bring people to Himself. But we are called to prove all things to the Word and to make sure our doctrine and what we do, can stand the test of Scripture. What He does and uses and what He calls us to do according to the Scriptures…isn’t necessarily the same. See: Job 38-42

Isa 40:13  Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
Isa 40:14  With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

Isaiah 40:28  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

Sincerely,

Vicky

Vicky Dillen
Seek God
http://www.SeekGod.ca/index.htm
Discussion Forum >
http://www.SeekGod.ca/forum/

Thanks, Vicky.

Look, everybody! Trains!

Thomas, from the children's books written by the Reverand W. Awdry. Possibly satanic.

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About Gavin

I am a 32-year-old PhD student in Aberdeen, Scotland. I work in QC at an e-learning company. I'm originally Northern Irish, though I've lived here in Aberdeen for several years. I am, essentially, somebody who is very normal, yet to whom very strange things keep happening...
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3 Responses to Aaaand…we’re back.

  1. Eruntane says:

    [quote]Lewis himself made the point, in one of the books (I can’t bring to mind which one – maybe ‘The Last Battle’?), that the Earthly manner of worshipping God was quite, quite different to the Narnian, and that the children’s experience of Him would be vastly different.[/quote]

    I think the bit you mean might be at the end of ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’, where Aslan has just told Edmund and Lucy that they will not be returning to Narnia, and they are upset.

    ‘”It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
    “But you shall meet me there, dear one,” said Aslan.
    “Are – are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
    “I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name.”‘

    PS. I’m not offended about being mistaken for a man!

  2. Pingback: The end of the line. « Starlingford Chronicles

  3. peter dickson says:

    how many folks will read that reply—–surely no one will

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