Thursday, 24 March 2011
Sin - 4
Robert Capon: I figure there isn’t one. Or do you mean to sin against the Holy Ghost?
TB: Yes, that’s what I mean.
RC: When you say sin against the Holy Ghost you’ve got to mean the turning of one’s back on the Holy Spirit, who takes of what is Christ’s and shows it to us. If you are unwilling to take that, to be open to what the Spirit shows about Christ, then that cuts you off automatically. It isn’t that you get punished. It means that you have blinded yourself to the Spirit’s communication to you about who Christ is for you from the foundations of the world.
TB: That reminds me of what C.S. Lewis was saying in his last Chronicles of Narnia book, The Last Battle.
RC: Yes—a wonderful book.
TB: The dwarves, they just refused to see it.
RC: That was a wonderful image. That was one of the big strokes of genius in The Last Battle.
TB: Who are some of your favourite Christian writers?
RC: Let me give you some of my history. When I was 17, it was C.S. Lewis. And then he led me, because of his kind words, to G.K. Chesterton. Read his book, Orthodoxy. It’s a wonderful book. There’s one chapter in that book called "The Ethics of Elfland." Elfland is the land of the fairy tales and the nursery tales—and all those stories that the human race has made up, and he says something I think that applies to miracles. Miracles are not what we think they are. Apples are gold in Elfland only to refresh the forgotten moment when we first found that they were green. In Elfland the rivers run with wine, only to remind us for one wild moment that they run with water.
Creation is just as miraculous now as it was at the beginning, because redemption is present at every moment and every place throughout every part of creation. The creation and redemption are one act, not two. There is not one without the other, and it has never been otherwise from the very beginning. In the moment Adam and Eve eat of the fruit of the tree, they are redeemed. Not by that act but by him who made them. And therefore everything that happens after that is a proclamation of the gospel.
The angel with the flaming sword is a proclamation of the gospel because it says, look, in your shape I wouldn’t even think of letting you try to go back on your own. You cannot go back, you can only go forward into the mess you’ve made, but I will follow you every step of the way.
To go back to the analogy of the Bible as a movie, you see these events as a movie, and what do you think about? Well, at first it’s not clear, but you know it’s going somewhere. Then, once you see Christ on the cross and Christ risen and Paul writing about the mystery of Christ—wow! Now you know what’s been behind everything in the movie from the beginning.
That’s the reason why the greatest help in the interpretation of scripture is a concordance. And preachers are good to the extent that they have in their minds a concordance for the passages of scripture. And that’s how, for example, Augustine worked—he had it all in his head—all the scriptural references. You have to see the Bible as one complete story, with redemption in Christ as the underlying theme and plot, the whole point of the story from the first scene.
You know what’s fun? When you watch a movie, try to identify the Christ figure. I mean the figure who makes the plot work. It doesn’t even have to be a human character. It’s the one who does for the plot of that particular film what Jesus Christ does for the world. There’s a movie by Woody Allen called September. It’s about an extended family in a New England summerhouse—a wonderful luxurious summerhouse. It had been in the family for years and years.
Now, this is the most dysfunctional family you could possibly find anywhere. They’re all sniping and they’re falling apart and everything else. Since everyone is so rotten, where do you find the Christ figure? Well, what holds them all together? It’s the house. The house is the Christ figure in that movie. It was already in all their lives before the story began. It was part of their history. It was part of their formation. It was doing the work of Jesus in the terms of that story.