Thursday, 25 August 2011

Communicating not covering up, the Gospel

I have always been an advocate of doing all we can to communicate the Gospel as clearly as possible even if it means the risk of offending the traditionalists who are trying, at all costs, to preserve the faith, a bit like butterfly collectors who pin their specimens onto boards for display in glass cases. It was heartening therefore to read C.S.Lewis' reply to the translator and clergyman J.B.Phillips who had sent him a copy of some of earliest attempts. Here is part of that reply which underlines for me the need to avoid the sort of super-spiritual pomposity that puts preservation before propagation:

"Dear Mr Phillips, hank you a hundred times. I thought I knew Colossians pretty well but your paraphrase made it far more significant - it was like seeing a familiar picture after it's been cleaned....I hope very much you will carry on your plan doing all the epistles. Of course you'll be opposed tooth and nail by all the "cultured" asses who say you're spoiling "the beauty" of A.V. (King James)  - all the people who objected to Green Pastures and Man Born to be King and who are always waffling about reverence. But we must kill that! I hope you'll add a little plain preface - all popular theology, no gas about St. Paul's "personality" or the wild flowers of Palestine - and a really full analytical index. The index by itself will blow to bits all the modern exaggerations of the difference between Pauline and Johanine theology. Heartiest good wishes, yours sincerely C.S. Lewis. "

C.S. Lewis, as a master communicator, obviously recognised in Phillips a kindred spirit.

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