Liar, Lunatic or Truth

A while back, I began reading CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series, beginning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe thinking that I’d do some writing about what I found as it related to Christianity.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe takes place in England during the Second World War, specifically during the Blitz. The main human characters are four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy- they’ve been sent to the house of an old Professor “in the heart of the country” to escape the air raids. One of the objects in the house is an old wardrobe, which sometimes leads to another land, called Narnia. One day while playing hide-and-seek, the youngest, Lucy, hides in the wardrobe and discovers Narnia. She has an adventure or two, then returns with seemingly no time “used up” back in England. She tells her siblings, who inspect the wardrobe to find…no Narnia. In chapter 5, the eldest children (Peter and Susan) decide to tell the professor the story. After listening, he asks them how they know that the story is not true.

Lucy, it turns out, is not typically a liar, which then takes them logically that Lucy is “mad”. The professor denies that she is “mad” and then…

“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

This is clearly a reference to what is known as Lewis’ trilemma. In his book Mere Christianity, Lewis writes,

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

What then are we to do with the fact that Narnia is not “always present” and the time difference between the two worlds?

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What Does Jesus Do?

This morning during our family devotional time we read the book of Jude from the New Testament. Through much of this short book, just 25 verses long, Jude speaks about the danger of false teachers. He tells his reader/s:

…defend the faith with God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives…these people–who claim authority from their dreams–live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings…When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots. They are like wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their shameful deeds. They are like wandering stars, doomed forever to blackest darkness…These people are gumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.


I looked at it again when I got to the office in my new Jesus-Centered Bible. One of my favorite features is the inclusion of Rick Lawrence​’s Jesus-Centered Questions– a nifty little resource that I won at a Group student ministry event many years ago. Here’s the question for this text–

2015-10-06 09.40.09“How does Jesus respond to ‘scoffers’– people ‘whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires’?”

  1. He predicted them- the faithful will be expelled from synagogues, even hunted down and murdered (see Saul/Paul). He did this so that the faithful would not be surprised (John 16:1-4).
  2. He told the truth about them- these “scoffers” act like unbelievers because they are unbelievers (John 8:47; John 10:26). To be direct- false teachers are NOT Christians.
  3. He prayed for them- when He said, from the cross, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) he was living out his command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mark 5:44).

Jude, in his letter, gives this instruction to those who are dealing with false teachers:

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s live. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

Expect scoffers. Be truthful about who they are. Pray for them. Take your responsibility seriously as a true believer- building up others, praying in the power of the Holy Spirit (not just self), wait for God’s mercy, show it by rescuing people from the judgment sure to come.

This is the way of Jesus.

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Discipleship and Drones

I listened to a fascinating podcast this morning from FiveThirtyEight about the American military, its usage of drones and the sheer amount of data taken in by those drones. The podcast is an interview with William Arkin, the author of “Unmanned: Drones, Data, and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare“.

The premise is that when decisions are made based only on information, there is no longer a strategic context or purpose driving those choices- the “how?” and “why?”  of the deployment of power is minimalized.

What’s more, the Just War concept is discussed; the context of which is that Just War always allows for the creation (or re-creation) of a “better” culture and society post-war (was was done after the defeat of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany using the Marshal Plan). Even though we fought “total war”- we still fought with the mindset that there would be a rebuilding- there was indeed, an “end” to the “means”.

As I reflect upon this, I wonder how many churches simply act on information in the moment (and see an immediate tangible result like a new member or baptism or an increase in attendance) rather than actually create a long-term sustainable strategy that will yield fruit for years to come. To use the words from the podcast, is it possible that the church has become “all targeting, no strategy”? And to paraphrase them,

“We’ve become so good at this kind of targeted “discipleship”, and the “programming” (has) become so precise, that we mistake our ability to find “people” and “disciple” them with an actual “discipleship”  strategy.”

Check it out…

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Thoughts on Narnia, Intro

When I was young, I had a few favorite books; The Hardy Boys series, Charles Berlitz’s The Bermuda Triangle, Z for Zachariah (movie adaptation released this weekend) and CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

I remember writing a paper during my senior year of high school on the analogies between CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and the Bible. I’ve only read a few other things by Lewis- The Screwtape Letters, Perelandra, and just in the past few months, Mere Christianity.

Based on a quote I recently found from The Silver Chair (book 4 in the series) I decided to re-read them- to enjoy, to study and to see how Lewis wove his theology of Jesus into the text. I’ll post some thoughts about this over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

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Belief and Obedience

If you “believe” in Jesus, you’ve been born of God; it’s a package deal. If you love the Father, you love the Son. And “love” is defined by “obedience” (I’ve said that before). You obey His commands if you really love him. And what’s more, these commands are not burdensome. It is not difficult to obey God, it’s not impossible. Why? Because those born of Jesus are overcomers of the world along with him. You are an overcomer every time you find victory in God. The real overcomers are the ones who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Jesus came by both water and blood- both of these are necessary. And, the Spirit verifies this, demonstrating true accountability. To the water and blood we add Spirit and these all agree that Jesus is of God. While we can accept the testimony of man, God’s testimony is greater because of who He is and what He has said. If you believe in Jesus, you’ll find that your heart confirms this, and those who deny the WHO of Jesus accuse God of lying. Here is God’s testimony: He, God, has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son, Jesus. Those who have the Son have life, those who do not have the son do not have life.

I’m telling you all of this that you know how to have eternal life. We can confidently approach God and ask Him for all things according to his will. We’ll know that he hears when we receive what we ask for.

We will see our brothers committing sins, some of those sins lead to death, while others do not. We are to pray for him and God will give him life. For other sins, don’t just pray. While all things wrong are indeed sin, all sins do not lead to death.

Those who belong to God do not continue in sins because those born of him are safe from the evil one.

We belong to God, and the world to Satan.

We know that Jesus has come and teaches up all things- his teachings are true.

Because His teachings are true, those who adhere to them also become true. Jesus is the true God and eternal life.

Do not worship idols!

Adapted from 1 John 5.

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Love and Obedience, continued

John refers to his readers as “friends” and “children” multiple times throughout 1 John. He is clearly a man in deep relationship and uses these words to remind them of this because the things that he is saying appear to be strong; without the context of relationship there is the temptation to ignore what he is saying. In essence, John is telling his readers:

  • test every spirit to know whether or not they are from God. Why? False teachers are EVERYWHERE and are bent on deception
  • those that acknowledge that Jesus is of God are the true spirits. And by acknowledge, John means a life changed.
  • we can know that we are “of God” by our response to that message. Are our lives changed? If so, we are His. If not, we are not His.
  • the proof of being His is that we love one another because love is from God. John repeats this phrase numerous times throughout 1 John; this is his theme.
  • love is defined as the sacrifice of Jesus. With that love as our model, when we sacrifice ourselves for others in love, then, and only then, are we truly loving.
  • the love that was planted in us (1 John 3:9) by God  grows and is made complete when our love for others mirrors Christ’s love for us
  • because of His love for us, and our love for others, we can be confident on the day of judgment because this love gives life
  • you cannot “love God” but hate your brother.
  • truly loving God will lead to true love of, and for, your brother.

From 1 John 4.

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Love and Obedience

“How can we know?” That’s often the question we ask. We want to belong to God, but our human understanding falls short; we get anxious, worrying about if we are really “in”. We do not have to worry; God has provided us a tool to discern- His Word. It’s truth is “sharp enough to cut right through us, deeply to the core.” What we can do is use this tool, interact with it, understand how it functions, and finally, allow it to dissect us. Here’s how John describes it in 1 John 3–

We get to be God’s children- that’s how amazing his love is. And this new identity causes us to not be known by the world. We don’t know everything, and we won’t have to, but when He comes back we’ll be just like him. It’s for this reason that we ought to purify ourselves. We desire to stop sinning. Why?

Sin = breaking the law. And when we break the law, we seek to become a law until ourselves. God came to take away our sin because he has no sin. When we identify with Him as his children, we do not, we cannot continue to be lawbreakers. If we do, it’s as though we’ve never seen Him or known him.

Don’t allow yourselves to be led astray, be righteous as God is righteous. Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil who had been doing evil since the beginning.

Those who are borne of God cease sinning because his seed is planted within and it grows and grows and grows. As it grows, the sinful nature goes away, pushed out from the inside to the fringes. This is how we know who God’s children are: the way that we love.

Love others; it’s the message from the beginning. Cain failed this test when he murdered his brother. Cain murdered Abel because Abel’s actions honored God and Cain hated him for it. In the same way, those who love God will truly be hated by the world. Do not be surprised by this. We who love our brothers are truly alive; those who hate are truly dead. And those who hate stand with Cain- guilty of murder, and without eternal life.

But, what is love? Real love? When Jesus laid down his life for the murderer, this was and is love. And we are that murderer. And now, we mimic him and lay down our lives for others. How?

  • having material possessions and using those possessions to have pity on those who have none and helping them
  • not mere words or tongue, but in actions and truth

These things: meeting needs, actions, truth…are how we know who belongs. They allow us to rest our hearts, find peace and still our souls. In and through them, God quiets our stirring spirits and questioning hearts because he is greater than them. He knows us fully.

How can we know we are His?

  • our hearts are quiet and still; this shows that the seed is spreading from within- our heart leaves us alone
  • we receive what we ask for because we obey him and do what pleases him

Those who obey  live in Him and he in them. We are alive by the Spirit he gives.

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