Yesterday, I watched a YouTube video of Ruslan, a Christian YouTuber, reacting to a video of pastor and author Francis Chan warning against the dangers of the modern “progressive Christianity” ideology that’s infiltrated 21st-century believers. I felt both jaded and intrigued by the vast, extensive amount of church history and theology that is/has been taught and passed down from generation to generation, and by just how much I don’t know of basic theology and church history (how the Scriptures came to be, what the church fathers and heroes of the faith believed about the Trinity, the Lord’s Supper—whether Jesus was bodily present in the bread and wine—and other matters of the faith).
A Desire to Learn
In the video, Ruslan said that there are Christians who “have no desire to read anything of the church fathers or church history; they only want to read the Bible” (I’m paraphrasing). I know many in my family and friend group like that. Their bookshelves are filled with Bibles, concordances, and what can only be described as “Christian self-help” books, but I digress. Ruslan also stated (or maybe it was Francis Chan) that “most Christians don’t read or haven’t read the Bible in its entirety.” I’m not gonna lie: I felt convicted when he said that. I’m grateful for the conviction; it birthed a desire to learn, to know more of church history and the doctrines of this evidential, proven faith that God, in His kindness, brought me—and so many others—to the actualization of. I have to agree with Ruslan and Francis. There’s something to be said of the church fathers and founders of the faith holding to an interpretation of Scripture, of the Trinity for 6,000 years and we, in this modern “progressive” era being brazen enough to think we know better, have studied more, are closer to God than the church fathers were; to think that our “new” way of interpreting Scripture is so much better, truer, more orthodox than 6,000 years of church and Christian history.
A Silent Prayer & A Literary Answer
Later that night, as I was getting ready for bed, contemplating the video and the words of both Ruslan and Chan, I prayed a silent prayer that was, essentially, “God help me learn more of You.” And as I contemplated if I really, truly understood the doctrine of the Trinity, such that I could adequately explain it to a middle-schooler, I drifted off to sleep.
Upon waking up this morning, one of my initial thoughts was “which book should I start, or continue, reading today?” as I’m currently in the midst of 2 or 3 books. My first thought was continuing with The Screwtape Letters but as I’ve decided to do a mini technology detox this week, save for work, I was wary about using my Kindle. I had a desire for underlining words in different colored pens and highlighters, writing notes in the margins, and sniffing book pages—can’t do that on my Kindle!—so I went to my bookshelf in the living room to search for the paperback version. My fingers locked onto another book by Lewis—Mere Christianity—the same time my eyes found the book I was actually looking for. Curiosity won. I had read snippets of Mere Christianity in the past but never cover to cover. I didn’t start at the beginning though. I thumbed through the Table of Contents until my eyes caught an intriguing title: THE THREE-PERSONAL GOD. “Could this be an answer to my prayer?” I silently wondered as I took the book into my room and settled under my weighted blanket. (Turns out, yes, yes it was!)
Lewis sets up his argument for the Trinity being a Three-Personal God by starting with a common example: many people, presuming to be unbelievers, stating, “I believe in a God, but not in a personal God” (pg. 125). There are people who are more interested in the mysterious, unknowable things of the world, an impersonal Being that just hovers overhead…just out of the reach of human knowledge; that is, an all-powerful Being that they will be absorbed into upon their death, but that’s not sustainable. To combat that formless ideology, Lewis says this:
“All the other people, though they say that God is beyond personality, really think of Him as something less than personal. If you are looking for something super-personal, something more than a person, then it is not a question of choosing between the Christian idea and the other idea. The Christian idea is the only one on the market.”Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg. 125
God, the Three-Personal God (I LOVE that description/identifier!), is so much more than a vague idea or mysterious, impersonal force. He is a personal Being. I love how Lewis uses squares, comparing them to dimensions, to explain the Trinity, 3-in-1 (see below).
|Dimension 1||Dimension 2||Dimension 3|
|A single straight line/ human level: one person (like one square is a figure)|
|A square/ human level: 2 separate people side by side|
|A cube (made of multiple squares)/ Divine level: the Trinity (a being who is Three Persons while remaining one Being)—just like a sugar cube!|
To further demonstrate the intricacies of the Trinity, Lewis writes:
“What I mean is this. An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get in touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God— that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying — the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on — the motive power. God is also the road or a bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The moon is being cut up into the higher kind of life… he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.”Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg. 127
Google “Fellowship of the Performing Arts.” They’ve produced “Screwtape Letters,” and “The Great Divorce” on stage, and they’re working on a 3-part movie series on C. S. Lewis’s life. I think it’s called “Further Up and Further In,” but don’t quote me on that.
LikeLiked by 1 person
There’s a theatrical production??!!!
See this is why I wish I had Lewis sooner! (I got introduced to him in adulthood.)
Yes, Rulonda. Convicting, thought provoking, and at times hilarious. Have you seen the theatrical production by the Fellowship of the Performing Arts?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Same! ❤️ Screwtape Letters (also reading) is so… provocative, thought-provoking, and (dare I say?) convicting! 😁
C. S. Lewis is one of my all-time favorites – Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, the Great Divorce … and the child in me will always be a citizen of Narnia. ❤️
LikeLiked by 1 person
Reblogged this on clydeherrin.