The Romantic Rationalist

Lewis There is no secret, if you know me, that I have a love for Lewis, C.S. Lewis. I was raised on the hills of Narnia and drunk from the shore of Cair Paravel through his books and they will forever hold a special place in my heart. The many places and tales C.S. Lewis wrote about kept me longing for more, more than here, more than this current plane of existence. It moved me to believe that this world is a half life, a whisper ghost of things to come. I can’t help but get a bit emotional when I speak of Mr. Lewis because of the great impact his writing has had on my life and the gentle prodding toward the Gospel in my early years.

I love C.S. Lewis for his fiction, the characters that feel like real people and friends, that I empathize and root for and many times grieve over. The multi-dimensional way that even the most un-human of them seem the most and best human, namely a little mouse called Reepicheep or how my heart burns bittersweet for Orual in Till We Have Faces. Even in their failings some of the most broken see truth and dragon scales fall off to true new life, Eustace discovered that and we all know how unpleasant he was to begin with.

I first loved Lewis for his fiction but I best loved him for his non-fiction. I will say that the influence of Mere Christianity is what soothed many doubts and indifferences to Christianity and the Church, it was a tool toward deepening faith in my life. His essays, books, his prodding us toward joy in suffering, his loving correspondence with children, the way he wrote about and sought truth, the way he spoke of and loved the wife of his late life, Joy Davidman, all of it made him my best-loved author. But this is not an essay about his influence on me this is a review of the book the Romantic Rationalist, edited by John Piper and David Mathis

First I will admit that a book about C.S. Lewis already has a plus in my mind but of course it could be a bad book about Lewis then that would definitely make me change it. This book, the Romantic Rationalist is a plus, plus, plus. The book is a compilation of well-written essays by very intelligent men about Lewis and his influence, his writings, his insight.

I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of knowledge that the essayists had about the writings of Lewis and their insights became valuable as I compared my own thoughts I’ve had over the years. C.S. Lewis was, in my mind, an great example of Matthew 22:34 in his life and through his writing.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” – Matt 22:34, ESV

I believe this is what the title of this book represents. Someone who sees the bigger picture of the Gospel practically but not only that loves with a sweet affection that big picture story and can express it with words that flow beautifully from deep love and a moved and forever changed soul. I believe that if you are a fan of C.S. Lewis and love theology you will love this book. My favorite Essays were Undragoned by Douglas Wilson, which may have convinced me that C.S. Lewis was an undercover Calvinist ( joking). By John Piper and by Randy Alcorn. All essays are a wonderful and I would love to have witnessed the panel discussion that occurs in the back of the book. So read this book and if you are only slightly familiar with Lewis you may also find a benefit here while you look into some of his deep thoughts. I dare to say it would help you embrace his writing more. So I recommend this book wholeheartedly and love it for what it says about Lewis and the connections it makes.

So for the Lewis fans and all, I’m including some of my favorite quotes from the book to sway you.

 

Quotes:

When Aslan is killed on the Stone Table, it is for one person—the traitor Edmund. The great lion gave his life for one grimy, little boy. Now it is true that Tirian in The Last Battle says that it was by Aslan’s blood that all Narnia was saved, but while glorious, this is an application, an extension, an afterthought. The nature of the lion’s death as told in the foundational story is seen as a very definite atonement. It really has to be—Lewis held to substitutionary atonement, and as Garry Williams has clearly shown in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, the two doctrines are logically intertwined. He who says A may not have said B, but give him time.
-Douglas Wilson, Undragoned

 

In Romans 8:28, Paul wrote, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” This verse tells us what we will one day see in retrospect. Lewis, in The Great Divorce, wrote that “both good and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective. . . . Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”13 The curse will be reversed. Lewis has Aslan explain the deeper magic the witch didn’t know about when he died for a sinner: “The Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”14 Retrospect enables us to see everything differently. It’s why we can call the worst day in all of history “Good Friday.” Faith is like a forward memory, allowing us to believe as if what is promised has already happened. One day we will see how Romans 8:28 was true all along, even in those moments we most doubted it. Joseph saw this in Genesis 50:20, the Romans 8:28 of the Old Testament: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Notice Joseph didn’t merely say, “God made the best of bad circumstances.”) -Randy Alcorn, C.S. Lewis on New Heaven and the New Earth

 

Lewis came to Christ on the converging paths of romanticism and rationalism. And as a Christian, he became a master thinker and master likener. This is who he was, and this is what he knew. And so this is how he did his evangelism. He bent every romantic effort and every rational effort to help people see what he had seen—the glory of Jesus Christ, the goal of all his longings, and the solid ground of all his thoughts. -John Piper, Romantic Rationalist

 

The sad truth is that many of us are, at best, only half awake. We think we’re engaged with the real world—you know, the world of stock markets, stock-car racing, and stockpiles of chemical weapons—but in fact we’re living in what Lewis calls the “shadowlands.” We think we’re awake, but we’re really only daydreaming. We’re sleepwalking our way through life—asleep at the wheel of existence—only semi-conscious of the eternal, those things that are truly solid that bear the weight of glory. We want to believe the Bible—we do believe it, we confess the truth of its teaching, and we’re prepared to defend it—but we nevertheless find ourselves unable to see our world in biblical terms, and that produces a feeling of disparity, an existential disconnect. If faith’s influence is waning, as two-thirds of Americans apparently now think, then it is largely because of a failure of the evangelical imagination. We’re suffering from imaginative malnutrition. -Kevin Vanhoozer, In Bright Shadow

 

You can purchase this book here: The Romantic Rationalist or from Crossway

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Crossway, my opinion is completely my own.


elliewithgirlsEllie Benson is Mother, Artist and Lover of Jesus. She blogs here at  ellieeugenia.com about faith, art and family and shares resources for all of those things. You can also find her at Charlotte Mason Living , a large growing online inspiration community for Charlotte Mason homeschooling families that she created.

Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing

I have been absent for awhile, absent although not absent in thought. The words have failed me. I couldn’t speak because I didn’t know how. You see this is a post about loss, specifically my recent loss, our recent loss, something so deep and painful for me that it would be easiest to lose the words forever and shut them up in my heart letting them wilt into nothingness, That is even more painful though, and pain is powerful but can be redeemed. But this is not really only a post about loss it is much more a post about Joy, Rejoicing. I will explain later.

Before I go any further please stop reading now if you will be uncomfortable with how real I am about to get with my account. I feel I cannot better explain except for truthfully and plainly. This is all part of my healing process as God pours grace and mercy on me. Additionally this is my pain, yours may be much greater in the scales of things that hurt, so know there is no comparison and I am not saying I understand all pain, nor do I even understand mine. This is just a story.

I am no good with dates, so some of these that I am throwing out are arbitrary. A few months ago as I started to feel the familiar queasiness and exhaustion I had a feeling that there was something happening, that familiar something that had happened twice before. We checked and positive was the answer. Mixed emotions of joy and worry ensued. Joy because a child is always a joyful occasion and worry because the “What are we going to do?”s start. We we’re happy, as happy as a couple could be as we started dreaming and planning. We we’re keeping it a secret for most until the time we felt was appropriate, it was still really early and we felt it was best. We still talked and dreamt about this little one forming and growing and starting making plans as we anticipated.

I was less than a week out from my first OB appointment because we could not calculate the date of conception correctly. I hadn’t even seen a doctor yet when scary things started happening. Over the weekend I started feeling very off, I felt off before any signs there was anything wrong happened. The feeling started on a Friday and mild spotting followed. Because spotting could be normal I tried to remind myself of this and just rest my mind. What started mild became much worse and alarming, enough to require an Emergency Room visit on Monday of the next week. There was nothing they could say, everything looked fine but my body said different. They told me it was “o.k.”. The ultrasound said I was still pregnant, they said I was fine but to go home and rest. They tried to assure me. I don’t know if it was that I knew different or that I couldn’t trust them in that situation, but I knew it felt like empty assurances. The next day I knew for certain, I cried and prayed for the bleeding to stop, for everything to go back to normal, rewind the last few days. It didn’t. I miscarried on Tuesday Morning. It was the worst and most painful experience and there is no point in sharing the minute details but know it was tramautic, emotionally and physically.

Not because I am super spiritual but there hangs a picture on our bathroom wall of a woman robed in white clinging to a rock amongst a lapping torrent of waves. The only thing I could think of was to stare at it and out of a need for comfort I started to sing Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee. I needed that rock for comfort in my time of need and sorrow.

So, on Tuesday Morning I knew and the Doctor confirmed it on Wednesday Morning. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, it still feels a little that way. The Doctor was telling me that it wasn’t my fault and there are the statistics and the good news was that it probably won’t happen again and I was screaming on the inside not knowing if I should sit and listen or run away and I was just trying to make it through the appointment, praying silently, without passing out.

Emotions are like a wave now, sometimes it hits me so hard I feel like I’ve been kneed in the chest and other times it’s a smaller ebb of pain intermingled with this growing peace. I prayed for peace and am still praying for peace, it comes, if you ask. It may take time for you to ask. It may take pain ebbs lessening, perhaps anger too, to learn to rejoice in the suffering and in your sorrow, but I am learning so much about the sweetness of God in even my sorrow. I need the reminders to myself.

Charles Spurgeon said “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” and isn’t that such a beautiful quote. I hold that quote very close to my heart because I feel a lifetime of dissapointment with people, with the world and as I struggle with depression and recent events I need that rock. This is not a post about a miscarriage or loss really or definitely not a request for pity. This a post about learning to kiss the waves, those hideous waves.  This is an encouragement. It is about being sorrowful, yes, sorrow is appropriate and needed for healing but in that sorrow there is a source for that can bring joy and rejoicing despite it. I am preaching this to myself.

That title Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing did not come from my own head, it comes from 2 Corinthians 6:10:

 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

This foreign notion that I could have sorrow and rejoice as well is not of the World. It is an otherworldly notion. It is a mark of a believer, joy.

C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven”

I have had to ask myself very recently, am I joyful person? I may look joyful on the surface, but am I truly joyful? The answer most times has been “No”. Truthfully, my human nature is one of a bitter, jealous and angry person. I am in need of that joy, desperately. Jesus is transforming me daily and I want to grasp and cling to that joy as slowly or as quickly, I pray, as it comes for me.

I am definitely not telling you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps, to just feel better, or that it’ll all work out or whatever bad advice you have been given. Well meaning people give a lot of bad advice. This is a hurting person saying that there is a source that can heal all wounds. There is a reason to rejoice in our suffering, believers.

There is a line in Rock of Ages that goes:

Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.

It may feel like tears will forever flow and I can’t tell you they won’t but we can learn from Christ and others that have gone before us to rejoice through our sorrow that there is nothing that this world can offer to heal my broken heart, to heal yours but there is one we can hide ourselves in, the Rock is cleaved for me, for you, for all that would plead for it. Thank God.

I am not trying to make anyone uncomfortable with this post but the fact of the matter that through this very personal suffering some things have become very clear to me about my personal faith and I can only respond to God’s grace with boldness. I can only want for you joy.  If you do not know the comfort of Christ in your situation and have long suffered or would like to know God, I want to pray with you, for you. Let us run to the throne and rejoice, the wonderful, frightfully beautiful throne of the Rock of Ages.

————————————————————————————————————

I am sharing the artwork I made for this post. I hope it can be a comfort, as well as this song by Liz Vice that has brought me much comfort recently. Also if you like big words like Christian Hedonism you can read more about Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing from people that know much more than I: The Ethos of Christian Hedonism; Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing-John Piper

SYAR print 4×6

SYAR print 8×10

Also, I hope you like the new look to the site, I worked on it to make it more clean, readable and fit my aesthetic. Hope you enjoy.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin