Sunday, January 11, 2009

To Lucy Barfield


I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be
your affectionate Godfather,

The above is the dedication from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It really got me thinking about my own interest in literature. I have become old enough that I enjoy reading fairy tales again.

It also got me thinking about Biblical literature. As a child, like most children, it was the Bible stories I enjoyed the most. As I grew, my interests started to change. In the fourth grade I remember being fascinated with the Apocalypse. I would just read it over and over again. I had no idea what it was talking about but the incomprehensibility fascinated me. As I struggled with depression in high school I became addicted to the Book of Ecclesiastes. I don't think I understood the book at all then but it was interesting to read the experiences of someone who also saw the futility of life. After I got married I became more and more interested in theology and wanted to read nothing but the letters of Paul. I wanted to construct a mental system in which everything fit together in a nice package. The Gospels were nice but I already knew them. Jesus died on a cross--everybody knows that. Why did I need to read it again?

Now, I'm sort of back where I started. I love the stories. I love the Gospels especially. I'm a little disappointed when I face long stretches in my Bible reading plan that take me away from the Gospel readings. The stories are simple enough for a child to understand and yet deep enough to explore for more than a lifetime and they do the most important thing. They tell us what the Lamb did! They're not just some abstract system--they tell us who the Lamb is.

The church is much older than me and smarter than me and figured this all out a long time before I did. They placed the Gospels first in the canonical order and have used chanting and singing and posture to draw attention to the Gospel reading during the service. The Gospels are the lens through which all of Scripture must be viewed. We must not switch the order. They provide the foundation for the rest of the New Testament. The Epistles can in many ways be viewed as a commentary on the Gospels.

The divisions that exist within Christendom have a plethora of causes but I think one of them is not reading the Scriptures properly as a historic Christian and confusing the order of the books.

Praise be to the Lamb who is the Gospel made flesh! Praise be to the Lamb who wrote the story and is the story!

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