C.S. Lewis and the Trouble with Truth
Working as an editor can be stressful. There are always deadlines to meet, new information to process, and people to interview, it’s all very demanding. As a result, there has been more than one occasion when I’ve put my foot in my mouth, so to speak. Maybe I submitted an article full of bad grammar, maybe I typed in the wrong author, maybe one of my co-workers enjoys pointing out that I often misspell “culture” as “cutlur”, the point is, mistakes happen. Typically, these problems can be remedied with a little help and no trouble, but one must always guard against their own errors.
This was the theme of a recent Patheos blog concerning the life of C.S. Lewis. The author of the article, George Conger, hoped to draw attention to inaccurate information published by the Religion News Service. Aside from writing that Lewis had been close friends with G.K. Chesterton and published a book in the wrong year, the article also made the mistaken claim that Lewis had been influenced by the occult. Conger politely called for some fact-checking,
While Lewis, like his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkein, was devoted to the Norse sagas and mythology, he was not an occultist. While some Christian groups have denounced Lewis’ work, saying it glorifies witchcraft and magic, the only evidence of a personal interest in magic comes in this passage in Surprised by Joy where he recounts how a matron at his prep school dabbled in the occult.
While we could chalk these mistakes up to an over-worked, under-paid, editor trying to meet his deadlines (*cough*), I think this article touches on some interesting ideas concerning truth. Christians often encourage one another to “speak the truth with love”, but I don’t think we understand why it’s necessary to speak the truth. Here’s a hint, it’s not to prove we’re smarter than everyone else. It’s because truth is important. Truth builds understanding, it creates knowledge, and brings freedom.
Misunderstanding and misinformation creates conflict, which is perhaps one reason why the Church’s image has changed so radically over the past couple of years. Many Christians are struggling with the concepts of speaking truth and showing tolerance. The popular belief being that tolerance usually equals love, but an old blog by writers Kelly Givens and Melissa Krueger wonders otherwise,
“[H]ave you ever considered that tolerance is never encouraged in the Bible? The fruit of the Spirit includes love and kindness, but missing from the list is tolerance. In fact, Christians aren't called to tolerance, because we serve an intolerant God.”
Christians must build their lives on a foundation of truth, this is something God demands of us. By asking tough questions with no easy answers, and learning to struggle with doubt, we learn to see God places we never expected. Do not be afraid to search for truth, and let your faith expand.
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com