3 Reasons We Should Read C. S. Lewis’ Pre-Conversion Poems

In 1919—only a year after World War I—a young atheist named Clive Hamilton published a collection of poems about the material world, the problem of evil, and a longing for who-knows-what. Today, you know Clive Hamilton as C. S. Lewis, and Spirits in Bondage, Lewis’ first published work, gives us a glimpse into the depths of his pre-conversion state.

Maybe you’d ask, “Why would I read C. S. Lewis’ writings from before he became a Christian?” It’s a question I’ve asked too, and here’s what convinced me: [Read more…]

Logos Tech Tip: How to Fact-Check Online Quotes Fast

How many memes have you seen that claim to be quotes from significant voices?

C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton seem to get lots of citations, and the appeal is obvious. They’re widely admired, wrote on many different subjects, and weren’t confined by genre (and it doesn’t hurt that they can’t correct anyone). But did they actually write what the memes attribute to them? [Read more…]

4 Views of the End Times—and What They Have in Common

This excerpt about the end times is adapted from Jesus Wins by Dayton Hartman. [Read more…]

3 Days, 21 Libraries, Thousands of Books

The Logos library expansion sale is a scholar’s dream, and it ends in three days.

It features 21 library expansions of four sizes each, so you can find just the right addition to your own library. [Read more…]

Pastor as Spiritual Fitness Trainer—Preparing People for Daily Discernment

By Kevin Vanhoozer

The church is the body of Christ, and its core—the community of disciples, the faith corps—enables its characteristic bodily movements: witnessing to the gospel, worshiping the God of the gospel, maintaining the health of the body, performing works of love.

To perform these movements, and to have the strength to work and keep on moving, the church needs to attend to its core. In a word, the church needs theological exercises: training in godliness.

Spiritual fitness training

I describe the pastor-theologian in various ways, but here the metaphor I want to develop is that of a spiritual fitness trainer. To make disciples is to train men and women to perform the characteristic bodily movements that enable the local church to perform its roles as an embassy of the kingdom of God, a Christ corps.

To make or train disciples fit for purpose involves certain kinds of exercise. I have in mind not simply bodily exertions for the sake of physical fitness, but all sorts of actions intended to improve a specific skill, like finger exercises for the piano, a military exercise, and exercises at the end of every textbook chapter. [One essential skill] is reading Scripture theologically in order to take every thought, and imagination, captive to Christ in order to walk the Way of Christ and become more Christlike.

Spiritual exercises

Seeing the Christian life as a series of exercises is, of course, nothing new. The most famous example is the sixteenth-century classic Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius of Loyola, a collection of prayers and meditations on what it means to live in relationship to God as a follower of Jesus.

The exercises are not bodily but interior: they are designed to strengthen not muscle but the heart, what the apostle Paul calls our “inner being” (Rom 7:22; Eph 3:16). They are recommendations for maintaining and improving the health of one’s soul: “We call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and . . . of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life.”1 The ultimate aim: to orient the heart to God, and to find God in all things.

Reality—the world we live in, the only world there is, the world created by God—always and everywhere presents everyone with a choice, an unavoidable “either-or”: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh 24:15)

Discernment and decision

An important part of the exercises is learning to discern one’s own “spirit,” that is, the inner motivation for our actions. Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Roman Catholic theologian, believes that this emphasis on choice lies at the center of the Ignatian exercises: they’re all about helping persons to discern the heart of God, and the orientation of their own hearts, so that they choose God’s choice for them in joyful obedience.2

C.S. Lewis, though no Ignatian, had a similar concern for the centrality of “the choice” in the life of the disciple, as Joe Rigney explains: “Every moment of every day, you are confronted with a choice—either place God at the center of your life, or place something else there.”3

Reality—the world we live in, the only world there is, the world created by God—always and everywhere presents everyone with a choice, an unavoidable “either-or”: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh 24:15), either the one true God (the Father of Jesus Christ) or some false god, be it money, sex, fame, power, or something else—their name is Legion.

Discipleship involves waking up to the realization that there is a choice, and we must stay awake to the lordship of Jesus Christ long enough to make the right one: to obey, and thereby to exercise, like Jesus, genuine freedom.4

***

Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD, Cambridge University) is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine and Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity, both Christianity Today Theology Books of the Year (2015, 2017). He is married and has two daughters.

This post is excerpted from Dr. Vanhoozer’s new book, Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine, now available from Lexham Press. See the table of contents and preview pages. This post’s title and headings are the addition of an editor.

 

3 Sanity Checks for Odd Bible Interpretations

I was just having lunch with some pastors, and we were having a friendly disagreement over exegesis. One experienced expositor said, “The Holy Spirit chose precisely this word and not another, so it must have special significance.” I said, “Yes, but we can’t overinterpret: Greek is a human language; it’s not some perfectly precise mathematics problem.” [Read more…]

Dull Dogma? Dorothy Sayers on the Drama of the Creeds.

“The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama.”

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we bring you an exceptional piece of theology from renowned translator, novelist, and Christian thinker Dorothy Sayers. Sayers was also a friend of C.S. Lewis. [Read more…]

Reading Lewis Deeply with the C.S. Lewis Logos Courses Tool

C.S. Lewis Logos Courses

It’s been said of C.S. Lewis that talking to him and reading his writings were remarkably similar experiences. When he spoke on topics he’d written on, he was so enthusiastic you’d think he was discovering them for the first time.

The C.S. Lewis Logos courses invite us to interact with this man by reading his words, and, in a sense, conversing with him. [Read more…]

How to Enhance Personal Books in Logos (Give it a Go)

Personal Books in Logos

Guest writer Adam B. Shaeffer holds an MA in Spiritual Formation from Talbot School of Theology and a PhD in Theology from Durham University. He is already a big fan of Logos 8.

In my previous post, I discussed C.S. Lewis’ introduction to a translation of St. Athanasius’ The Incarnation of the Word of God. If you’ve read his introduction, and if you’re like me, you want to read the version he introduced. Unfortunately for us, that version isn’t yet available in Logos and isn’t in the public domain. [Read more…]

Reading Plans: Read Some Old Books in 2019

Reading Plans in LogosGuest writer Adam B. Shaeffer holds an MA in Spiritual Formation from Talbot School of Theology and a PhD in Theology from Durham University. He is already a big fan of Logos 8.

In my previous posts, I’ve highlighted some of the new features in Logos, but in this post, let me turn to an oldie but goodie: Reading Plans.

As I’ve already made clear in another post, I love C.S. Lewis. His imagination and clarity have been gifts to me through the years. It’s fair to say that he has shaped my thinking in some significant ways, and one of those is in his insistence on the value—no, the necessity—of reading old books. [Read more…]