I’m now in the process of re-reading “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, and the painful “un-dragoning” of Eustice. This immediately brought to mind the painful conversion of Edmund, which he actually recalls in his conversation with the un-dragoned Eustice. It also brought to mind the painful conversion of the Ghost in “The Great Divorce” who was the only Ghost to submit to the necessary pain of conversion. He has the lizard of lust sitting on his shoulder, which the Angel offers to kill. The Ghost is afraid that if the Angel kills the lizard, he (the Ghost) will also die with it. But the Ghost finally submits, and when the lizard is “killed”, it turns into a great stallion, “silvery white, but with mane and tail of gold”, symbolizing the proper expression of Eros, as I think Lewis would call it in “The Four Loves”, or as George MacDonald says to Lewis in “The Great Divorce” – “that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed”.
And the topic of conversion also brings to mind, of course, the greatest story of conversion in Scripture: the conversion of Saul, which began on the road to Damascus and ended three days later when, as it says in Acts 9, 18: “something like scales fell from his eyes”, like the dragon scales that fell from Eustice when Aslan tore them from him.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)
Yes, Lewis had a clear picture of what conversion entails. On the one hand, I believe Protestantism has it right in saying that faith alone saves (when coupled with Luther’s, and Calvin’s, and others’ admonition that faith that saves is never alone)–but coming to that faith is no light or easy thing. When Lewis writes in The Problem of Pain that we are rebels who must lay down our arms, it’s parallel, not only to Edmund and Eustace, but also to the natural state of man as described in Romans 1. And, of course, his description of his own conversion wasn’t an easy thing.
We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved: we are, as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms. The first answer, then, to the question why our cure should be painful, is that to render back the will which we have so long claimed for our own, is in itself, wherever and however it is done, a grievous pain. . . . But to surrender a self-will inflamed and swollen with years of usurpation is a kind of death.
Problem of Pain, pp. 88-89 in my copy–Ch. 6, para. 3.
Dan, what does “faith that saves is never alone” mean?
It’s the harmonization of Ephesians 2 and James 2 (among other passages on both sides). Ephesians 2 (specifically, 2:8-9) teaches that we’re saved by grace through faith, and that (all of it–the grace, the faith, the salvation) is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of our works lest anyone boast. Evangelicals often miss Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
James 2 (specifically, 2:14-26) teaches that faith without works is dead, and that a dead faith cannot save. But isn’t our works that save; we’re explicitly told that that isn’t the case. So we harmonize those by saying that we’re saved by faith alone, but a living, saving faith will invariably result in good works.
Not to speak for Dan, but Someone Else said that a fig tree that is healthy produces fruit.
That’s a simple truth and easy to understand, but it may not resolve all possible theological arguments that could arise.
One could say that if there is healthy fruit on the fig tree, it is both futile and unhelpful to try to otherwise decide if the fig tree is healthy.
And healthy fruit should not be defined as the fig tree answering theological test questions correctly.
Lord High Heretic of SpareOom
Ensconced recently and firmly in his new digs, named Oasis, and not uprooted — even though said digs were in the eye wall winds of Cat 5 Ian as it came ashore in Englewood — and who finished moving in a mere 48 hours before impact!