Saturday, 14 June 2014

Clive, Dietrich and Crazy Karl

I'm not a fan of C.S. Lewis, though once, in another life, I read the entire Narnia series through appreciatively. But, well, The Screwtape Letters? Thanks but no thanks.

Frank Schaeffer, in an article that outs iconic German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer as "flamingly gay", takes a sideswipe at Lewis, calling him "an alcoholic high-church Anglican." Not a description that would much appeal to his latter-day aficionados. But there is one thing that does endear me to the old boy: his views on Karl Barth. Here's what he wrote to his brother in 1940.
Did you fondly believe – as I did – that where you got among Christians, there, at least, you would escape (as behind a wall from a keen wind) from the horrible ferocity and grimness of modern thought? Not a bit of it. I blundered into it all, imagining that I was the upholder of the old, stern doctrines against modern quasi-Christian slush: only to find that my 'sternness' was their 'slush'. They’ve all been reading a dreadful man called Karl Barth, who seems the right opposite number to Karl Marx. ‘Under judgment’ is their great expression. They all talk like Covenanters or Old Testament prophets. They don’t think human reason or human conscience of any value at all: they maintain, as stoutly as Calvin, that there’s no reason why God’s dealings should appear just (let alone, merciful) to us: and they maintain the doctrine that all our righteousness is filthy rags with a fierceness and sincerity which is like a blow in the face.
If Clive was here right now, I'd buy him a drink.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, and it seems that those "filthy rags" that is the worldly are the only thing that has ever done anything good in the world. Those "garments of righteousness" are definitely responsible for a lot of the evil in the world.