Monday, August 23, 2010

"The Apologists’ Evening Prayer" by C.S. Lewis

I am personally not a huge “drop everything” fan of C.S. Lewis, but I do appreciate many of his contributions. This sonnet goes nearly unnoticed and unmentioned of his writings:

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
at which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle's eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

Lewis’ transparency is staggering, for here he presents to the world the weakness of his argument: himself. Recall that apologetics is defending the faith, and here C.S. Lewis confesses that every flaw in speaking on behalf of The Almighty lies with himself. Winning an argument for the sake of proving a point is not the purpose of apologetics. Winning is lame, victory is a mere mark on the scorecard and the all witty cleverness that brought the house down makes angels weep.

Our actions speak louder than our words, so having the best intellectual argument means nothing when our lives do not follow suit. What Lewis is asking is for deliverance from himself, for sin clouds the clarity of God’s purity.

Lewis says “thoughts are but coins.” A thought is a self-contained mental form. I believe Lewis has in mind the minting process by which a coin is made, where an image is stamped on a lifeless thing. He asks for God to let him trust in the very person of He Who Is True and Living instead of an idea that easily becomes thin and worn.

A thought, like a coin, can be a throw away thing that covers well-bottoms.
A thought, like a coin, secures the purchase of an item meets our needs/wants at our command.

We do not put our faith in a representation—this is idolatry--and a god kept in a comfortable image is mockery. Lewis asks to be freed from his thoughts, which become improper when the thought itself is substituted for The Person.

The Apologist needs no other argument, no other plea. He needs The One who is Enough, “and that He died for me.”

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