Tag Archives: materialism

Two Modern Mistakes About the Material World – and the Medieval Truth that can Save us from Them


I still think this is true.

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Gnostic or hedonist – it all amounts to devaluing Creation


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I think I’m well and truly into the Creation chapter of Getting Medieval with C S Lewis. Hoping to have it finished tonight or tomorrow. As with most of the other chapters, I’m starting with a framing of the modern problem(s) to which medieval faith suggests a solution. In this case, we’re looking at two sub-Christian attitudes to material stuff (including rocks, strawberries, gerbils, our human bodies, and all the ways we make culture in our social interactions). I don’t discuss the “medieval” solution yet – that will come in the next couple of posts.

Our issues: Gnosticism and materialism

Gnosticism

The early Christian Gnostics disavowed the spiritual significance and goodness of the material world: the world was created not by our God, who called his handiwork “good,” but rather by an inferior sub-god called a “demiurge.” Thus one must set aside the material world if one is to reach God. The world cannot be in any way a channel of Grace – it is rather an impediment to grace.

One online author who is convinced he sees Gnosticism all over the modern church suggests the following tests—a sort of “you might be a gnostic if . . .” The signs of gnostic thinking he identifies are (1) thinking Christianity is about “spiritual” things (only), (2) thinking of our destiny only in terms of our souls going off to heaven, (3) forgetting that “Christianity teaches the redemption of all creation (New Creation) and not evacuation from creation (‘the rapture’),” and (4) believing that God neither gives us material things as means of grace, nor indeed cares about the earth at all – and neither should we.

This syndrome of devaluing the material—sapping it of all spiritual significance—supports a number of modern Christian bad habits. One is the sort of “it’s all gonna burn” end-times scenario indulged in the Left Behind novels. Another is the excuse Baby Boomers (and others) make for the fact that their faith makes no difference in their daily life: “I’m ‘spiritual but not religious.’”[1] Continue reading

The distinctive Dantes of C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Dorothy L. Sayers


Here’s a rough introduction to next week’s contribution to Christianity Today‘s history blog. The rest of the article will touch on such works as Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia, Williams’s Figure of Beatrice, and Sayers’s translation of the Divine Comedy:

C. S. Lewis was a scholar and professor who became one of the premier lay theologians of the 20th century. He chose to communicate the truths of Christian faith both in essays and in fiction writing, with powerful effects that have resonated into the 21st century.

Lewis’s friend Charles Williams, arguably the linchpin of the “Inklings” literary circle to which Lewis, Tolkien, and others belonged, also wrote both essays and imaginative literature with a deeply Christian message.

Dorothy Sayers, detective novelist, playwright, and essayist, corresponded with both Lewis and Williams. And she developed her own deeply individual and powerful Christian apologetic, which she also expressed in both nonfiction and fiction.

These three “literary Brits” shared more than a lively Christian faith, the writing of imaginative literature, and a strong mutual regard. Together they launched a literary holy war on their era’s scientific materialism and the spiritual declension that accompanied it. Continue reading

An evangelical church in New York’s “Sodom”


This New York Magazine piece describes “the first significant new church to be built in Manhattan since St. Peter’s went up, more than 30 years ago, next to what used to be known as the Citigroup Center,” Tim Keller’s capacious (2,000 seats), conservative, and thriving Redeemer Presbyterian Church:

Thanks to Jay Blossom at InTrust magazine for posting this link via Facebook. What I find most interesting is the in-your-face anti-materialist, anti-worldly-success message Keller’s preaching . . . and how it’s actually drawing in thousands of stressed-out, “type A” Manhattanites.