Lent 4 Year B

Preaching the Adventure of Passion, by Robert Saler


I have been teaching a course this semester at my school, Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, on C.S. Lewis and the intellectual environment in which his theology took shape. One of the more striking features of Lewis’ work—and that of his close friend and collaborator, J.R.R. Tolkien—is the pervasiveness of the theme of adventure and genuine bodily/existential peril involved in their depictions of the struggle between good and evil. A key motivation behind the theological mytho-poetics of their fantasy texts is to depict, in resonant narrative fashion, what it would mean for Christians to live as if the drama of following Christ’s self-sacrificial love for God’s world truly were a struggle that requires courage, the fortitude of faith, and character formation—all because something truly is at stake.

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Just as the physical image of a snake was a focus for the Israelites’ longing and faith for healing (Numbers 21:4-9) so the physical Cross of Christ ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh’ is the means of our salvation (John 3:14-21). An ethereal, over-spiritualised religion is the enemy of creation care; a true faith is rooted in God’s creation as well as his redemption.