Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Eat the Meat & Spit Out the Bones


One of the things Christians are disagreed about is the importance of their disagreements. When two Christians of different denominations start arguing, it is usually not long before one asks whether such-and-such a point "really matters" and the other replies: "Matter? Why, it's absolutely essential." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity) 

Not long ago a Facebook friend was bemoaning the fact that so many evangelicals read C.S. Lewis. The horror! How could so-called “Bible-believing” Christians enjoy the ruminations of such an "arch-heretic"?  

The Roman Catholic, G.K. Chesterton (who influenced Lewis), was also anathematized. Even the relatively innocuous Ravi Zacharias—after his seemingly ill-advised “play-date” with Joyce Meyer—was given, shall we say, dishonorable mention.  

Below is the conversation which ensued upon my friend’s lamentations. My interlocutors’ words appear bold and italicized. May God add His blessing to your reading. 

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I love the writings of CS Lewis and have read him extensively. He in no sense harms my faith.  

And in the interest of full disclosure, I have read Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man," "Orthodoxy," and "What's Wrong With The World." Chesterton is indeed Roman Catholic and—dare I say—paradoxically he is also brilliant and witty.  

(If you’ve read Chesterton the term “paradoxically” will at the very least almost cause you to smile.) 

As with any non-inspired authors: Eat the meat and spit out the bones. 

“‘Eat the meat and spit out the bones,’ is a dangerous phrase. I have had that phrase used to defend heretics and deceivers for years. ‘Let this Roman Catholic Priest speak at our school . . . Let this Word of Faith heretic teach our College Youth about the Faith! Eat the meat and spit out the bones!’”  

It's not at all “dangerous.” How can you not be discerning when reading non-inspired authors? How can you simply read them and not biblically assess them? 

“Eat the meat and spit out the bones” does not defend heresy. Quite the opposite.
 
And I'm not talking about inviting “heretics” to speak anywhere. I'm talking about personal reading. When I read non-inspired authors, I eat the meat and spit out the bones. 

I suggest you do the same. 

“I like the biblical adage: ‘A little leaven leavens the whole lump.’ I personally, would not want to read from heretics, when there are so many sound theologians to learn from. It's a mistake to believe that one can be so "discerning" about theology as to confidently consume a bit of heresy here and there without being affected. And there is no picking the leaven from the lump.” 

Since you personally do not desire to read “heretics,” I would never suggest that you do otherwise. 

That being said, I don't believe Paul's analogy of “a little leaven” is properly applicable to personal reading. (1 Cor. 5 has to do with church discipline.) 

I read mostly Reformed authors. However, I also read non-Reformed authors and even non-Christians. Examples of such readings, so far this year, range from news stories and/or blogs (I try to stay abreast of current events!) to terrific books dealing with philosophies of science, politics, economics, and culture in general (from Pat Buchanan to Thomas DiLorenzo, F.A. Hayek to Thomas Sowell, Charles Darwin to Hugh Ross, Neil Postman to Vox Day, et. al.). 

Naturally, all non-inspired authors’ works need to be interpreted through a biblical lens, processed through a Christian worldview, and digested with discernment. 

Nevertheless, I do not denigrate people who read only those they deem to be “sound theologians.” In fact, I know a few folks who refuse to read anything but the Bible (and ironically, I question their theology!). 

I suppose when it comes to meats for the belly and meats for the mind, it's best to follow this admonition: "Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom 14:22b-23).

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