Sunday, January 13, 2008

He Will Not Be Pinned Down

We may observe that the teaching of Our Lord Himself, in which there is no imperfection, is not given us in that cut-and-dried, fool-proof, systematic fashion we might have expected or desired. He wrote no book. We have only reported sayings, most of them uttered in answer to questions, shaped in some degree by their context. And when we have collected them all we cannot reduce them to a system. He preaches but He does not lecture. He uses paradox, proverb, exaggeration, parable, irony; even (I mean no irreverence) the "wisecrack". He utters maxims which, like popular proverbs, if rigorously taken, may seem to contradict one another. His teaching therefore cannot be grasped by the intellect alone, cannot be "got up" as if it were a "subject". If we try to do that with it, we shall find Him the most elusive of teachers. He hardly ever gave a straight answer to a a straight question. He will not be, in the way we want, "pinned down". The attempt is (again, I mean no irreverence) like trying to bottle a sunbeam.

Yes, it is, perhaps, idle to speak here of spirit and letter. There is almost no "letter" in the words of Jesus. Taken by a literalist, He will always prove the most elusive of teachers. Systems cannot keep up with that darting illumination. No net less wide than a man's whole heart, nor less fine of mesh than love, will hold the sacred Fish.

~C.S. Lewis,
Reflections on the Psalms, Chapter XI "Scripture" (1958)

3 Comment(s):

At Sun Jan 13, 04:05:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I *have* posted that last paragraph before, but I really like it. :)

At Mon Jan 14, 03:58:00 PM EST, Blogger Martin LaBar said...

I like it too.

"No net . . ." is a great sentence.

At Tue Jan 15, 12:05:00 AM EST, Blogger Joelle said...

That is a great bit.


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