Wednesday, March 07, 2007

C.S. Lewis – Fern Seed and Elephants

C.S. Lewis, the famous Christian apologist and expert in English literature, wrote an essay about Biblical criticism called Fern Seed and Elephants. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it already. Here are some highlights.

This then is my first bleat. These men ask me to believe they can read between the lines of the old texts; the evidence is their obvious inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines themselves. They claim to see fern-seed and can't see an elephant ten yards away in broad daylight.

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All theology of the liberal type involves at some point – and often involves throughout – the claim that the real behaviour and teaching of Christ came very rapidly to be misunderstood and misrepresented by his followers, and has only been recovered or exhumed only by modern scholars.

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My impression is that in the whole of my experience, not one of these guesses [of reviews trying to reconstruct how he wrote things] has on any point been right; that the method shows a record of one hundred per cent failure. You would expect by mere chance they would hit as often as they miss. But it is my impression that they do no such thing. I can't remember a single hit.

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They assume that you wrote a story as they would try to write a story; the fact that they would so try explains why they have not produced any stories.

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You cannot know that everything in the representation of a thing is symbolical unless you have independent access to the thing and can compare it with the representation.

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