January 23, 2012

The Resurrection and the Wardrobe - "There are only 3 possibilities."

"Logic!" said the Professor half to himself. "Why don't they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and until any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth."

Over the last couple of weeks my Sunday School teacher, Dave, has been talking about apologetics; specifically, evidence for the resurrection. This week's discussion focused on the five hundred+ people who saw Jesus following His resurrection, before His ascension.
Skeptics are willing to concede the fact that the disciples and others did have some kind of experience with someone they believed to be Jesus, after He had been killed. However, they don't consider the accounts to be accurate.
Dave pointed out that there are only three possibilities concerning the encounters people claimed to have had with Jesus after His death:

1. Everyone who claimed to have seen Jesus was lying.

2. Everyone who believed they had seen Jesus was either hallucinating or dreaming.

3. The people who said they had seen Jesus were telling the truth.

The notion that these people were all lying makes no sense. Look at the political scandals and cover-ups throughout history. There is always a leak somewhere. Humans are simply not good at keeping secrets under any circumstances - let alone when they're being hunted and tortured and killed as the early Christians were. If the encounters with Jesus were lies, someone would have spilled the beans.

The idea that all 500 people were hallucinating or dreaming also makes no sense. One night, a few years ago, my dad and I both dreamed that our great-aunt had passed away. It was kind of spooky, both of us dreaming the same thing on the same night. But, even though the basic dream was the same, the details were all different. And it was only two of us, not five hundred. No way are five hundred people all going to have the exact same dream or hallucination where all the details agree.

So logically, Dave concluded, we have to assume that the early Christians were telling the truth.

Hmm... I thought. I've heard that somewhere before!
While it's a well-known fact that C.S. Lewis was a theologian and apologist in addition to being a writer, we don't always notice how one bleeds into another. The Professor's conclusion that Lucy is telling the truth about finding a magical country inside a wardrobe is an essential part of the story, forcing Peter and Susan to consider for the first time the possibility of something they regarded as incredible. But it's also an example of great apologetics, a lesson to be learned.
Peter and Susan still weren't convinced by the irrefutable logic of the Professor's argument, and all the evidence and logic in the world isn't going to convince someone who isn't willing to accept the resurrection. That's the job of the Holy Spirit.
Aslan eventually convinced Peter and Susan by letting them through the wardrobe into Narnia. The Professor didn't have to convince them that it was real. He simply told them what he knew, and let Aslan do the rest. Our job isn't to convince an unbeliever, it's simply to tell them what we know and let the Holy Spirit show them the way through the wardrobe door, if they're willing to be shown.
For me, it's lessons like this - gems embedded so deeply into the story that they often go unnoticed - that set a truly great work of Christian fiction apart. For me, whose writing role model is C.S.Lewis, it's awesome to be able to see his beliefs and apologetics techniques at work even in his fiction, and it's my hope that my own writing will be influenced and sculpted by my faith in the way Lewis' was.
And the next time someone asks me how I know the resurrection really happened, I might just have to casually sit back and say "That is a point which certainly deserves considerations; very careful considerations..." (I wonder if I could pull it off without a British accent!)
Afterwards, I'll make myself a cup of tea and muse about "What do they teach them at these schools?"

What do you think sets a great work of fiction apart from the pack?
Do you have a writing role model?

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