Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scrutinizing Two Literary Giants: Lewis and Tolkien [Updated]

Over the course of my Christian walk, I have been lead astray by many well-meaning Christians, especially in the homeschool world.  As I ventured out into unknown waters back in 2003, my head went under many times.  The goal was to educate our three boys at home using a classical Christian approach.  At that time, I was not a mature Christian, and I was not well-educated despite my college degree.  Looking back, I can see where the ecumenism of the evangelical world today had already taken hold in the homeschool scene.

Historically, Protestantism was birthed out of the Reformation in the 16th century.  The Roman Catholic Church was deemed heretical with its icons, belief in transubstantiation, works-based salvation, and worship of Mary and the saints.  But unbeknownst to me in 1994 (the same year that God saved me), the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document was signed, which called for a need to deliver a common witness to the modern world.  Even though Catholic beliefs and practices had not changed since the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church was now considered an alternative community of worship for Christians, even though it still does not worship the same Jesus as orthodox Christianity.  As the evangelical world embraced Catholicism, the rise of the Christian homeschool movement allowed the scholarship and literary talent of Anglican C.S. Lewis and Roman Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien to supersede their theological beliefs.

Quite honestly, I had never read anything by Lewis or Tolkien prior to my introduction to them in 2004.  As I was trying to accumulate our curricula, the homeschool world was lit up with books and curriculum for both The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings series.  I never even considered that these books were not Christian because everyone knew that they were filled with Christian allegories and allusions.  Many of my on-line and local homeschool friends were reading and discussing both series, and I did the same.  In 2009, I embraced the reformed faith, and since that time I've slowly moved away from Lewis and Tolkien; however, with the entertainment value in the movie sector, it's been more difficult to exclude them from our family life and Christian fellowship.

I would never recommend that any Christian read Lewis or Tolkien*; and if I could start over, I would not include Lewis or Tolkien in our homeschool.  I know that's borderline blasphemy for some, so I've decided to do a blog series on Lewis (Part I) and Tolkien (Part I) to show why these authors should not be read by Bible-believing Christians.

Thankfully, my family never read the Harry Potter series or saw the movies.  Ironically, the same reasons that I initially rejected J.K. Rowling from our Christian home are very similar to the reasons that I now reject C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Like most boys, my boys are very enamored with the fighting scenes and cinematography of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, as well as the well-written prose by both authors.  My prayer is that my lack of initial discernment will not hinder their Christian walk, and that they will come to see the evil unbiblical fruits of these authors and discard them accordingly.

*NB:  Based on further research, I am updating my initial disapproval of all J.R.R. Tolkien books to reflect that I would recommend reading his books, but with a high level of discernment.  I still would not use his books in our homeschool, but with guidance and daily dialogue, I would let me boys read The Lord of the Rings series (for more details regarding this reserved recommendation, please watch for my upcoming series on J.R.R. Tolkien).

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of the light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them," (Eph. 5:8-11).