Out of the Mouth of Wormwoods: Men Without Chests

Bernard Ramm wrote a wonderful book, The Devil, Seven Wormwoods, and God, in which he discussed important lessons that the enemies and detractors of the Christian faith could teach the Church. It was an enlightening reading experience. Today, I ran across this quote by Christopher Hicthens [HT: Midwest Conservative Journal] that nicely illustrates Ramm’s point.

It’s been weeks on the road, and after a grueling swing through Canada I am finally home. I tell the wife and daughter that’s it: no more god talk for a bit, let’s get lunch at the fashionable Café Milano, in Georgetown. Signor Franco leads us to a nice table outside and I sit down right next to the Archbishop of Canterbury. O.K., then, this must have been meant to happen. I lean over. “My Lord Archbishop? It’s Christopher Hitchens.” “Good gracious,” he responds, gesturing at his guest, “we were just discussing your book.” [God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything]

The archbishop’s church is about to undergo a schism. More than 10 conservative congregations in Virginia have seceded, along with some African bishops, to protest the ordination of a gay bishop in New England. I ask him how it’s going. “Well”, he lowers his voice, “I’m rather trying to keep my head down.” Well, why, in that case, I want to reply, did you seek a job that supposedly involves moral leadership?

Wonderful! Out of the mouth of a wormwood comes the pointed question that hits to the heart of true wisdom. Why indeed, Mr. Archbishop, did you take your job, all things considered? Did you not know that being an Archbishop, the head of communion of churches, would not just involve, but require moral leadership?

Sadly, it would appear that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a man of his time, a paramount example of what is wrong with so many Western men. C. S. Lewis was right when he described the modern Western man (clerics especially) as “men without chests”.

And all the time, such is the tragi-comedy of our situation, we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man: Men Without Chests

So my Christian friend, look in the mirror. Do you have a chest? If not, get one. If so, refuse to give it up. Be willing to legitimately offend. Be as Christ, willing to call the Pharisees “children of the devil” while at the same time having the compassion to forgive the woman caught in adultery. Be a man, in the best sense of the word, but a man defined by God, exampled by Jesus Christ, and lived out by biblical role models (see Hebrews 11). Christianity needs more men, men with chests.

4 thoughts on “Out of the Mouth of Wormwoods: Men Without Chests

  1. “So my Christian friend, look in the mirror. Do you have a chest? If not, get one. If so, refuse to give it up. Be willing to legitimately offend.”

    Ok, are you aware that there is but one true word of God?

  2. I am, that is why I learned to read Greek in college and still struggle with the Hebrew/Aramaic. I believe the original texts of Scripture are the inerrant Word of God. With that said, what is your point?

  3. As a regular visitor of an Episcopal Church in Southern California, your critique of the Archbishop is interesting to me. The Church I attend is currently in a “wait and see” position in any action they may take in response to the controversies and failure of leadership within the Anglican community (though our Rector is very traditional). One of the things that I liked about the Anglican church is their dedication to safeguarding against straying from orthodox doctrine, and as I student, I am at a loss for how to personally respond to these issues that have arisen over the last several years.


    Also, I was wondering if you have thought about coming to GodblogCon? We would really love to have you, and are offering a price break if you register before October 19th. Please email me if you are interested and have any questions.

  4. Jennifer, thank you for the invitation and I would love to come to GodblogCon, but I cannot get off work and the conference is unrelated to my job. Sorry. However, if everything works according to plan, I will be there next year, wherever it is held.

    As to the Episcopal Church, I was a member for twenty-seven years, until I felt I had to leave after confronting our Suffragan Bishop (see my write-up here)

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