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.