The 1588 Defeat of the Spanish Armada

Every once in a while you have a teacher and subject that makes school interesting. History is one of my favorite subjects, and this battle played a crucial role in the shaping of the American colonies.
battles-takes-place

In the year 1588 A.D. a battle between two world powers (England and Spain) ensued that would determine the fate of Protestantism in the western world. The Spanish Armada was one of the greatest naval forces the world had ever seen, it “consisted of 130 warships carrying 2,431 cannon and 22,000 sailors and soldiers,” (Taylor, 65). The Armada vastly outnumbered the weaker, smaller English Navy. “The English warships were fewer and smaller but also faster, more mobile, and mounted with longer-range cannon,” (Taylor, 65). Philip II, King of Spain from 1556-1598, believed that he was doing God’s will of cleansing England of Protestantism. He mentions to one of his commanders, “ You are engaged in God’s service and in mine – which is the same thing,” (Taylor, 64). In England, the “Virgin Queen” Elizabeth I held the throne, and with a much inferior navy compared to the Spanish, overseas colonization was far too costly, therefore not deemed a priority. “Instead… the crown subcontracted colonization by issuing licenses and monopolies to private adventurers…” (Taylor, 118). One such adventurer was Sir Francis Drake, who would play a vital role in “the fight for Protestantism.”

Sir Francis Drake, who was essentially a pirate, had convinced the crown and other investors that “hee that commaunds the sea, commaunds the trade, and hee that is Lord of the Trade of the world is lord of the wealth of the worlde,” (Taylor, 119). Having an approval to pirate the seas and raid the Spanish, Drake “ravaged the Caribbean coast…” (Taylor, 65) With his colonies being terrorized, his religion being undermined and Protestants rebelling in northern continental Europe, Philip II was furious. To show his dominance and the power he received from God himself, the Spanish King sent his Armada to conquer the English and finally put a stop to the Protestant heresy once and for all.

The great battle was the deciding factor in whether England and her colonies would have the freedom to choose their religion, or if there would be (as had been the case in the Netherlands) a mass slaughtering of the Protestants. Because the English ships were more maneuverable, and they had the home advantage the English prevailed. “They broke up the Armada, which in retreat homeward was battered by storms in the North Sea and Irish Sea that destroyed or crippled most of the Spanish vessels,” (Taylor, 65).

“The rival nations (the French, Dutch, and English) gradually recognized that raiding was only a hit-or-miss means to capture the benefits of overseas empire… the European rivals needed their own colonies,” (Taylor, 66). In 1620, just thirty-two years after the sinking of the Armada, the Puritans in England leave for Massachusetts Bay; founding cities such as Boston, Salem, Plymouth, and others. Had they not left to start theses cities, had King James I not taken over Elizabeth I’s throne, had the “Virgin Queen” not defeated the Armada, America today would not be the free state and would have been shaped very differently.

 

Source and Recommendations:

Alan Taylor’s American Colonies: The Settling of North America Vol. 1

An interesting strategical documentary on how the battle was won.

Or, for a fantastic dramatization of the battle, Elizabeth – The Golden Age is a great movie.

 

 

Advertisements

The Grain Offering

Image

So that which God had provided was worked by human hands into something that glorifies Him.

    We, especially in America, have convinced ourselves that what is bad for you is what tastes best. Fatty filled foods taste better than healthy foods, the escape of consequence is better than facing the responsibility of parenthood, porn is better than a relationship and a girlfriend is better than a wife,video games are better than actually going out into the world… We have castrated our future as humans being, into oversized nocturnal children.

   1 Peter 2:5 “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:3) “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

The purpose of my life is not not sinning, but living!

C. S. Lewis: Essential

After Lewis’ conversion he didn’t just go on to be a Christian nor a strong Christian, but the most influential Christian writer of the twentieth century. Lewis has a way of talking about God that doesn’t just talk about imagination, but actually uses our pulls our imagination in. One might even make the argument that without it you can’t really know God. It may simply because of the way that Lewis lived his life that provided us with a somewhat clear presentation of what it means to be a Christian in today’s modern world.

            Lewis saw reason as an anchor of faith. He knew that the faith that was based fundamentally on emotions would be subjected to change all of the time. For Lewis the call to love God with all your mind didn’t just read a book or two, but a call to be a whole different kind of person. It wasn’t only a call to use your faith and reason together nor an intellectual pursuit, but also a way of being present in the modern world. And by returning reason to it’s rightful place, Lewis showed the world how Christianity could give an answer to anyone seeking for answers to the great questions of life. As Lewis says, “Reason is the natural organ of truth, but imagination is the organ of meaning.”

            We take reason seriously as we should, but sometimes we take it too seriously and there are some things (like the gospels and the truth of the gospels) that cannot be communicated by just reason; it has to be communicated by a story. We are able to access the meaning through our imagination. The idea of story is a centrally human concept and it is essential to the kind of truth that we find in the gospels. When you are talking about rational truth, facts, and data then you don’t need it. But, when you are talking about the actual life and works of Jesus Christ then you need story to convey the message. Both Lewis and Tolkien realized that imagination is the means by which we arrive at the truth, yet it does not conflict with reason.

            I think that Lewis, having studied Norse and Greek mythology as a medieval scholar was well versed in the power of story and creativity and imagination. He combined all of that with his faith and that opened people’s minds to imagine a world where the story of Jesus wasn’t a myth but a lived reality. If someone where to approach an unbeliever with Jesus there would be a few preconceived cultural miss conceptions that just makes them uninterested. But, since a lot of what Lewis wrote was fiction (take Aslan for example) you are able to access truth with your imagination that your mind might have defenses against. Many people love Aslan, much fewer love Jesus. Lewis was well aware of the power that stories created by a Christian imagination have, to present understandable concepts that are otherwise unapproachable.

            “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I can find in myself a desire, which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not mean that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity

 In the opening chapters of The Great Divorce, we find that Hell is a bleak, dreary gray town, vast and lonely, hovering in a perpetual rainy twilight. Wandering through abandoned streets, the narrator finally stumbles across a bus stop, where a group of people is waiting for the bus. All of them are angry and argumentative, however, seemingly unable to tolerate each other’s presence; they quarrel, assault each other or drop out of the line declaring that they didn’t want to go anyway at the slightest provocation.

            Even here in my description of Lewis’ description of Hell (or purgatory) you can start to imagine a very real place. Naturally, it is because you have probably seen a dreary gray town, you have experienced a rainy twilight, you have certainly experienced angry and argumentative people. So, within this narrative there is more than a little bit of truth and you have arrived at this possible reality simply by reading and imagining it.

            When the narrator takes the “bus” up to Heaven, one of the first things he notices is how real heaven is in comparison. All the occupants of Hell are spirits who want nothing more than to be alone. Hell is so “gigantic” while the narrator is in it because everyone keeps moving farther and farther away from each other. After all… there is no definable “space” in the afterlife. Although, when the narrator enters Heaven, he begins to experience pain. He steps on the grass and finds that it is so real that it pierces through his foot. It is only after he spends time in Heaven that he, himself, becomes more real and can finally comfortably walk on the grass. At one point he asks his guide where Hell is. They had been walking around Heaven for a little while, and the narrator asks to return to the cliff where the bus ascended up from Hell. When they return, he notices that Hell is only a crack in the soil. That infinity of space that was Hell when the narrator resided there is now only a small crack that barely an ant can fit through after he’s spent time in Heaven.

            C.S. Lewis always has interesting ways to picture the afterlife. In The Problem of Pain he contemplates Hell in a different way. Hell is the absence of God and the absence of other people. It is loneliness. But it is only through choice that one can go to Hell. The doors are locked from the inside. God doesn’t reject anyone… it’s the people who reject God.

            I’ve noticed that a lot of discussions tend to talk about unbelievers, without actually talking about them. That is to say that on the one hand, we argue over the existence of Hell, and if it does exist, what kind of God would possibly create such a place. On the other hand, when we talk about the souls of those who will populate Hell we make a particular assumption: they don’t want to be there. The reasoning is something like: “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Therefore, all will want to be with Jesus, especially those going to Hell, who will be filled with regret.” They take a perfectly good verse from the Bible (Philippians 2:10) and misinterpret it, inflicting their own opinions onto the truth.

            I think that upon seeing Jesus, those who rejected Him will only be filled with more bitterness at the thought of their eternal destination. A bitterness that will grow over time; maybe until it is all that is left of them. It’s a thought I share with C.S. Lewis, “I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside

 

This will be my last post about Lewis for a while. He is a talented writer, but I do nee to take a break. Thank you so very much for reading this post, and to those whom have been with me from week one of eight… I love you

 

God Bless

Bryant Kauffman

Screwtape and The Great Divorce (A Comparison)

An obvious difference between The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters is the layout. One is a fictional journey on which there is a narrator, interactions with many other characters, and a chronological beginning, climax, end (no matter how unsatisfying you may think it is). The Screwtape Letters are just a bunch of letters thrown together; Lewis even says that there is indeed no certainty on their chronology. But there are many similarities between the two as well. In both he uses very real ways (no matter how silly) that believers and non-believers are diverted from Christ to non-sense. And finally there does not seem to be any punishment for those in Hell; though, in Screwtape he does in passing seem to mention some sort of torment inflicted on the individual.

            In this book Lewis tells a story of an amazing adventure in the afterlife. There are, of course a few things that I would have to disagree with in this book, such as the whole of purgatory. But, there is no other way I could imagine this book being written. Without the use of a purgatory scenario how could you reflect on many different people’s lives? And if you can’t reflect on many different people’s lives then there would not be a wide enough margin of excuses people make, not without making the characters seem overly winey and annoying.

            In The Screwtape Letters, Lewis has comprised a few letters that are mostly straightforward and pointed works about hell and demonic activity. The book is somewhat of a comedy about damnation and the efforts of demons to influence men. The “letters” are correspondence between a senior demon named Screwtape, who has centuries of experience in the art of tempting humans, and his younger nephew, Wormwood. The younger demon is a fresh graduate from The Tempters Training College and is on his first assignment. His task involves attempting to block, by any means necessary, a certain individual from becoming a Christian.

            The Great Divorce, which was written just three years later, deals with heaven and hell and continues the sarcastic/comedic style of The Screwtape Letters. In this story Lewis speaks as the narrator in the middle of a dream about a bus ride to heaven. The story opens in hell, where Lewis is preparing to leave with several people who actually live in Hell. And as we travel through the story we meet people in various stages of damnation, very much like Dante’s Inferno.

            There does not seem to be any real punishment in his Hell. The damned who were very evil in life, and deserve to be there as much as anyone does, are not made to pay for their deeds. They are not made to see the wrongness of what they did. Maybe I didn’t fully understand this part because the idea of purgatory confuses me. However, Lewis states clearly (p.131) that this book is an allegory not meant to be taken as literal description of the afterlife, so I wont press it.

            These two books both contain issues concerning salvation, damnation, heaven, hell, the free will of men, and other practical matters which in the end force me to conclude, C. S. Lewis is a literary genius.

Screwtape Part One

 

            “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…” (1) Lewis was writing in a time where Christianity had just started seeping its way out of mainstream culture and being passed off as just some people’s opinion or worldview. The whole reason, I think, that this book even works is because it flies under the radar of what most people accept as Christian truth. Lewis was not an evangelist but he did have a few certain gifts that he used very well, one of which was to break down obstacles to belief that people had then and still have today.

            Lewis was writing in a time where Christianity had just started seeping its way out of mainstream culture and being passed off as just some people’s opinion or worldview. This is exactly what is happening in America today. The problem with this age is not apathy, though that could be a big problem, but the whole notion of the spiritual is gone. By the end of the nineteenth century the industrial revolution was coming to a close and modern thinkers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and others, had influenced most of society. This is the world that C. S. Lewis was born into and grew up in, and it is not much different from the one we live in now.

            Lewis understood that story has a certain power to move people so that they can better understand something. He had even said that reason he thought Narnia was so effective is that the passion of Aslan took people by surprise. They where very familiar with the whole “Jesus story,” but Aslan’s death and resurrection they never saw coming, so it was much more moving to them. Most people have a wall up against Christian truth be cause they don’t even want to go there, but they will pick up something from Lewis or Tolkien and sometimes that will awaken in them a hunger for something they didn’t even know they wanted. That is the whole reason, I think, that this book even works is because it flies under the radar of what most people accept as Christian truth. In this book Lewis uses some very real ways that we as humans might be tempted and led away from Christ.

            The devil has no new tricks. Lewis was not an evangelist but he did have a few certain gifts that he used very well, one of which was to break down obstacles to belief that people had then and still have today. That is the reason he is still relevant, because many people have doubts about Jesus, flat out reject Jesus, I have an abiding fear of what C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery. Chronological snobbery is the arrogant notion that the ideas of our own day are better than the ideas of a bygone day just because the ideas are in our day. Chronological snobbery feels that things are truer because they are newer. It is not only irrational; it is also naïve, because there aren’t any really new ideas under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9–10 says,

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun.
 Is there a thing of which it is said,
”See, this is new”? 
It has been already,
in the ages before us.

 

Works Cited

(1) The Screwtape Letters, By C.S. Lewis, HarperCollins 1947 Chapter 12 

Mere Christianity in Review

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis tries to make an argument for the fundamental teachings of Christianity. He aims to give a refreshed take on Christianity while staying away from the traditional language of theology. Lewis, while trying to avoid controversies that, as he said, “… should only be discussed between scholars,” made a poor biblical (yet strong logical) case for Christianity. Not that Lewis himself didn’t believe any of the hotly debated topics, but excluding everything that is debated in the church, not just from the outside, you will inevitably exclude most of everything that is essential to Christianity.

C. S. Lewis is not a writer to which we should turn for growth in a careful biblical understanding of Christian doctrine. There is almost no passage of Scripture on which I would turn to Lewis for exegetical illumination. He doesn’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, (1) and defaults to logical arguments more naturally than to biblical exegesis. He doesn’t treat the Reformation with respect, but thinks it could have been avoided, and calls aspects of if ludicrous. (2) He refused in public or in letters to explain why he was not a Roman Catholic but remained in the Church of England. (3) He makes room for at least some people to be saved through imperfect representations of Christ in other religions. (4) He made a strong logical, but I think unbiblical, case for free will. He speaks of the atonement with reverence, but puts little significance on any of the explanations for how it actually saves sinners. (5) There was something about the way he spoke of doctrine as the “roadmap” that leads to Reality, and the way he treasured truth and reason, that made me cherish more, not less, the historic articulations of how the work of Christ saves sinners.

Lewis believed that some people, devout members of false religions, were saved and didn’t even know it:

“There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it … For example a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position” (Mere Christianity, p. 176-177).

C.S. Lewis plainly stated that he believed a person has to work to keep salvation:

“There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians…” (Mere Christianity, p.162).

“…a Christian can lose the Christ-life which has been put into him, and he has to make efforts to keep it” (Mere Christianity, p.49).

He also denied a literal Heaven:

“All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendor and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it” (Mere Christianity, p.106).

Lewis was writing in a time where Christianity had just started seeping its way out of mainstream culture and being passed off as just some people’s opinion or worldview. This is exactly what is happening today in America if not completely already. The problem with this age is not apathy, though that could be a big problem, but the whole notion of the spiritual is gone. Now all we tend to base facts on is what science can prove and science cannot prove anything in the spiritual realm. Therefore the spiritual aspect of all life must not exist at all, and it is much more easier to chalk it up to personal feelings (some go so far as to say delusions).

Lewis aimed to give a refreshed take on Christianity while staying away from the traditional language of theology. While trying to avoid controversies he made a poor biblical case for Christianity and resorts to using reason. I don’t remember seeing any direct quotes from the Bible (probably because he didn’t believe in the inerrancy of scripture). This is what I believe to be one of Lewis’ biggest flaws and greatest attributes. It is one of his great attributes because it shows that Christianity can be reasoned even in common knowledge of reality. But, it is one of his greatest flaws because instead of making a biblical defense for Jesus, he subjects himself to his own opinions of what Christianity truly is (which is why we must believe in and use the Bible).

Not that Lewis himself didn’t believe any of the debated topics, but excluding everything that is debated in the church, not just from the outside, you will inevitably exclude most of everything that is essential to Christianity. I don’t think it wise that anyone should attempt to explain something as complex as Christianity without addressing the controversies. Anything that has been debated amongst Christians has been debated for a good reason. He spoke quite a bit about free will and never such as mentions predestination or God’s elect, which are actual terms used in the Bible. That has been one of the greatest debates amongst Christians for the last few centuries.

But Lewis’ view is not simple or completely transparent. He could say, “You will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.” Problem of Pain, p. 111. I think it would be possible to argue that by “free will” Lewis sometimes only means “voluntary” rather than “having ultimate self-determination.” For example he writes, “After all, when we are most free, it is only with freedom God has given us; and when our will is most influenced by Grace, it is still our will. And if what our will does is not voluntary, and if ‘voluntary’ does not mean ‘free’, what are we talking about?” Letters of C. S. Lewis, 1966, p. 246. And perhaps most significantly, after saying that a fallen soul “could still turn back to God,” he adds this footnote: “Theologians will note that I am not here intending to make any contribution to the Pelagian-Augustinian controversy. I mean only that such a return to God was not, even now, an impossibility. Where the initiative lies in any instance of such return is a question on which I am saying nothing.” The Problem of Pain, p. 83.

I was just a bit confused when I read chapter three of book two because in every book I’ve read by Lewis it was always God initiating the “salvation” climax of the story. For instance in Perelandra, Ransom had this moment of enlightenment where he realizes freedom and necessity are the same thing. Or when (spoilers) Eustice is trying to get…I guess you could say “out of the dragon,” he couldn’t do it on his own. Maybe this is one of the thing he was thinking of when he said something should only be discussed by the experts. In my opinion I think the key to what Lewis understood of God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is with Ransom in Perelandra. What I think Lewis understood was that at the highest level these two coincided together.

Despite the disagreement I would have with Lewis on nearly every point of theology, he reads and understands scripture in an amazing way. His understanding of joy that comes from faith in Christ is simply amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

(1) C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces (London: Harper Collins, 2000), p. 45.

(2) C. S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953), p. 37.

(3) C. S.  Lewis, Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. W. H. Lewis and Walter Hooper (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1966), pp. 223, 230.

(4) Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. W. H. Lewis and Walter Hooper, revised edition (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993), p. 468.

(5) Letters of C. S. Lewis, 1966, pp. 197–198.

 

Week 3 of Mere Christianity

Book 4

            Lewis begins this book describing two different terms, making and begetting. He says that those who are made have a biological life and are later given a spiritual life by the only one who has that sort of life, God himself. The Bios life, as Lewis calls it, is “a certain shadowy or symbolic resemblance to Zoe” (or Spiritual life.) Because we were made with free will and choose to deny God, it is now impossible in order to become Sons of God on our own. Instead, we must embrace the death of this life and the beginning of a new and eternal life.

            When God made Adam, He made him in the likeness of Himself. This is different than begetting. The only begotten Son of God is Jesus. If God made man then man cannot be a god of any sort (a point that Lewis makes then later overlooks). An image Lewis paints of this is like a man sculpting a statue. The statue has all the resemblance of a man, but absolutely no ability to think or move or reason on it’s own.

So, at one point in history man had the ability to be sons of God, they had a spiritual life. A brief period of time man was in perfect communion with God, and his wife for that matter. Now, we have lost the spiritual life and it only makes sense that we would need the one who has Zoe to cross over into the Bios. In fact it is the only thing that would make sense. What Jesus came into the world to do was not show us how to be more religious or how to re-awaken our sleeping spiritual life. He came to take what was dead and make it alive. Just as a person who has drowned cannot administer his or her own CPR, so is people who are spiritually dead cannot on their own resurrect themselves. They must be born again.

Now that Book 4 is done and I reflect back I don’t remember seeing any direct quotes from the Bible (probably because he didn’t believe in the inerrancy of scripture). This is what I believe to be one of Lewis’ biggest flaws and greatest attributes. It is one of his great attributes because it shows that Christianity can be reasoned even in common knowledge of reality. But, it is one of his greatest flaws because instead of making a biblical defense for Jesus, he subjects himself to his own opinions of what Christianity truly is (which is why we must believe in and use the Bible).

 Also looking back I don’t think it wise that anyone should attempt to explain something as complex as Christianity without addressing the controversies. Anything that has been debated amongst Christians has been debated for a good reason. He spoke quite a bit about free will and never such as mentions predestination or God’s elect, which are actual terms used in the Bible. That has been one of the greatest debates amongst Christians for the last few centuries.

 All of that being said I do love Lewis. Despite the disagreement I would have with him on nearly every point of theology, he reads and understands scripture in an amazing way. And his understanding of joy that comes from faith in Christ is amazing.