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A recent review of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity left me struck by what I took to be one of his many insightful observations that I think relevant to this blog. In the section of the book entitled Christian Behavior under the heading of Social Morality, he talks about how the  when people say, “The Church ought to give us a lead, that is true if they mean it in the right way, but false if they mean it in the wrong way. By the Church, they out to mean the whole body of practicing Christians. And when they say that the Church should give us a lead, they ought to mean that some Christians--those who happen to have the right talents--should be economists and statesmen…but most people when they ask for a lead from the Church,  they want the clergy to put out a political programme.”  Lewis objects, saying that “the clergy are those people within the whole Church who have been specially trained and set aside to look after what concerns us as creatures who are going to live for ever…The application of Christian principles, say, to trade unionism or education, must come from Christian trade unionist and Christian schoolmasters: just as Christian literature comes from Christian novelists and dramatists,-not from the bench of bishops getting together and trying to write plays and novels in their spare time.”   Aside from some of Lewis’ references here which reflect how dated, perhaps even obsolete they are  today, the trouble with his view is that seems to simply beg the question: where in fact does a lay church member with expertise say in environmental science received the leadership to do their science “Christianly" or with the biblically-led direction that reformed pastoral leadership could offer. This would require an openness on part of seminary curricula that is unprecedented. However, Lewis’ observations miss the biblical message that eternal life-living people are in  need of participation in a vision for unfolding various political, economic, art-related, psychological contours of life in God’s creation-house with a view toward participation in the Glory presence of God’s Spirit. The biblical lesson is that this is the essence of the message of the Gospel; salvation comes in the context of a integral, many-sided life. And lay church members will need the clerical leadership that is willing to proclaim the Lordship of Christ in the whole of life (ala Dr. Runner and others’ teaching). But can we find the zeal to advocate for the openness that such a perspective demands of the average seminary curricula?  My concern is that this really becomes  a debate about reforming seminary training which will result in a similar quagmire as did earlier debates some of us had in the 80's over the establishment of a Christian view of liberal arts in higher education. 

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