Daily Riches: All Men Are Idolaters (C. S. Lewis, James Martin and Helmut Thielicke)

“The sister walks up and down the aisles [of her first grade art class] looking at what each student has painted. She stops over the desk of one little boy. ‘What are you painting, Billy?’ she asks. Billy looks up and answers, ‘I’m painting the face of God.’ ‘That’s impossible,’ says the sister. ‘No one has seen the face of God.’ Billy turns back to his drawing and says, ‘They will in five minutes!’” James Martin
“He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.”
C. S. Lewis
 “I don’t believe that God is a fussy faultfinder in dealing with theological ideas. He who provides forgiveness for a sinful life will also surely be a generous judge of theological reflections. Even an orthodox theologian can be spiritually dead, while perhaps a heretic crawls on forbidden bypaths to the sources of life.” Helmut Thielicke

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you ever thought of your prayers as “aimed unskillfully … to a deaf idol” if not for the mercy of God?
  • Imagine the multitudes offering prayers which God can’t possibly take literally. Is this just others, or does it include your group?
  • Is there hope for heretics? What about for you and your “limping metaphors?”

Abba, thank you for all the bypaths that by your mercy become sources of life.

For More: The Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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