Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The "Logres" and a Redemptive View of Place

This is an excerpt from my current work in progress, a book coming from Crossway in fall of next year tentatively titled Grace Upon Grace: The Many Glories of the One Gospel. This portion is from a longer exploration of God's redeeming purposes in the world through Christ's redemptive work, and our place in it:
God owns all places, let’s not forget. “[T]here is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence,” Abraham Kuyper reminds us, “over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

It is easy to lose heart among the ruins of any place, but there’s a heritage here, a history, even if to see it we must go all the way back before the Fall to when God said this place was “good.” The gospel would have us keep that in mind, but it would also have us look forward to the day when God proves that he wins out through Christ’s atoning work, that what he declared good will be remade—sans sickness, suffering, and societal breakdown—so that it is a land befitting its Sovereign.

The gospel gives us a realistic vision of what the world has become, but it also gives us an optimistic vision of what it will one day be. As a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for his own possession, we are given a redemptive view of place. Perhaps like C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, this may lead us to seeing the gospel springs beneath the rocky soil of the fallen world. Lewis and Williams favored a concept called Logres , which for them corresponded to the true England beneath the apparent England, the England of Arthur and Camelot and virtuous knights and questing under the banner of God and king. David Downing writes:
Lewis imagines that the title has been passed down secretly from generation to generation and that it now rests upon the one appointed to lead the battle against a new type of invasion . . . In his Arthurian books, Williams used Logres to represent the spiritual side of England, the combination of Christian and Celtic ideals, a force that stands against the tides of worldiness and corruption.
Lewis brought this concept into his fantasy work in other ways, as well, positioning secret portals between this world and another one in now-iconic wardrobes, paintings, and train stations. The gist of the Logres idea is that God’s original plan for the races, nations, and peoples—and the lands they inhabit—is still here, mostly obscured and hidden, but occasionally bubbling up to the surface, with promise of one day subsuming the ruins with their truer selves. In these literary works, characters captured by a better vision—the vision of Logres—operate according to the true England, the truer and better sense of their place.

Likewise, when we are captured by the gospel’s vision, we operate according to the kingdom of heaven, which is the truer and better place, and while it is not fully here yet, is nevertheless “at hand.” Jesus tells us the kingdom of heaven will grow from little seeds into the largest plant in the garden and from a little leaven into the whole lump of dough (Matt. 13:31-33). Paul says this of the gospel: “in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing” (Col. 1:6).

As salt and light, then, those with the gospel’s secure view of self “shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations” (Is. 61:4). The gospel gives us a redemptive vision of place.

No comments: