Saturday, January 10, 2009

Longing and Hope

Plantiga effectively explains the longing Christians have for the hope of salvation and renewal in a fallen world.  He constructs a logical argument where he first uses a given that all humans long for something.  We, as humans, need something to keep us alive.  It may be family, friends, God, or our own self love, but every human has an innate desire for something.  As agents of renewal, Plantinga argues that we have a longing for hope.  This hope is not in other people, political systems, or even on our own strength.  Instead it is a hope in Jesus Christ and the prospect of Shalom.  This idea of shalom where everything is as it should be is very important to Plantiga’s argument.  Shalomj is not simply “peace”.  It is utter perfection through Jesus Christ.  We as Christians have a longing for shalom and so we hope for the coming of Jesus Christ at which point perfection will be evident.

Although Plantinga’s content is excellent, his delivery is poor.  After reading the writings of C.S Lewis, a giant of an author, Plantiga’s book is more than a step down.  Plantinga uses too many quotes and idea’s from other great minds that it seems as if he is not putting forth his own thoughts.  He uses so many outside references that the writing becomes exegetical and boring.  Although Plantinga is a very skilled author his book is comparable to that of a top chef cooking a meal with very powerful spices.  Each spice the cook uses is a quote by C.S. Lewis, St. Augustine, or T.S Eliot.  Although each spice can make a certain meal delicious, too many powerful spices can confuse the taste of the meal and actually damage the flavor that the chef was trying to achieve.  Similarly, Plantinga uses many excellent quotes to drive home his point of longing.  He unfortunately bred confusion in his writing by using too much of a good thing.

C.S. Lewis seems to attract the reader in almost everything he writes.  Although much of his writing contains very hard to understand concepts and logic he manages to maintain interest.  This is because he seems to follow a similar structure in his essays and stories.  He starts with one metaphor, example, or story and then continues the theme throughout the piece.  Platinga started with comparing a human’s sense of longing to the feelings of Gene Forrester in A Separate Peace but also compared the same longing to multiple different stories and quotes.  He chose to maintain his content as a theme instead of merging his content with his initial example through the entire chapter.  Plantinga wrote a doctrinally solid essay on our longing for Christ and Shalom in a fallen world but he failed at keeping my interest in a book on Engaging God’s World.

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