Lewis on perplexing passages of scripture

You can see the front edge of my sneakers in this photo from Jericho, the setting for Sunday's scripture.
You can see the front edge of my sneakers in this picture from Jericho, the setting for Sunday’s scripture.

This Sunday I’m preaching on Joshua and the battle of Jericho from Joshua 6. This is one of those so-called “texts of terror,” in which God ordains the killing of all men and women, and boys and girls (and livestock) in the city. I’ll have to deal with this issue to some extent on Sunday. In the meantime, I’m very sympathetic with these words from C.S. Lewis on the subject. I believe strongly in points (a) and (b) below, and I love the last sentence.

The two things one must not do are (a) to believe on the strength of Scripture or on any other evidence that God is in any way evil (in Him there is no darkness at all) (b) to wipe off the slate any passage which seems to show that He is. Behind the shocking passage be sure lurks some great truth which you don’t understand. If one ever does come to understand it, one sees that it is good and just and gracious in some ways we never dreamed of. Till then it must just be left on one side.

But why are baffling passages left in at all? Oh, because God speaks not only for us little ones but for the great sages and mystic who experience what we can only read about, and to whom all the words have therefore different (richer) contents. Would not a revelation that contained nothing that you or I did not understand, be for that very reason rather suspect?[†]

C.S. Lewis, “Perplexing Passages,” in The C.S. Lewis Bible, NRSV (New York: HarperOne, 2010), 239.

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