“But you didn’t write Narnia!”

Last night, got a funny reminder from Ben about the nature of authority.

In a blog I’d written on a Narnian scene–from the Silver Chair, actually–I said fauns have “little deer hooves”.  Ben, my freelance (a.k.a. unpaid) editor pointed out to me that fauns are actually half goat, not half deer.

Feeling a bit belligerently playful, I answered that how did he know what kind of an animal a faun is?  A faun is a make-believe animal.  He answered that they are make-believe, but they are still defined as a particular thing.

I responded why couldn’t I change the particular thing they were supposed to be, since it was make-believe anyway?  He replied that, make-believe or not, the fictional word means something precisely.  I replied that it was an imaginary word in an imaginary book and I could interpret it any way I wanted.

He answered, “But you didn’t write Narnia!”

After laughter, I had to admit, he had a point.  I could take my half-deer “fauns” to my own book, but I couldn’t replace Lewis’ fauns with them in Narnia.  To do so would be to write my own story.  I might not like that fauns are half-goats, and if I write my own story, they might be half-deer instead, but it really has no bearing whatsoever on Lewis’ story.  I can’t take what he wrote out of it and interject what I want.  To do so would be to rudely plagiarize from his work.  If I want fauns to be half-deer, I need to write my own series and leave Lewis out of it.

In a bit of a way, this reminds me of people who try to do the very same thing with God’s work, with an important note: God’s work is not make-believe–what God speaks into existence exists.

Since God created the universe and wrote His Word, they are His intellectual property.  Being born on His world does not make us co-authors with Him.  It actually makes us characters in His story!

God didn’t, however, make us in the way that Lewis made Narnia.  In Narnia, the characters only extend as far as he wrote them, and can only do exactly what he says.  In God’s Word, humans have free will.  Though we are in His story, we are not bound to love Him or obey Him.  We were not made by God the same way that He made gravity or the weather or the planets or the stars.  These forces obey His will and have no mind of their own.  But He gave us a mind of our own, and we can write our actions as we choose.  He has even given us dominion over the earth.

What we cannot do, however, is make new rules for anything He has not given us dominion over.  For example, we cannot change what He has spoken.  His Word, whether we agree with it or not, is completely off-limits to our meddling.  While I can possibly take the work of an earthly author and shamelessly plagiarize from it or revise it as I wish to make it as I want, I cannot take the work of the Divine Author and do anything whatsoever to it.

Just as I cannot go up to gravity and say, “Gravity, stop working for a few minutes and let me float!”, I cannot go to God’s Word and say, “I don’t like this part–here’s how I’d change it.”  I’d actually have a better chance of changing gravity.  That’s because gravity is part of a perishable, fallen creation ruined by our sin.  God’s Word, however, is perfect and eternal–He says so!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4, NIV)

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20, NIV)

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13, NIV)

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:23, NIV)

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. (2 Timothy 2:8-9, NIV)

I am created, and I cannot write a different story for the Creator to follow.  I didn’t speak this universe into existence and therefore I cannot change the rules of anything the Creator hasn’t given me dominion over.

In the same way, only even more serious, I didn’t inspire God’s Word and therefore I cannot change so much as a letter of it.  Only God, who inspired His Word to be written by various men and through various ages, can determine what is written there.

If I want to write my own way to live life, I need to start my own story.  Of course, in doing so, there is far more of a problem than me picking up a pen and trying to compete with C.S. Lewis.  It goes back to what else God created: me.  Since He created me, I belong to Him, and I am in high treason if I go against His Word and strike out on my own.

. . What I’ve shown so far is that I have no rational reason or power to go against God’s Word.  What I haven’t shown is that I also have no moral reason.  But this is the most important reason of all!  This is the very greatest part about God: not His power, but His love!

The most important reason as to why I cannot go against God’s Word is because it is good and it is Life.

The reality is, we can edit a sinner’s work because it will contain errors.  We can tell finite fallacious beings, for example, that they thought a faun is half a deer when it is really half a goat.  We can make a sinner’s work better with the right improvements.

What we can’t do is edit God’s Word to be any better that it already is, because it is best already!  He is all-knowing, all-wise, and, best of all, all-good God, and so everything He writes is exactly the way it should be.

It might not always seem like everything in God’s Word is good to you or me.  But what we have to recognize is that we are not only finite, but we are sinners.  Our judgment has been tainted by sin.  We are dishonest judges of God’s Word, bribed by Satan to make attacks against it.  Instead of committing the fallacy of Eve, and distrusting God, we need to trust in His nature and devote ourselves to His Word.

God could have asked us to do this just because He is our Creator.  But He didn’t.  God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would be forgiven of our sin and live forever with Him.   God’s mind is not like our minds.  If we made creatures that caused us unimaginable grief and would cost us the very most precious sacrifice we have to give, we wouldn’t give it.  We’d destroy them, eternally damn them, and start over.  So I’m so thankful that God is not like me.  I’m so thankful that His Word doesn’t conform to my standards.  If it did, it wouldn’t be the map to salvation that it is.

The next time you doubt or question God’s Word . . remember that He’s the Author, and you’re not . . but don’t just stop there.  Remember also that He loves you–enough to give you the free will to reject Him . . and enough to die to redeem you, if you will trust in what He has written.

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:8b-10, ESV)

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