Blog Posts by Joe Rigney

Putting on the Brave Face

Joe Rigney

Coaching tee ball is hard. And not just because it’s like herding a pack of wet cats. Or because five-year-olds generally prefer digging in the dirt to fielding grounders. Or because twenty minutes in, the main thing on half of the kids’ minds is the juice box after the game.

For me, coaching tee ball is hard because of the painful sweetness of the memories that are conjured on the…

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When Envy Turns Deadly

Joe Rigney

Holy Week is a wonderful time for meditation and reflection. In addition to prayerfully considering the actions of Jesus in his triumphal entry and his temple cleansing and cursing, it’s worth reflecting on the actions of some of the other key players in the climax of God’s redemptive drama. When we consider the motives and deeds of the Jewish leaders, not only do we see the unfathomable wisdom of God…

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When Laughter Is An Act of Defiance

Joe Rigney

When you finally get the news, you hope you’ll be ready. You never know until the moment arrives, until you’re finally confronted with the long-awaited reality.

A few weeks ago, my mom called to tell me that my father’s long fight with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s was coming to an end. Seven years of fading memories, of weight loss, of slow death. Seven years of decline, then plateau, then sharp decline…

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Be the Smile of God to Your Children

Joe Rigney

He’s a squirmy one, he is. If I don’t watch him, he’ll wriggle off the bed. But he doesn’t want to. He’s enjoying the tickle fight too much. I can’t blame him. Those giggles make this father’s heart want to leap out of my chest. I wonder how long this laugh will last.

Reflect on the tickle fight with me. See the layers of reality at work.

Triune Joy in

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Recovering the Lost Art of Chivalry

Joe Rigney

They say that chivalry is dead, that the medieval ideal of the humble knight is laid low in the dust. They were saying the same in C.S. Lewis’s day. And Lewis, rather than lamenting the loss of chivalry, sought to do something about it.

Lewis loved chivalry, at one point even referring to it as “the one hope of the world.” Lewis deeply appreciated the double demand that the chivalric…

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Envy Hunts in a Pack

Joe Rigney

Picture your bathroom. Now picture your toilet. Now, you know that space behind the toilet, the disgusting place where nobody goes? The place that, if you should happen to drop your toothbrush, it means that you’ll just have to buy a new one? Okay, that place is like your heart. Or at least the sinful parts of your heart. All kinds of junk lives back there: lying, back-biting, lust, pride,…

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Why Envy Is a Danger for the YRR

Joe Rigney

And behold, I saw a white horse. Its rider’s name was Success, and Envy followed him.

Envy is a movement killer. And if you ask me, it is probably the fundamental danger facing the modest movement called Young, Restless Reformed (YRR) in the years ahead. Envy is a movement-killing sin precisely because it combines such deadly opposites. Envy is a gaping maw, a roaring lion seeking to devour, the relentless…

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‘Les Misérables’ and the Law of God

Joe Rigney

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is again a topic of conversation, and for good reason.

Christians, in particular, have rightly celebrated the portrayal of the beauty of mercy and grace in this moving 150-year-old tale. Most of the theological analyses have contrasted Javert, the law-obsessed Inspector, with Valjean, the grace-transformed thief.

And while much of this analysis has been spot-on, it’s important that a central biblical and theological reality not get…

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The Story-Teller Who Entered In

Joe Rigney

God is an Author. This world is his story. We are his characters.

I first heard of the analogy sitting in a college philosophy class, and I’ve used it ever since. I find it personally fruitful and pastorally helpful in addressing everything from God’s sovereignty and human freedom to the two wills of God to the problem of evil. It’s what you might call a potent metaphor.

And a biblically…

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So Where Was God?

Joe Rigney

The question is always the same. Where was God?

After the initial shock and horror subsides, after the news crews go home, we’re always left with the same question: So where was he?

Did he know ahead of time what was going to happen one week ago today? Was he aware of the shooter’s plans? Does he have foreknowledge, foresight, the ability to peer into what for us is the…

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Psalm 111: Delighting in the Works of God

Joe Rigney

Psalm 111:2 reminds us of a fundamental principle: Delight leads to study. A Lover can recall every feature of his Beloved’s face. A mother knows every dimple, hair, and birthmark on her baby’s body. When we recognize something as full of splendor and majesty, careful attention is no chore. When we are fascinated, when we marvel at some wonder, when our hearts rise with delight in some reality, the natural…

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To See the World As It Really Is: C. S. Lewis on Education

Joe Rigney

Having examined the form of education that Lewis rejects, we turn now to a brief summation of his own view. The following tenets are not the whole of Lewis’s educational paradigm, but instead form some of the nonnegotiables that Lewis felt were under particular attack in his day.

The Tao

Genuine education embraces the Tao. For Lewis, the Tao appears to be a combination of the absoluteness of reality…

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Where Do We Find Jesus in the Old Testament?

Joe Rigney

For me, one of the most exciting elements of Scripture is its use of typology. Put simply,

[Typology is] the idea that persons (e.g., Moses), events (e.g., the exodus), and institutions (e.g., the temple) can — in the plan of God — prefigure a later stage in that plan and provide the conceptuality necessary for understanding the divine intent (e.g., the coming of Christ to be the new Moses, to…

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C. S. Lewis vs. Modern Education (Part 2)

Joe Rigney

We’ve seen, in Part 1, that Lewis’s critique of modern education begins by highlighting the marginalization of value statements, the separation of fact and value, and the creation of men without chests. However, Lewis is not merely lamenting the loss of virtues like courage, fidelity, and sacrifice. For he knows that nature abhors a vacuum, and in the absence of these virtues, men will turn elsewhere to find meaning…

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C. S. Lewis vs. Modern Education (Part 1)

Joe Rigney

Part of my goal in writing these posts is to commend the Narnian stories as a component of Christian discipleship. In doing so, I’m not merely contending that we can read them profitably as Christians, but that C. S. Lewis intended these stories to inculcate Christian values, habits, and truth.

We’ve already seen that he intended these stories to “steal past the watchful dragons” that hindered true affections…

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What Is the River of History?

Joe Rigney

Edwards writes:

God’s providence may not unfitly be compared to a large and long river, having innumerable branches beginning in different regions, and at a great distance one from another, and all conspiring to one common issue. After their very diverse and contrary courses which they hold for a while, yet all gathering more and more together the nearer they come to their common end, and all at length discharging…

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Narnia Helps Us Live Better Here

Joe Rigney

Many Christian readers, upon discovering additional layers of meaning in the Narnian stories, immediately jump to the conclusion that the Chronicles are allegories. These same readers would be surprised to learn that C. S. Lewis denied multiple times that the stories are allegories.

The Narnian Stories Are Not Allegories

But it is not, as some people think, an allegory (“Letter to Sophia Storr,” in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis

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Two Tensions in Edwards’s View of History

Joe Rigney

One of the great challenges for those of us who love and embrace “the supremacy of God in all things” is to push this glorious truth into the corners. We must get specific. The supremacy of God in science. The supremacy of God in technology. The supremacy of God in literature. And, in light of our reflections on Jonathan Edwards’s “A History of the Work of Redemption,” the supremacy…

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Three Objections to Fairy Tales and C. S. Lewis's Response

Joe Rigney

C.S. Lewis loved fairy stories. He thoroughly believed that “sometimes fairy stories say best what needs to be said” (the title of one of his essays). And, as we’ve seen, Lewis rejected the modern association of fairy tales with children. Adults can and should enjoy fairy stories.

But Lewis was aware that many regarded fairy stories as unsuitable even for children. In “On Three Ways of Writing for

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Five Purposes of God in the Work of Redemption

Joe Rigney

The final portion of Jonathan Edwards’ first sermon on “A History of the Work of Redemption” relates five designs of God in the great work that he carries on from the fall to the end of the world.

  1. According to 1 Corinthians 15:25 and 1 John 3:8, “one great design of God in the affair of redemption was to reduce and subdue those enemies of God till they should all…
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Are Fairy Tales Just for Children?

Joe Rigney

The central thrust of this recurring column is that learning to live like a Narnian is something worth pursuing. Indeed, I want to commend it as a crucial component of Christian discipleship. In other words, I want to make a case for Narnian discipleship, not merely as a coincidental byproduct of reading the Narnian stories, but as one of Lewis’s (and God’s!) chief goals in the Narniad itself.

Beware of

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All of History Is Redemptive History

Joe Rigney

In a previous post, I lamented the fact that Jonathan Edwards died prior to writing his unfinished masterwork, a God-centered biblical theology and world history, integrated by Christ’s work of redemption. But God, despite removing Edwards from this world, did not leave us without a witness.

Almost 20 years before his death, Edwards preached a 30-part sermon series on A History of the Work of Redemption, which was…

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Learning to Breathe Narnian Air

Joe Rigney

In 1956, after completing the last book in The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis wrote a short article in the New York Times Book Review explaining how a childless professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature came to write fairy tales.

Dismissing the idea that he had some master plan to “say something about Christianity to children” which led him to choose the fairy tale genre, researched the reading habits…

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Three Points on Edwards's History of Redemption

Joe Rigney

Historical counterfactuals fascinate me. What if the British had won the Revolutionary War? What if Constantine had lost the Battle of Milan? What if Hitler had never been born?

As an amateur scholar of Jonathan Edwards, one of the most intriguing counterfactuals to me centers around Edwards’s untimely death in 1758. After accepting the position of president of the College of New Jersey, Edwards died of a small pox vaccination.…

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Abortion Is About God

Joe Rigney

They say that nothing is certain except death and taxes. In America, at least, we can add one more thing to the list: Every four years politicians and pundits will wax eloquent about the “difficult” and “controversial” issue of abortion.

Debates about “a woman’s right to choose” and “a baby’s right to life” will quickly degenerate into shouting matches that obscure rather than clarify the issues.

As Christians, we don’t…

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