I understand that the producers of the movie “A Wrinkle in Time” stripped it of all its Christian references. I should add not merely references, but its Christian meaning, its Christian purpose, its Christian universe.
I’ve neither read the book nor seen the movie, but it’s worth thinking about this for a moment. One could say this was an act of worldly opportunism: use a popular Christian story to make some money for non-Christians. But why go to the trouble of making so many changes? There must be more to it.
We could say it’s an assault by non-Christians against Christianity. We could liken it to a parasite killing the host on the inside while the outside appears healthy. Given the ancient clash between those in God’s household and those outside, between the saved and the lost, between the friends and enemies of God, this explanation makes sense.
But there may be a less comfortable explanation. Disturbed by the onslaught of scientific arguments against Christianity and the Bible in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, a significant number of Christians tried to bridge a modern divide. They did not want to give up the comforts of the old religion, but they also did not have the confidence in the Word of God to stand on that alone. They adopted a modern, scientific worldview that excluded God from the material world, but fought to keep a Christian God in the picture to address spiritual truths.
This was liberal Christianity, and it was brilliantly exposed in “Christianity and Liberalism” by J. Gresham Machen in 1922. Liberal Christianity retains the phrases, promises, and trappings of New Testament Christianity, but denies the literal truths of sin, miracles, God’s wrath, God’s holiness. Universalist, humanist principles fill in the spaces once held by orthodoxy. Thus one can praise the light, without identifying who the Light really is, what He actually did, or what He actually said. Liberal Christianity can be very friendly with other faiths, with homosexuality, with environmentalism, because much of the good is really all the same wherever one finds it.
Madeleine L’Engle, the author of “A Wrinkle in Time”, was known for avoiding Christian labels. Though she offended non-Christians too, there were Christians who were uneasy with her approach. She attended an Episcopal church prominent for its liberal theology.
What I wonder is if there are not fans of L’Engle’s work, who could change around her story, removing the overtly Christian elements, and who could do so without actually thinking they were doing the story any harm? Since liberal Christianity invites the very thing we see in the current treatment of “A Wrinkle in Time”, is it that the seeds were sown for it in her own writing? Mr. Ritchey can set me straight…he’s read the book and seen the movie. I need to ask him what he thinks….good! Another faculty discussion!
I’ll close with a Machen quote from the book I mentioned:
“So modern liberalism, placing Jesus alongside other benefactors of mankind, is perfectly inoffensive in the modern world. All men speak well of it. It is entirely inoffensive. But it is also entirely futile.”
A Word from the Headmaster, Brian Turner
Week 27 ~ 03/19/2018