Traveling Without a Map

This post is a conclusion to yesterday’s post, Just a Bit of Coloured Paper?

Now, Theology is like the map.

Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God – experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it.

In fact, that is just why a vague religion – all feeling about God in nature, and so on – is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work: like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map. (~ from Mere Christianity)

My dear friend, quite apart from some vague experience or feeling that so many of us so often seem to be longing for, Lewis is trying to help us see that theology is the map that leads us to God.

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