Thursday, January 05, 2006
Judas and Edmund
What is to be said about the two traitors: one from history and the other from the rich literature of Lewis? If compared, we of course find much that is similar, but startling, there are some differences.
Judas betrays his Lord for thirty pieces of silver and he finds the price disgusting before he is through. Edmund betrays his lord for thirty pieces of Turkish Delight that enchant him to wicked service. Judas recognizes that he has betrayed innocent blood; Edmund, we are told, must never learn the terrible price his lord paid for him. Both repent, Judas in hanging himself in disgust, and Edmund in genuine sorrow for his misdeeds.
But the odd thing I find in comparing the two is that Lewis’s Edmund is allowed repentance unto life whereas Judas perishes under the justice of God. There is only one person whose soul I understand to be condemned to hell. It says in Psalm 109, speaking prophetically of Judas, “When he is tried, let him be found guilty.” Again Acts says that Judas left the office of apostle “to go where he belongs.”
Was Lewis kinder to Edmund than God was to Judas? I think that might be true, if taken only from the human viewpoint. Perhaps Lewis could not stand to slay one of his fellow children with judgment, and so had Edmund seek and receive forgiveness. Or perhaps Lewis sought to picture Edmund’s betrayal only to be allegorical to that of Judas. He never intended a children’s story to be a forum for discussing the justice of God.
Which leads, I think, to the far more provocative question: what is to be said of the justice of God? Not much, if we read today’s liturgy. Christians are given needed homilies and blessed with thought of benevolence and forgiveness- all of which ought to be properly emphasized.
But what of the demands of a holy God for complete justice? Jesus, as the herald of the coming wrath of God, told his world that most of them were going to hell. Of course they crucified him for his message. As believers today, we find ourselves in sympathy with Lewis and Edmund, and hesitate to condemn others. And in so doing, I think we ignore the second coming.
The first coming, our Lord came as a meek Lamb to literally be led to the slaughter. In the second coming, our Lord comes as a lion (not a tame lion, to bespeak Lewis) who will rend and slaughter among the flocks of mankind. I remember growing up when the opossum got in the hen house he did not stop with the killing of one chicken; he killed all that he could sink his teeth into. I am told that lions loosed in a flock of lambs are even worse; often not a lamb survives.
It is this bloodiness that Revelation tells us is coming upon mankind. Aren’t we being a bit remiss in only telling our brothers and sisters of the love and forgiveness of God? Shouldn’t we also be warning of the coming judgment?