Pure “Northernness” engulfed me: a vision of huge, clear spaces hanging above the Atlantic in the endless twilight of Northern summer …and almost at the same moment, I knew that I had met this before, long, long ago….” --C.S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy
The name of the seminary in which I teach Romantic Theology is Northwind Seminary--pointing to the breath of God and dynamic movement of the Spirit to orient the compass of our lives to true North. The Northwind Doctoral Program in Romantic Theology seeks to capture this twilight notion found in Norse mythology and Celtic spirituality, and embodied in the imaginative writings of the Oxford Inklings.
Romantic Theology is a term coined by Charles Williams and carried out collaboratively by C. S. Lewis and “our little literary club” known as the Oxford Inklings. In their shared vision and love of Greek and Norse mythology, Arthurian legends, Celtic sagas, and romantic poetry, they produced an enduring treasure of theological fantasies and spiritual writings reflecting the romantic spirit in theology. Through the portal of what Lewis called the “baptized imagination” Romantic Theology was born. The Inklings, through their writings, have inspired generations of Christians and people of goodwill to read and write with the “feeling intellect” of the heart, and not just analyze and abstract propositional truths with the discursive reasoning of the mind.
As a literary scholar and orthodox Christian, C. S. Lewis felt that “if the real theologians were doing their job” there would be no need for lay theologians like him. Lewis and his fellow Inklings championed the creative conjunction of Logos and Mythos (Reason and Story) to produce compelling works of theological fiction. JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams and others, joined Lewis in employing mythopoetics–the language of myth, metaphor, poetry and narrative–to point to religious experience and theological truths in aesthetic and concrete ways.
“A romantic theologian does not mean one who is romantic about theology, but one who is theological about romance, one who considers the theological implications of those experiences which are called romantic.”—C.S. Lewis
For the most part, however, the Inklings were content to perform romantic theology without the need to over-define the term or systematically develop the field. “What we have instead is a cross-current of Theology and Literature focused on creative imagination, romantic religious themes, and the collaboration of the Inklings to produce a body of work worthy of the name,” according to Dr. Michael Christensen who directs the program.
For more on the rational and romantic roads to truth, see my essay on “Lewis: The Rational Romantic” in the Appendix to my C.S. Lewis on Scripture, and in the book Gaining A Face: The Romanticism of C.S. Lewis by Donald T. Williams, and Romantic Religion by R. J. Reilly.
For information on taking academic courses on the Romantic Theology of the Inklings, or applying to a degree program in Romantic Theology, visit www.NorthwindSeminary.org
Direct Link to Romantic Theology Program: https://www.northwindinstitute.org/copy-of-romantic-theology-degree