Linus Van Pelt: TheologianWith the upcoming release of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a lot of well-deserved attention has been directed towards C.S. Lewis. However, it is time that we direct our focus toward another one of the great theologians of the twentieth century: Linus Van Pelt.
I will make no secret that my favorite Christmas special is "A Charlie Brown Christmas", which is wrapping up as I write this. Sure the animation is primitive; Charlie Brown's Christmas tree grows, and then loses, additional tree limbs. The plot is not incredibly complicated. But it is a wonderful special: the Vince Guraldi music, the childlike simplicity, and then there's Linus.
There is that moment when Charlie Brown desperately asks, "Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?" I apologize for the hyperbole, but the following scene is one of the greatest in television history:
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.
For a child, Linus was a wise theologian. Now a child might not seem like a worthy candidate for the title "wise theologian". After all, he did not have any sort of degree. He was just a child. But some of the most profound truths are revealed to us simply. A story--whether the true story of Christmas or C.S. Lewis' fanciful tale of Narnia--can speak volumes that our reasoned arguments cannot reach. Linus knew the story.
Christmas has become somewhat of a commercial racquet in the eyes of many, but Linus knew that there was something more. He didn't try to beat it into people's heads. But when a friend was desperately looking for the good, for the hope, for the joy that is supposed to be associated with Christmas, Linus humbly obliged. That's a good example to follow.
If you read the "Peanuts" comic strip, you'll find that Linus is quite knowledgeable about theology. Not bad for a kid. But it is at this time of year that we recognize his achievement. So here's to you, Linus Van Pelt. Though you are a cartoon who has funny hair and carries around a security blanket, you are one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century.