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Showing posts from November, 2006

Theology is like a Map

"I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R. A. F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, 'I've no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I'm a religious man too. I know there's a God. I've felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that's just why I don't believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who's met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!'

"Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he was really turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But her…

Painting His Portrait

"I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine." Mere Christianity

Today we come to the end of Christian Behavior, book three in Mere Christianity. In the Mere Christianity Journal which I have been using as the starting point for this blog an important question is posed: How doe…

The Greenhouse Effect

"To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you." Mere Christianity

As I said yesterday, C. S. Lewis sees the relationship between faith and works in terms of a time sequence. We must begin with works, with an ardent attempt at moral living. Only by doing so do we realize how little we are capable of. That's when faith kicks in. When we realize we can't live the life God created us to live then we give it up and start trusting God in Christ to live through us. It is at t…

Faith & Rock Climbing

"Now we cannot, in that sense, discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, 'You must do this. I can't.'" Mere Christianity

In discussing the relationship between faith and works, Lewis looks at the whole matter in terms of a time sequence. First, Lewis says, we must try our very best to be morally upright people. It is only by trying our darnedest, giving it our all, that we will fully realize just how morally bankrupt we really are.

This was Lewis's own personal experience. Around the time of hi…

Fact, Faith, Feeling

"Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods 'where to get off', you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith." Mere Christianity


Many years ago, when I was a young Christian, I remember seeing the graphic illustration above of what C. S. Lewis has, here, so eloquen…

Sehnsucht

"The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must ne…

Heaven

"Aim at Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more--food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilisation as long as civilisation is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more." Mere Christianity

I agree with C. S. Lewis, that we don't think enough about heaven anymore. If we thought more about heaven, if more of us had an eternal perspective on life, then we would do more to work for the kingdom of God to come here on earth. Lewis gives the example of the English Evangelicals who abolished the slave trade as a case in point, and I think Lewis was right.

In hi…

My Journey with C. S. Lewis

The year was 1972. I was nine years old, in the fourth grade, public school, in Southern California. My teacher, Mrs Ewing, opened a book and began to read aloud to the class . . . "Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy." By the end of the first chapter, and she read a chapter each day, I was enchanted. My enchantment, at first, was with the very idea of winter as expressed by C. S. Lewis in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Eventually the enchantment took over other departments of the mind and soul.

My parents eventually bought me the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia. I was a slow reader, but gradually I devoured each book. Prince Caspian was perhaps my favorite at that time-partly because of the battle scene where a Telmarine head gets walloped off. I don't recall just when some of the Christian overtones in The Chronicles became clear to me. I'm sure that at first I just loved the books because they were wonderful st…