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Showing posts from January, 2007

Come In Out of the Wind

"All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind." Mere Christianity

The Mere Christianity Journal entry for today asks: "What do you think this 'larger, stronger, quieter life' looks like?"

I think it looks like Jesus.

Mark 1:21-39 tells us about a typical 24-hour period in the life of Jesus. On the Sabbath he went into the synagogue and began to teach. There was a man present with an evil spirit and Jesus cast it out of him. When Jesus and his companions left the synagogue they went to the home of Simon Peter and Andrew. Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever and Jesus healed her. That same evening the whole town of Caper…

Giving God Our All

"Christ says 'Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked--the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours." Mere Christianity

Every Sunday for the children's message in the two churches I serve I invite one of the children to put something into "The Mystery Box". The box is wooden, about seven inches in length, three inches in depth and four inches in breadth. There is just one rule for putting things in the box: the thing cannot be aliv…

The Daily Decision

"It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when he created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity." Mere Christianity

Handing my "old natural self" over to God to be killed, aye, there's the rub. For this handing over of the old self must be performed all over again every day. As C. S. Lewis says elsewhere, it is almost like the old self grows over one again while one sleeps. It is sort of like a scab which, every morning, must be ripped off again, the old hardened sh…

The Body of Christ

"Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body--different from one another and each contributing what no other could. When you find yourself wanting to turn your children, or pupils, or even your neighbours, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that. You and they are different organs, intended to do different things. On the other hand, when you are tempted not to bother about someone else's troubles because they are 'no business of yours', remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you." Mere Christianity

Because I am a unique member of the Body of Christ it is important that I not compare myself to any other member.

The Apostle Paul wrote: "Now the body is not made up of one part but many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that r…

The Letters of C. S. Lewis

At long last The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III is now in print and I am devouring every page. I'm a bit of a slow reader so I am only on page 375 of this 1810 page book!

I have been reading the letters of C. S. Lewis in dribs and drabs for ages. I think I started with Letters to an American Lady back in the 70's, followed by the spiritually nutritious letters to Sheldon Vanauken reprinted in A Severe Mercy. Then I received Letters to Children as a college graduation gift from a close friend. Years later I plowed through The Letters of C. S. Lewis as edited by Warren Lewis and later revised by Walter Hooper. Maybe a dozen years ago I retraced the steps of Lewis's lifelong friendship with Arthur Greeves as I read that collection of letters, originally entitled: They Stand Together. Then came the Latin Letters to Don Giovanni Calabria displaying, not only Lewis's great skill at writing fresh letters in a dead language, but Lewis's heart for true…

Discovering the Trinity

"An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God--that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying--the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on--the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to the goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers." Mere Christianity, pp. 142-143.

C. S. Lewis has a great knack for showing us how practical the doctrine of the Trinity really is--that God's Triune being can be discovered by the ordinary …

Divine Pretending

"In a sense you might even say it is God who does the pretending. The three-Personal God, so to speak, sees before Him in fact a self-centered, greedy, grumbling, rebellious human animal. But He says 'Let us pretend that this is not a mere creature, but our Son. It is like Christ in so far as it is a Man, for He became Man. Let us pretend that it is also like Him in Spirit. Let us treat it as if it were what in fact it is not. Let us pretend in order to make the pretence into a reality.' God looks at you as if you were a little Christ: Christ stands beside you to turn you into one. I daresay this idea of divine make-believe sounds rather strange at first. But, is it so strange really? Is not that how the higher thing always raises the lower? A mother teaches her baby to talk by talking to it as if it understood long before it really does." Mere Christianity

God's pretending--the Bible has a more theological word for it--justification. God justifies …

In Process

"We are not begotten by God, we are only made by Him: in our natural state we are not sons of God, only (so to speak) statues. We have not got Zoe or spiritual life: only Bios or biological life which is presently going to run down and die. Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came into this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has--by what I call 'good infection'. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else." Mere Christianity

The Christian life is a process. I am still, in a sense, becomi…

Good Infection

"The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?" Mere Christianity

"He who has…

Foreknowledge & Free Will

"Another difficulty we get if we believe God to be in time is this. Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tommorow. But if He knows I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise? Well, here once again, the difficulty comes from thinking that God is progressing along the Time-line like us: the only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot. Well, if that were true, if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call 'tomorrow' is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call 'today'. All the days are 'Now' for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not 'foresee' you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, thoug…

C. S. Lewis: Life, Works & Legacy

A new four volume series on the life, work and legacy of C. S. Lewis will be published by Praeger Perspectives in late April. Amazon and Barnes & Noble already have the series listed on their web sites so you can pre-order.

Yours truly has contributed four essays on Lewis's life to the first volume. For more information on these volumes which promise to be an excellent addition to Lewis studies, see the web log of the General Editor, Bruce Edwards by clicking on the link: http://www.pseudobook.com/cslewis/blog/?p=42.

Time and Beyond Time

"Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty--and every other moment from the beginning of the world--is always the Present for Him. If you like to put it that way, He has all eternity in which to listen to the split second of prayer put up by a pilot as his plane crashes in flames.

"That is difficult, I know. Let me try to give something, not the same, but a bit like it. Suppose I am writing a novel. I write 'Mary laid down her work; next moment came a knock at the door!' For Mary who has to live in the imaginary time of my story there is no interval between putting down the work and hearing the knock. But I, who am Mary's maker, do not live in that imaginary time at all. Between writing the first half of that sentence and the second, I could thi…

The Three-Personal God

"On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings--just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you can still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God's dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube." Mere Christianity
C. S. Lewis's analogy of the Trinity being like a cube is not my favorite analogy that he uses to explain the relationships in the Godhead between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But the great thing about Lewis is if you don't like one analogy he usually has a better one coming along.
The analogy I like better is that of the life of God being like a dance. "Lewis develops Gregory of Nazianzus's idea of perichoresis…

The Breath of Life

"And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" John 20:22

"But what man, in his natural condition, has not got, is Spiritual life--the higher and different sort of life that exists in God. We use the same word life for both: but if you thought that both must therefore be the same sort of thing, that would be thinking that the 'greatness' of space and the 'greatness' of God were the same sort of greatness. In reality, the difference between Biological life and Spiritual life is so important that I am going to give them two distinct names. The Biological sort which comes to us through Nature, and which (like everything else in Nature) is always tending to run down and decay so that it can only be kept up by incessant subsidies from Nature in the form of air, water, food, etc., is Bios. The Spiritual life which is in God from all eternity, and which made the whole natural universe, is Zoe. Bios has, to be sure, a certain sh…

Ancient Words

I was listening again today to one of my favorite praise songs, Ancient Words, written by Lynn deShazo. . . .
Holy words long preserved For our walk in this world, They resound with God's own heart Oh, let the ancient words impart.

Words of life, words of hope Give us strength, help us cope In this world, where'er we roam Ancient words will guide us home.

Ancient words ever true Changing me, and changing you. We have come with open hearts Oh let the ancient words impart.
Holy words of our faith Handed down to this age. Came to us through sacrifice Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.
As I listened to this song I reflected on three types of "ancient words" I very much need in my life. The first and most important category of "ancient word" that I need is the word of God from the Bible. This is the word I need to "eat" every day. It is the essential nourishment of my Christian life. It is the main way that Christ speaks to me as I speak to him in …