The Case against Scientism – leading scholars explore Lewis’s prophetic warnings about the abuse of science

„The new oligarchy must increasingly rely on the advice of scientists,

till in the end, the politicians become merely the scientists’ puppets”.

C. S. Lewis in „Willing Slaves of the Welfare State”.
oligarchy

More than a half century ago, famed writer C.S. Lewis warned about how science (a good thing) could be twisted in order to attack religion, undermine ethics, and limit human freedom. In this documentary „The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism,” leading scholars explore Lewis’s prophetic warnings about the abuse of science and how Lewis’s concerns are increasingly relevant for us today.

Some quotes, followed by notes from the documentary video:

  • lewis holy trinity churchDuring the first half of the 20th century, 3 prophetic writers warned about the dark side of scientific and technological progress: (1) G K Chesterton, ‘Eugenics and other evils‘ (2) George Orwell, ‘1984‘ and (3) C S Lewis ‘Abolition of Man‘. Best known for his Narnia story and his books of Christian theology, C S Lewis also had an intense interest in the growing power of scientism- the efforts to use the methods of science to explain and control every part of human life.
  • Lewis was opposed to an ideology, which in his view had been confused with science. It was a particular materialistic approach which  wanted to reduce everything we could learn scientifically to materialistic causes- blind, undirected causes. (Angus Menuge PhD) Lewis thought that science was a perfectly legitimate enterprise. He never denied it, he in fact studied it quite a bit. (Victor Reppert Phd). Just like in all human disciplines, Lewis thought that science could be corrupted, and that some people could pursue science because they wanted power over the world and power over other people, in particular. (John G West PhD) What he saw was that you had to avoid those extremes, not in the employment of science, but in the popularization of science. (Michael Aeschliman PhD)
  • You could not afford to ignore the finding of science, the importance of scientific method, you had to see that it’s one of the greatest applications and developments of the rational method perse, a subset of the rational method. But, that it was very dangerous, and then in the 20th century we had had very malignant consequences to deify it. Scientific socialism is credibly a scientific version of politics. The Marxists called their system scientific socialism. Well, no one in their right mind, in 2012, will say that Marxism was scientific. No one in his right mind, but people did for 170 years.
  • Social Darwinist racial science in Nazi Germany. Enormous prestige was given to racialist views by their apparent clothing people such as Heckel and Münchner popularizing reductive scientific ideas with immense success. In many ways, more success in Germany than in England.
  • Lewis saw these developments: 2 World Wars, in one he served and was badly wounded, had roots in barbaric and hysterical scientistic ideas of abuses of the scientific method, abuses of scientific terminology and language, abuses of scientific faith. When warning about the abuse of science, Lewis made an unusual comparison. Although most people think of science as something modern, Lewis compared it to something ancient: MAGIC. Lewis thought that science and magic are twins. If you think about this, it might sound very strange. But Lewis was very perceptive here. In fact, he highlighted 3 different ways that science and magic really are quite similar.

(1) Science as religion.

Science has the ability to function as a religion. Certainly, a magical view of the world can give one a sense that there’s something more than just our every day lives. If you walk through a forest and think it’s enchanted it gives you a grand vision that there’s something out there that we don’t ordinarily experience.It can give you a sense of meaning. There’s a real reason why fantasy stories are so beloved… It gives people a sense of grandeur of the universe and something higher than ourselves. And in fact, for some people who aren’t religious, this magical view of the world can actually be more attractive, because it substitutes for that. In the same way, science can be an alternative religion. And during Lewis’s own time, there were people like H G Wells, who turned Darwins’ theory of evolution into this cosmic theory of life developing in this long struggle in the human universe, and then human life develops in this heroic character fighting against nature, and then, eventually, man evolves, and evolves himself through eugenics into a wave of demigods. This epic cosmic struggle of evolution was really an alternate religion for H G Wells, and you see that same thing today, whether it be Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins who says that „Darwin has made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist„. Or, in 2012, we had 10-20,000 people converge on Washington DC for this Reason Rally, where a lot of people testified that they really offer science as a religion. Today, you see a lot of people speaking in the name of science, who offer science as a quasi religion. It’s what gives their life meaning. Another area where we see this today is in the celebration of Darwin’s birthday. Hundreds of colleges, community organizations, if not thousands around the world, on Feb. 12th, every year, hold Darwin day celebrations. It really takes on the trappings of a religion.

(2) Science as credulity

A second way science and magic are similar, according to C S Lewis, is their encouragement of a lack of skepticism. Again, this may seem just completely outlandish, because science, how does that promote gullibility? How? It’s supposed to be just the hard facts. Now, in magic, you can think there’s a witch doctor and the tribe believes whatever the witch doctor says. And so, magical thinking can promote a type of credulous thinking where you just trust what the authority figure says. But, how does science promote that type of credulous and gullible thinking? Lewis pointed out that in the modern world, people will believe almost anything if it’s dressed up in the name of science.

For Lewis, one of the leading examples of science fueling gullibility was Freudianism. Lewis had an interest in Sigmund Freud since his days an Oxford undergraduate. Lewis was intrigued by some of the claims of psychoanalysis, but he ultimately rejected the efforts by Freud’s followers to explain everything from religion to stealing cars as a result of our subconscious urges. Lewis pointed out that if you actually take Freud’s view to its eventual conclusion, that actually undermines even the belief in Freudianism. Lewis’s point is: Where does this end? If you really think that all reasoning, fundamentally, is based on sub rational urges and that we can’t analyze those urges, and there isn’t real reason we can judge, based on evidence, and that we can’t be self critical, then that destroys Freudianism, just like it destroys everything else.

Shortly after Lewis accepted Christianity, he satirized Freud in his allegory ‘The Pilgrim’s Regress’. In Lewis’s story, the main character, John, winds up thrown in jail by a character named Sigismund enlightened. Sigismund was actually SIgmund Freud’s real first name, so this was very much a parody about Freud. But, what is this jail he is thrown into? Well, it’s a jail governed by this giant, and this giant has a particular propensity, that anything that he looks at becomes transparent. And so, when this pilgrim character is thrown into this dungeon, into this jail, it’s a jail of horrors because whenever he looks at someone , he doesn’t see them, he sees their insides, he sees through them. It’s like a house of horrors. And that was Lewis’s picture of where Freudianism leads you: If you try to deconstruct everything, you’re left with nothing

Another example of science inspired credulity, according to Lewis, was what he called evolutionism- the popular idea that matter could magically transform itself into complex and conscious living things, through a blind and unguided  process. Lewis’s doubts about unguided evolution went back to his days as a soldier in World War I. While recovering from shrapnel wounds, a young Lewis read the book ‘Creative Revolution’ by french natural philosopher Henri Bergson. Bergson questioned the ability of Darwin’s theory to account for complex structures, like the human eye, through a blind process like natural selection. Lewis believed that evolutionism, like Freudianism, contained a fatal self contradiction regarding the human mind, according to the Darwinian view. Reason was simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of a mindless process based on survival of the fittest. Lewis pointed out the key difficulty with the Darwinian account of reason: „If my own mind is the product of the irrational,” he asked, „how shall I trust my mind when it tells me about evolution?” In his personal copy of Charles Darwin’s autobiography, Lewis underlined passages where Darwin had asked himself the same question. (16:00) The idea that a blind and purposeless process without a mind  can produce things like human beings that have minds, and produce moral beliefs in things that sometimes go against our need for physical survival, the idea that a mindless process of survival of the fittest could create such things, really was an outlandish one, according to Lewis. How could a mindless process produce minds? And, to think that it could really just shows how gullible people can be in the name of science.

(3) Science as power

The third similarity between science and magic, according to Lewis, is the quest for power. Magic was about the quest for power. Magicians wanted to have power over the world and over the universe. They wanted to harness the deeper powers of nature in order to control it, and Lewis said that much of modern science, not all, but much of modern science was actually developed fro power over the world. For many people in the 20th century, the power of modern science was its greatest virtue. They hoped science would usher in a new age of peace and prosperity- a scientific utopia. For the scientific utopians of Lewis’s era, science was the savior that would allow us to remake our world. And of course that can be good. Modern science can bring us good things. Many things: from the microwave oven to the computers, to life saving treatments of modern medicine, which Lewis certainly appreciated, But, on the other hand, that tendency to want to control things can bring us the Orwellian state of George Orwell’s 1984. And so, Lewis thought that modern science, in fact, was far more dangerous than magic, because magic failed. Magic doesn’t work at the end of the day. And so, it wasn’t so dangerous because people couldn’t use it to control the world. Modern science has the potential that you really can control  people, if you find the right drugs, or find the right treatments, you can manipulate them. And so, if you don’t have some other way of protecting to remedy what you do in the name of science, some ethical basis that isn’t dictated by science itself, that can control it, then you are facing a really bleak future.

1927 Supreme Court

Lewis’s critique of scientific utopianism was at the heart of his novel ‘That Hideous Strength’, which tells the story of a conspiracy to transform England into a Scientific dictatorship. The conspiracy is led by a government bureaucracy, with a deceptively innocuous name  of the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments or NICE. „That Hideous Strength’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ are the 2 greatest dystopias  in our language, in the 20th century. The agenda of NICE in ‘That Hideous Strength’ reads like a wish list drawn up by England’s leading scientific social reformers. It included sterilization of the unfit, selective breeding, biochemical conditioning, experimentation on both animals and criminals, and above all- truly scientific planning. A scientific planning that is pretending to provide a new humanity, that is doing away with traditional ethics, that is doing away with all traditional restraints. (United States 1927: Forced Sterilization Upheld. Supreme Court Rules: „Three generations of imbeciles are enough”. Alabama 1947: Blacks denied Penicillin as part of US Public Health Service study on effects of syphilis.) Lewis depicts a world in ‘That Hideous Strength’, in which nothing is sacred. Daniel Dennet has told us that the essence of modernity is that nothing is sacred.  Nothing is sacred, which includes the human person, and when that happens, there are no distinctions between individuals, or humans and animals, or humans and vegetables, and humans and minerals and we have the kind of things we had in the 20th century.

In the 2 decades before his death, Lewis became increasingly alarmed by the scientific authoritarianism. Lewis was very concerned by the dogmatic use of science, and that is why he wrote his novel ‘That Hideous Strength’, that is why he wrote his book ‘The Abolition of Man’, where he actually worries and somewhat predicts the rise of a new class of people, of experts, speaking in the name of science, who would dictate to everyone else. In fact, by the end of his life, Lewis was worrying about the rise of what he called scientocracy- government and society that claim to be based on the claims of modern science, but, in reality really is based on a scientific click of a few people who are speaking in the name of science. And maybe they’re adopting the majority view of science, but, they’re claiming the right to rule based on their scientific knowledge and expertise.

barcode at birthLewis’s concern for the authoritarian science seems eerily prophetic. (See photos of actual headlines form newspapers at the 23rd minute) In a world driven by science and technology, those who question the new order, like C S Lewis did, increasingly find themselves labeled anti-science. C S Lewis would have rejected the charge. Lewis did not accept the idea that science was a special form of knowledge, that was somehow immune to inspection, or somehow cordoned off from the nonspecialist assessing the deliverance of the sciences. Lewis was well aware, first of all, that there is no such thing as science, as such. There are sciences. And each science has its particular methods, and its particular area of study, and also, that the sciences to be good need to interact with one another, but they do so by means of the larger tools of good rational critical thinking. And so, the things that scientists say are subject to review by everyone who is able to think critically, to think rationally. Lewis did not deny that scientific expertise might be necessary for good public policy in many areas. But he insisted that science alone was not sufficient. Knowing how cells work, or knowing how ecosystems work doesn’t tell you what you ought to do for your society, because public policy is not just about technical expertise as to how things work. It’s about what good it’s worth having it in first place and as C  S Lewis pointed out, on these questions a scientific training gives you no added value. Scientists are not moral philosophers. Yet, political and social judgments involve, not just how do things work, and how can we make them work better? But, how should we act, and what’s worth spending money on, and what’s worth doing, and what freedoms are worth giving up or not?

healthcare mandate

On these sort of moral and ethical questions, someone in science training, it doesn’t give them the right to dictate to the rest of society. C S Lewis: „I dread government in the name of science, that is how tyrannies come in”. C S Lewis thought that science was a good thing, but he also thought that it held some really strong dangers. The biggest danger, really, was the penchant to control. In a scientific view, that is the only way that we have knowledge of the world. And so, if you think that I have the scientific truth about something, that’s end of story. I know everything. That really tends to feed a power trip, whether you’re a scientist or a politician who is trying to latch on to the prestige of science, you really have people who are going to abuse their power because they thing, „Look, we’re the only ones who know what should happen, because we know how the universe really works. Therefore, we should be able to dictate what our cultural beliefs are, we should dictate what our government should do, how we should design governmental programs, we should dictate all manner of public policy and anyone who doesn’t have a scientific training or isn’t part of the consensus view of science is basically stupid or against progress, or against science, and so should be swept by the wayside and shouldn’t be listened to. And Lewis thought that that almost totalitarian impulse was really a dangerous thing.

Lewis was properly so, frightened by that potential within science. That’s why he stressed, „We really need limits on science and that there is something behind science, a larger, transcendent ethical sphere behind science and that we aren’t just blind matter  in motion, that we’re part of a designed universe that actually sets limits on what we should and shouldn’t do. It’s an age old problem: How do we prevent something good to being twisted for evil ends? C S Lewis hoped that scientists themselves would find a way to rescue science from scientists, creating a regenerate science that respected human rights and honored human dignity. A science that would no longer be the magician’s twin.

The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case against Scientism

Reclame

C S Lewis from atheism to theism, and then from theism to Christianity

1. C.S. Lewis – from atheism to theism

lewisLewis: The new Psychology was at that time sweeping through us all. We were all influenced. We were all concerned about fantasy, or wishful thinking. I formed the resolution of always judging and acting with the greatest good sense.

Walter Hooper: He was saying that all youth at that time were trying to escape from wish fulfillment dreams. They got that from Freud. And they wanted to in one way spit on the images of their youth, and go onto they knew not what. But, anyway, leave that behind because it was juvenile.

Lewis: I was at that time living like many atheists; in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with him for creating a world. Why should creatures have the burden of existence forced on them without their consent?

Lewis: All the books were beginning to turn against me. Indeed, I must have been as blind as a bat not to have seen, long before, the ludicrous contradiction between my theory of life and my actual experiences as a reader. The most religious were clearly those on whom I could really feed.

Lewis: I can only describe it as the Great War between Barfield and me. When I set out to correct his heresies, I find that he had decided to correct mine! And then we went at it, hammer and tongs, far into the night, night after night.

Duriez: Barfield believed that the imagination plays a very important part in how we know. He rejected the model that science is the only way to truth, to acquiring truth. He felt that the imagination was laid behind even the work of science. It gave meaning to propositions. And so he felt that Lewis was missing out in his whole approach to reality on what made knowledge possible.

Peter Kreeft: When Lewis talks about joy, he talks about something that he labels the central theme of his whole life. But what he means by joy is not the satisfaction of a desire, but a desire that is more desirable than any satisfaction.

Lewis: There was no doubt Joy was a desire. But a desire is turned not to itself, but to an object. I had been wrong in supposing that I desired for Joy itself. All value lay in that of which Joy was the desiring. The naked other. Unknown, undefined, desired. I did not yet ask „Who is desired?”

Kreeft: The very experience of Joy that Lewis had was an arrow that led to the target of belief in God. Lewis argued innate, deep desires do not exist unless they correspond to something that can satisfy them. If there is hunger, there is food. If there is sexual desire, there is sex. If there is curiosity, there is knowledge. So if there is the desire for this thing that is beyond this world, there must be something beyond this world.

Lewis: The fox had now been dislodged from the wood and was running in the open, bedraggled and weary, the hounds barely a field behind. The odd thing was that before God closed in on me, I was in fact offered what now appears to be a moment of wholly free choice. I was going up Headington Hill on the top of a bus. Without words, and almost without images, a fact about myself was somehow presented to me. I became aware that I was holding something at bay.

I felt myself being given a free choice. I could open the door or keep it shut. I chose to open. I felt as if I were a man of snow at long last beginning to melt. Drip-drip. And presently trickle-trickle.

I had always wanted, above all things, not to be interfered with. I had wanted — mad wish — to call my soul my own. I had been far more anxious to avoid suffering than to achieve delight.

You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.

Total surrender, the absolute leap in the dark, were demanded. I gave in, and admitted that God was God … perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.

VIDEOS by EXPERIENCINGGOD

2. C.S. Lewis: from theism to Christianity

lewis holy trinity churchC.S. Lewis: It must be understood that my conversion at that point was only to theism pure and simple. I knew nothing yet about the incarnation. The God to whom I surrendered was sheerly non-human.

C.S. Lewis: [Reading from Chesterton] A great man knows he is not God and the greater he is, the better he knows it. The gospels declare that this mysterious maker of the world has visited his world in person. The most that any religious prophet has said was that he was the true servant of such a being. But if the creator was present in the daily life of the Roman empire, that is something unlike anything else in nature. It is the one great startling statement that man has made since he spoke his first articulate word. It makes dust and nonsense of comparative religion.

C.S. Lewis: As I drew near to Christianity, I felt a resistance almost as strong as my previous resistance to theism. As strong but shorter lived for I understood it better. But each step, one had less chance to call one’s soul one’s own.

C.S. Lewis: What Tolkien showed me was this — that if I met the idea of sacrifice in a pagan story I didn’t mind it at all — I was mysteriously moved by it. The reason was that in pagan stories I was prepared to feel the myth as profound. Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth.

C.S. Lewis: I know very well when but hardly how the final step was taken. I went with my brother to have a picnic at Whipsnade Zoo. We started in fog, but by the end of our journey the sun was shining. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and when we reached the zoo I did. I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion. It was more like when a man, after a long sleep, becomes aware that he is now awake.

CLICK HERE and See also –

The Life of C S Lewis

lewis holy trinity church

See also John Piper’s

Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul

Learning from the Mind and Heart of C. S. Lewis

here – http://wp.me/p1eavz-4AY

Alister McGrath lectures:

Prof. Alister Mc Grath – C S Lewis: Reluctant Prophet at St. Paul’s London

VIDEO by StPaulsLondon by 7 April 2013 The Revd Prof Alister McGrath speaks on the life, faith and work of CS Lewis at St Paul’s Cathedral. Part of the St Paul’s Sunday Forum series of lectures with prominent Christian authors.

Alister McGrath on C.S. Lewis & the Postmodern Generation 50 years later (Christian Biography)

lewis

Biography snippets of Clive Staples Lewis, born in Belfast, Ireland 29th of November 1898 and died 22 November 1963.

A very interesting lecture, in which Dr. Alister McGrath gives some previously unknown details from C S Lewis’s life. Dr. McGrath (a former atheist, similar to C S Lewis himself) has written a biography for C. S. Lewis, for which he has done extensive research. I have met a few people who have been greatly assisted by Lewis in their search for God, while they were atheist. I have also seen college students greatly assisted by Lewis’s apologetics, especially Lewis’s book ‘Mere Christianity’,  so it a worthwhile biography to read up on and Dr. McGrath gives some detailed and personal insights into the man we now know as C S Lewis in the first video, following with a question and answer session in the second video.

Dr. McGrath explores some of the issues that Lewis engages, which remain important to us today. The theme of Dr. McGrath’s lecture is:

What does Lewis say to us today?

Dr. McGrath addresses 3 questions:

  1. So why does Lewis matter so much?
  2. What does he have to say to us today?
  3. Why does Dr. McGrath refer to Lewis as reluctant prophet?

The 4 themes of C S Lewis

(1) Christianity gives us a big picture

C S Lewis writes: „I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not only do I see it but by it I see everything else.” His point is that Christianity gives us this way of looking at things which helps them to come into focus. It gives us a panorama of reality  and it enables us to see what things are really like, and where we fit into things as well. And for Lewis, the ability of the Christian faith to make sense of things is a very important reason for thinking that it is true.

(2) The argument from desire

This is a quote from Lewis’s book ‘Mere Christianity’: „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.” Well, what does he mean by that? Let me try and explain. He’s saying that most of us have this experience of longing for something that really satisfies, or the sense that there has to be more than what we know, there’s something beyond us. And Lewis starts to argue like this. He argues that there’s:

  • Spiritual longing
  • A sense of emptiness
  • Something that nothing created or finite can satisfy
  • A longing for God

So we begin to ask questions like: If there’s something, and we found it and we began to make sense of things, it will bring satisfaction and fulfillment to our lives. And then Lewis argues that, really, nothing in this world, nothing that is created or finite seems able to satisfy the deepest longings of humanity, because in reality, these are longings for God. And Lewis’s argument is that this experience of longing, which is so difficult to satisfy, is really a longing for God, which we get muddled about and attach to something else.

This a quote from Pilgrim’s Regress: „The human soul was made to enjoy some object that is never fully given- nay, cannot even be imagined as given- in our present mode of subjective and spatio-temporal experience.” There is something we are meant to possess, to enjoy, and it’s not something in this world. But, our desires and longings help us realize that we are looking for something and that it is not to be found in this world. It lies beyond it.

This is brought up clearly, in what I think is some of Lewis’s best writing, preached in the University Church, Oxford, on 8 June 1941. Sermon: Weight of glory- Title comes from John Donne, who spoke of the ‘exceeding weight of divine glory’. In this sermon Lewis explores this idea of desire. What he is saying is this: We think that this- for example, the quest for beauty- or a really important relationship, that this is going to satisfy us, that somehow this is our destination of our quest for meaning and truth. But in reality it’s a signpost, pointing beyond itself. It’s not the signpost we’re looking for, it’s what it points to. And he argues like this:

„The books or the music which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.”

And so Lewis suggests that the things that create desire and longing- „like beauty, or the memory of past, these are good images of what we desire. In other words, not what we desire, but echoes of it or hints of it. But if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn them into dumb idols and they break the hearts of their worshippers.” So Lewis suggests that „they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not visited.” Lewis is saying that one of the things you and I can help people to do is to realize that Christianity makes sense of this longing and points towards the One who is able to satisfy, to fulfill these deepest yearnings and transform us. So, Lewis ends this sermon by talking about his hope for transformation:

At present, we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door… We cannot mingle with the splendors that we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”

(3) Lewis on Imagination and Stories

I think Lewis’s greatest contribution lies in his imagination, in his importance of stories. Even as a teenager Lewis realized the powerful appeal that stories made to the imagination. His conversion to Christianity was partly about discovering that Christianity told a „grand story’ that both made sense of things, and appealed deeply to his imagination.

(4) Translation

We need to translate the Gospel message into terms an audience can understand. Lewis is good on this. We’re coming up on Easter Day and we’re going to be using words like Atonement, Redemption, Salvation, and we all know that these are very rich and important words, but they’re words our culture does not necessarily understand. And so, we have to explain, unpack, translate these ideas for the benefit of our audience. For example, Paul talks with great excitement in Romans 5 about being justified by faith, but if you talk to your friends about justification, they will mean something like this: Justification is giving an excuse for being late at work, or it’s about things you do to the right hand margin on your word processor. So the important thing is how do we translate?

During World War II, Lewis began to speak to ground crews at Royal AIr Force bases. He had to learn how to express himself in terms that this audience could understand and appreciate. And he did it. That’s one of the reason his broadcast talks over the BBC in the 1940’s were so successful. They connected up with where people were.

C S Lewis's church Holy Trinity Headington

Photo from video – C S Lewis’s church Holy Trinity, Headington

This lecture was given at Lanier Theological Library. VIDEO by fleetwd1
This lecture by Dr Alister McGrath was sponsored by The Lanier Theological Library in Houston, TX and presented at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, TX, Saturday, March 23, 2012 titled: „C.S. Lewis and the Post Modern Generation: His Message 50 Years Later”.

Dr. Alister McGrath is a Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education at Kingʼs College London, and Head of its Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture. He is also Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Until 2008, he was Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University.

Dr. McGrath was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1953. He attended Methodist College, Belfast, in 1966 studying pure and applied mathematics, physics and chemistry. McGrath continued his education and eventually earned both a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and a Doctorate of Divinity from Oxford University. The interactions between these two areas of study—Christian theology and the natural sciences—have been a major theme of his research work.

Dr. Alister McGrath poses for a picture while ...

As a former atheist, McGrath is respectful, yet critical of scientific atheism. He has frequently engaged in debate and dialogue with leading atheists, including Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins. McGrath has explored Charles Darwinʼs role in atheist apologetics and other controversial concepts of atheism, such as the „meme” in recent atheist accounts of the origins of belief in God.

McGrath is working on many projects, including his research on the late C. S. Lewis and a major intellectual history of the Swiss Protestant theologian Emil Brunner. His new book to be published in March is entitled C. S. Lewis – A Life. Reluctant Prophet, Eccentric Genius. This biography will be supplemented by a collection of eight major academic essays on Lewis, to be published in May 2013. Other forthcoming books are the first in a five-volume series entitled „Christian Belief for Everyone” and a new textbook on Christian History.

For more infomation on the Lanier Theological Library:http://www.laniertheologicallibrary.org/ VIDEO by fleetwd1

Alister McGrath Q & A

  • Did C S Lewis doubt God when his wife died?
  • What would C S Lewis think about our current culture?
  • Do you have any idea why Lewis made the ruler of Narnia a woman?
  • Is there any author today that could carry on Lewis’s legacy of writing compelling fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature?
  • Has C S Lewis’s intellectual legacy done us any notable disservice?
  • How did Lewis’s Platonism influence his christianity?
  • Did Lewis continue his studies of Nordic Myth after his conversion?
  • Do any of his writings reveal any hesitations or change in his viewpoint?
  • What do you think of Lewis’s view of Scripture? (13:50)
  • Is it true that C S Lewis’s reputation is more admired in the US, while the British are more skeptical of him?
  • If someone has never read C S Lewis, where do you recommend they start?
  • Was Lewis willing to suspend some of his more orthodox views for the good of the story?
  • What story would you or Lewis use to explain justification in the 21st century?
  • C S Lewis operated from the margins of religious life. Why is he a central  figure now?
  • What would you say in regards to C S Lewis’ apologetics?
  • Could you speak to the correct order of Narnia books?

Related articles from this blog

From the C S Lewis Institute 6 videos- very, very interesting and from an extremely enjoyable lecturer:

More C. S. Lewis

  1. C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 1 – Men without chests
  2. C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 2 The Way
  3. C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 3

IN ROMANIAN:

Citeste-l pe C. S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

Născut în Irlanda în 1898, C.S. Lewis este educat la Colegiul Malvern timp de un an, după care își continuă studiile în particular. Obținând cea mai mare distincție de absolvire acordată de Universitatea Oxford (triple First), rămâne în cadrul Universității ca Fellow al Colegiului Magdalen, funcționând ca tutore, în perioada 1925-1954.În 1954 devine profesor de literatură medievală și renascentistă la Universitatea Cambridge. Cursurile ținute de el, remarcabile și populare, au influențat în mod profund și durabil generații de studenți.Ateu până la maturitate, C.S. Lewis își descrie convertirea în Surprised by Joy (Surprins de bucurie): „În 1919, pe la Rusalii, m-am dat bătut și am admis că Dumnezeu este Dumnezeu… eram, poate, cel mai descurajat și mai nehotărât convertit din toată Anglia.” Această experiență a fost cea care l-a făcut să înțeleagă nu doar apatia, ci și refuzul activ de a accepta religia; pornind de aici, în ipostaza de scriitor creștin înzestrat cu o minte excepțional de ascutită și de logică și cu un stil lucid și înviorător, C.S. Lewis a fost fără egal.The Problem of Pain (Problema durerii), The Screwtape Letters (Scrisorile lui Sfredelin sau Sfaturile unui diavol bătrân către unul mai tânăr), Mere Christianity (Creștinism. Pur și simplu), The Four Loves (Cele patru iubiri), precum și postuma Prayer: Letters to Malcom (Rugăciune: Scrisori către Malcom) nu sunt decât o parte dintre operele sale cele mai vândute. A scris și cărti pentru copii și science-fiction, în paralel cu multele sale lucrări de critică literară. Operele sale sunt cunoscute de milioane de oameni, pretutindeni în lume, prin traduceri.S-a stins din viață în 22 noiembrie 1963, în locuința sa din Oxford.

Cateva citate din scrierile lui C.S. Lewis:

Creştinismul, dacă este fals, nu are nicio importanţă,
iar dacă este adevărat, are o importanţă covârşitoare.
Dar nu poate avea o importanţă moderată.

Dumnezeu nu ne poate oferi fericire şi pace în afara Lui, pentru că ele nu se află acolo. Nu există aşa ceva.

Există două feluri de oameni: cei care îi spun lui Dumnezeu “Facă-se voia Ta” şi cei cărora Dumnezeu le spune “Bine, acţionează după cum crezi”.

Creştinul are un mare avantaj faţă de ceilalţi oameni, nu pentru că este mai puţin căzut decât ei, nici pentru că este destinat să trăiască într-o lume căzută, ci pentru că ştie că este un om căzut într-o lume căzută.

În realitate, rugăciunile noastre care par cele mai proaste, pot fi, în ochii lui Dumnezeu, cele mai bune. Mă refer la acelea care sunt cel mai puţin susţinute de sentimente evlavioase. Pentru că ele s-ar putea să vină de la un nivel mai adânc decât sentimentele. Dumnezeu pare să comunice cu noi extrem de profund atunci când ne prinde, cum s-ar spune, cu garda jos.

Fa click aici sa citesti cartea – https://rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/crestinismul-redus-la-esenta-de-c-s-lewis/

Fa click aici pentru carte format audio– https://rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/c-s-lewis-carte-audio-crestinismul-redus-la-esenta/

Fa click aici pentru mai multe carti de C S Lewis si alti autori crestini (in Limba Romana si Engleza) – https://rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com/collection-of-online-books/

C.S. Lewis – God as God (2) God’s Love and Do I have a right to be happy?

Read part 1 here – 

God can be no other than what he is: absolute goodness, justice, mercy and love. And he is all of these supereminently, as we have just said.

Being all-sufficient in himself, God still loves into existence the superfluous, since he is almost overflowing with goodness. This is not to be understood in the Neo-Platonic sense, for God is under no compulsion to create anything. He creates and conserves in existence so that he can love all created being.

God’s Love

This brings us into consideration of God’s love. We are not to construe it as something sentimental, or something which excites our feelings. We have a Father in heaven, but not a benevolent grandfather who simply wants everyone to have a good time on earth. God’s love is pure, spiritual and intellectual, and quite unlike the love we generally experience.; there may be almost an element of ferocity about it. In a word, God is exacting in his love, we are happy only insofar as this is compatible with praising, reverencing and serving him. He is not concerned about people’s saying at the end of the day,”A good time was had by all”. He is not to be mistaken for mere kindness, because he has loved us to the utmost.

In The Problem of Pain (Chapter 3), we come face to face with God’s love and human suffering. Each one of us is a divine work of art, and the Heavenly Artist has paid us the „intolerable compliment” of creating us in his image. Nor will he rest until he has accomplished his will, until each of us grows in Godlikeness according to the plan he has laid out for us. We may not altogether like the infinite care and patience which go into our artistry, but Lewis points out that in wishing for a less glorious and a less arduous destiny, we are asking not for more love but for less.

Our God is a consuming fire, a tremendous lover, a passionate seeker after every individual. He is the Lord of the terrible aspect, and to look upon him face to face is to die. We must not sentimentalize this God.

We are not the center of the universe; God is its center and all things- man included- exist for God. Hence God cannot allow us to remain as we are; his love constantly seeks to enlarge the mansion of our soul, for it is in this mansion that he intends to live himself. In answer to the question, Have I a right to be happy/ God replies no. Sin has marred our character to such an extent that God must cajole, woo threaten, refashion, and redesign our inner selves to his satisfaction, not our own. To struggle against this, to throw up blocks, to fail to surrender to the fort, is once again to ask for less love, not for more.

Excerpt from The Theology of C.S. Lewis  (Pleasures Forevermore by John Randolph Willis, Chapter 2)

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C.S. Lewis – (Essential Reading) God as God (1) God’s omnipotence

Excerpt from The Theology of C.S. Lewis  (Pleasures Forevermore by John Randolph Willis, Chapter 2):

C.S. Lewis never intends in his writing to make startling or original contributions to Christian thought; his aim throughout is to present „mere Christianity” from the standpoint of the layman. We can begin to examine Lewis’ writings by seeing how he views the one God, the „I Am” of Exodus 3:14. For Lewis, God is definitely not the amorphous spirit of pantheism. He strongly emphasizes the fact that God is concrete and individual. „He is ‘absolute being’– or rather the Absolute Being– in the sense that He alone exists in His own right. But there are things which God is not. In that sense He has a determinate character. Thus He is righteous, not a-moral; creative, not inert. The Hebrew writings here observe an admirable balance. Once God says simply I AM, proclaiming the mystery of self existence. But times without number He says, ‘I am the Lord’– I, the ultimate Fact, have this determinate character and not that. And men are exhorted to „know the Lord,” to discover and experience this particular character.”

To stand before God is to be confronted by the incomprehensible. „He is unspeakable, not by being indefinite but by being too definite for the unavoidable vagueness of language… Gramatically the things we say of Him are ‘metaphorical’ : but in a deeper sense it is our physical and psychic energies that are mere ‘metaphors’ of the real Life which is God.”

Yet in the devotional and moral life, we constantly bump up against something concrete, and the growing emptiness of our idea of God is gradually filled with something definite.

What definite qualities does Lewis attribute to God?

First, he declares that God is omnipotent. But we must realize in what this omnipotence consists. It does not mean that God can do things which are intrinsically impossible. To ask if God could make a stone too heavy for Him to lift is ti ask a meaningless question. Of course it is possible for God to perform miracles, but He can never perform nonsense.

What God does perform always is the work of a consummate artist…  The majesty of God is only dimly reflected in his creation of the universe, created freely out of absolutely nothing. Using the triune formula od Father, Redeemer, and indwelling Comforter, Lewis shows that the universe is small indeed compared with Ultimate Reality; so how much smaller earth is when compared to the universe, and man when compared to the earth.

Important attributes of God are His justice and mercy, which are one in him but different from our perspective. Lewis indicates that such attributes can be predicted from the human standpoint because they have a foundation in reality. He likewise treats of God’s wrath and God’s pardon in this way. Of course applied to God these are metaphors; but we must be aware what Scripture tells us, and certainly God’s anger can be a consuming fire.  Yet the reverse side of the coin is his mercy, which is tender, loving and forgiving to the blotting out of sins. What God is in actuality is simply beyond human imagination. God is his mercy and much more; God is his justice and much more than „eye hath seen or ear heard” (1 Cor. 2:9).

In Reflections of the Psalms, Lewis writes, „There were in the 18th century terrible theologians who held that ‘God did not command certain things because they are right, but certain things are right because God commanded them.’  To make the position perfectly clear, one of them even said that God has, as it happens, commanded us to love Him and one another, He might equally well have commanded us to hate Him and one another, and hatred would then have been right.” Lewis rejects this voluntaristic approach to God. God can be no other than what he is: absolute goodness, justice, mercy and love. And he is all of these supereminently, as we have just said.

Being all-sufficient in himself, God still loves into existence the superfluous, since he is almost overflowing with goodness. This is not to be understood in the Neo-Platonic sense, for God is under no compulsion to create anything. He creates and conserves in existence so that he can love all created being.

to be continued…. coming up tomorrow God’s love and ‘Do I have a right to be happy?

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C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 2 The Way

Read Chapter 1 here – Men without chests

Read Chapter 3 here – Abolition of Man    Read Appendix here

In Chapter 2 CS Lewis addresses the fact that if children don’t believe in the Natural Law, in moral absolutes, in ought and ought not –  then humane society will not survive – unless maybe the educators can find some other basis for ethical behavior.  Lewis considers two such bases.  (1) They can say that certain kinds of behavior are „useful” to society and others are not, and so, on this factual basis, try to build an ethical system.  But this will not work because anyone can ask, „Why ought I be the one who has to deny himself something for the sake of others?”  The educators cannot logically say, „You ought to because…,” since they have already ruled out the Natural Law, which is the sole source of such imperative statements as „One ought to be willing to lay down one’s life to defend one’s country,” etc.  (2)  The educators can say that „instinct” (whatever that is) could be the basis for ethical behavior.  This will not work, either, because we have many instincts and they conflict with one another – plus, it is questionable whether there really is an instinct to protect and preserve one’s society.

Chapter 2

THE WAY

It is upon the Trunk that a gentleman works.

—Analects of Confucius, I.2

The practical result of education in the spirit of The Green Book must be the destruction of the society which accepts it. But this is not necessarily a refutation of subjectivism about values as a theory. The true doctrine might be a doctrine which if we accept we die. No one who speaks from within the Tao could reject it on that account: ‘εν δε φαει και ‘δλεσσου. But it has not yet come to that. There are theoretical difficulties in the philosophy of Gaius and Titius.

However subjective they may be about some traditional values, Gaius and Titius have shown by the very act of writing The Green Book that there must be some other values about which they are not subjective at all. They write in order to produce certain states of mind in the rising generation, if not because they think those states of mind intrinsically just or good, yet certainly because they think them to be the means to some state of society which they regard as desirable. It would not be difficult to collect from various passages in The Green Book what their ideal is. But we need not. The important point is not the precise nature of their end, but the fact that they have an end at all. They must have, or their book (being purely practical in intention) is written to no purpose. And this end must have real value in their eyes. To abstain from calling it good and to use, instead, such predicates as ‘necessary’ or ‘progressive’ or ‘efficient’ would be a subterfuge. They could be forced by argument to answer the questions ‘necessary for what?’, ‘progressing towards what?’, ‘effecting what?’; in the last resort they would have to admit that some state of affairs was in their opinion good for its own sake. And this time they could not maintain that ‘good’ simply described their own emotion about it. For the whole purpose of their book is so to condition theyoung reader that he will share their approval, and this would be either a fool’s or a villain’s undertaking unless they held that their approval was in some way valid or correct.

In actual fact Gaius and Titius will be found to hold, with complete uncritical dogmatism, the whole system of values which happened to be in vogue among moderately educated young men of the professional classes during the period between the two wars.1 Their scepticism about values is on the surface: it is for use on other people’s values; about the values current in their own set they are not nearly sceptical enough. And this phenomenon is very usual. A great many of those who ‘debunk’ traditional or (as they would say) ‘sentimental’ values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process. They claim to be cutting away the parasitic growth of emotion, religious sanction, and inherited taboos, in order that ‘real’ or ‘basic’ values may emerge. I will now try to find out what happens if this is seriously attempted.

Let us continue to use the previous example—that of death for a good cause—not, of course, because virtue is the only value or martyrdom the only virtue, but because this is the experimentum crucis which shows different systems of thought in the clearest light. Let us suppose that an Innovator in values regards dulce et decorum and greater love hath no man as mere irrational sentiments which are to be stripped off in order that we may get down to the ‘realistic’ or ‘basic’ ground of this value. Where will he find such a ground?

First of all, he might say that the real value lay in the utility of such sacrifice to the community. ‘Good’, he might say, ‘means what is useful to the community.’ But of course the death of the community is not useful to the community—only the death of some of its members. What is really meant is that the death of some men is useful to other men. That is very true. But on what ground are some men being asked to die for the benefit of others? Every appeal to pride, honour, shame, or love is excluded by hypothesis. To use these would be to return to sentiment and the Innovator’s task is, having cut all that away, to explain to men, in terms of pure reasoning, why they will be well advised to die that others may live. He may say ‘Unless some of us risk death all of us are certain to die.’ But that will be true only in a limited number of cases; and even when it is true it provokes the very reasonable counter question ‘Why should I be one of those who take the risk?’

At this point the Innovator may ask why, after all, selfishness should be more ‘rational’ or ‘intelligent’ than altruism. The question is welcome. If by Reason we mean the process actually employed by Gaius and Titius when engaged in debunking (that is, the connecting by inference of propositions, ultimately derived from sense data, with further propositions), then the answer must be that a refusal to sacrifice oneself is no more rational than a consent to do so. And no less rational. Neither choice is rational—or irrational—at all. From propositions about fact alone nopractical conclusion can ever be drawn. This will preserve society cannot lead to do this except by the mediation of society ought to be preserved. This will cost you your life cannot lead directly to do not do this: it can lead to it only through a felt desire or an acknowledged duty of self-preservation. The Innovator is trying to get a conclusion in the imperative mood out of premisses in the indicative mood: and though he continues trying to all eternity he cannot succeed, for the thing is impossible. We must therefore either extend the word Reason to include what our ancestors called Practical Reason and confess that judgements such as society ought to be preserved (though they can support themselves by no reason of the sort that Gaius and Titius demand) are not mere sentiments but are rationality itself; or else we must give up at once, and for ever, the attempt to find a core of ‘rational’ value behind all the sentiments we have debunked. The Innovator will not take the first alternative, for practical principles known to all men by Reason are simply the Tao which he has set out to supersede. He is more likely to give up the quest for a ‘rational’ core and to hunt for some other ground even more ‘basic’ and ‘realistic’.

This he will probably feel that he has found in Instinct. The preservation of society, and of the species itself, are ends that do not hang on the precarious thread of Reason: they are given by Instinct. That is why there is no need to argue against the man who does not acknowledge them. We have an instinctive urge to preserve our own species. That is why men ought to work for posterity. We have no instinctive urge to keep promises or to respect individual life: that is why scruples of justice and humanity—in fact the Tao—can be properly swept away when they conflict with our real end, the preservation of the species. That, again, is why the modern situation permits and demands a new sexual morality: the old taboos served some real purpose in helping to preserve the species, but contraceptives have modified this and we can now abandon many of the taboos. For of course sexual desire, being instinctive, is to be gratified whenever it does not conflict with the preservation of the species. It looks, in fact, as if an ethics based on instinct will give the Innovator all he wants and nothing that he does not want.

In reality we have not advanced one step. I will not insist on the point that Instinct is a name for we know not what (to say that migratory birds find their way by instinct is only to say that we do not know how migratory birds find their way), for I think it is here being used in a fairly definite sense, to mean an unreflective or spontaneous impulse widely felt by the members of a given species. In what way does Instinct, thus conceived, help us to find ‘real’ values? Is it maintained that we must obey Instinct, that we cannot do otherwise? But if so, why are Green Booksand the like written? Why this stream of exhortation to drive us where we cannot help going? Why such praise for those who have submitted to the inevitable? Or is it maintained that if we do obey Instinct we shall be happy and satisfied? But the very question we are considering was that of facing death which (so far as the Innovator knows) cuts off every possible satisfaction: and if we have an instinctive desire for the good of posterity then this desire, by the very nature of the case, can never be satisfied, since its aim is achieved, if at all, when we are dead. It looks very much as if the Innovator would have to say not that we must obey Instinct, nor that it will satisfy us to do so, but that we ought to obey it.2

But why ought we to obey Instinct? Is there another instinct of a higher order directing us to do so, and a third of a still higher order directing us to obey it?—an infinite regress of instincts? This is presumably impossible, but nothing else will serve. From the statement about psychological fact ‘I have an impulse to do so and so’ we cannot by any ingenuity derive the practical principle ‘I ought to obey this impulse’. Even if it were true that men had a spontaneous, unreflective impulse to sacrifice their own lives for the preservation of their fellows, it remains a quite separate question whether this is an impulse they should control or one they should indulge. For even the Innovator admits that many impulses (those which conflict with the preservation of the species) have to be controlled. And this admission surely introduces us to a yet more fundamental difficulty.

Telling us to obey Instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people’. People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war. If it is held that the instinct for preserving the species should always be obeyed at the expense of other instincts, whence do we derive this rule of precedence? To listen to that instinct speaking in its own cause and deciding it in its own favour would be rather simple-minded. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of all the rest. By the very act of listening to one rather than to others we have already prejudged the case. If we did not bring to the examination of our instincts a knowledge of their comparative dignity we could never learn it from them. And that knowledge cannot itself be instinctive: the judge cannot be one of the parties judged; or, if he is, the decision is worthless and there is no ground for placing the preservation of the species above self-preservation or sexual appetite.

The idea that, without appealing to any court higher than the instincts themselves, we can yet find grounds for preferring one instinct above its fellows dies very hard. We grasp at useless words: we call it the ‘basic’, or ‘fundamental’, or ‘primal’, or ‘deepest’ instinct. It is of no avail. Either these words conceal a value judgement passed upon the instinct and therefore not derivablefrom it, or else they merely record its felt intensity, the frequency of its operation and its wide distribution. If the former, the whole attempt to base value upon instinct has been abandoned: if the latter, these observations about the quantitative aspects of a psychological event lead to no practical conclusion. It is the old dilemma. Either the premisses already concealed an imperative or the conclusion remains merely in the indicative.3

Finally, it is worth inquiry whether there is any instinct to care for posterity or preserve the species. I do not discover it in myself: and yet I am a man rather prone to think of remote futurity—a man who can read Mr Olaf Stapledon with delight. Much less do I find it easy to believe that the majority of people who have sat opposite me in buses or stood with me in queues feel an unreflective impulse to do anything at all about the species, or posterity. Only people educated in a particular way have ever had the idea ‘posterity’ before their minds at all. It is difficult to assign to instinct our attitude towards an object which exists only for reflective men. What we have by nature is an impulse to preserve our own children and grandchildren; an impulse which grows progressively feebler as the imagination looks forward and finally dies out in the ‘deserts of vast futurity’. No parents who were guided by this instinct would dream for a moment of setting up the claims of their hypothetical descendants against those of the baby actually crowing and kicking in the room. Those of us who accept the Tao may, perhaps, say that they ought to do so: but that is not open to those who treat instinct as the source of value. As we pass from mother love to rational planning for the future we are passing away from the realm of instinct into that of choice and reflection: and if instinct is the source of value, planning for the future ought to be less respectable and less obligatory than the baby language and cuddling of the fondest mother or the most fatuous nursery anecdotes of a doting father. If we are to base ourselves upon instinct, these things are the substance, and care for posterity the shadow—the huge, flickering shadow of the nursery happiness cast upon the screen of the unknown future. I do not say this projection is a bad thing: but then I do not believe that instinct is the ground of value judgements. What is absurd is to claim that your care for posterity finds its justification in instinct and then flout at every turn the only instinct on which it could be supposed to rest, tearing the child almost from the breast to creche and kindergarten in the interests of progress and the coming race.

Matt 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

The truth finally becomes apparent that neither in any operation with factual propositions nor in any appeal to instinct can the Innovator find the basis for a system of values. None of the principles he requires are to be found there: but they are all to be found somewhere else. ‘All within the four seas are his brothers’ (xii. 5) says Confucius of the Chün-tzu, the cuor gentil or gentleman. Humani nihil a me alienum puto says the Stoic. ‘Do as you would be done by,’ says Jesus. ‘Humanity is to be preserved,’ says Locke.4 All the practical principles behind the Innovator’s case for posterity, or society, or the species, are there from time immemorial in the Tao. But they are nowhere else. Unless you accept these without question as being to the world of action what axioms are to the world of theory, you can have no practical principles whatever. You cannot reach them as conclusions: they are premisses. You may, since they can give no ‘reason’ for themselves of a kind to silence Gaius and Titius, regard them as sentiments: but then you must give up contrasting ‘real’ or ‘rational’ value with sentimental value. All value will be sentimental; and you must confess (on pain of abandoning every value) that all sentiment is not ‘merely’ subjective. You may, on the other hand, regard them as rational—nay as rationality itself—as things so obviously reasonable that they neither demand nor admit proof. But then you must allow that Reason can be practical, that an ought must not be dismissed because it cannot produce some is as its credential. If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all.

To some it will appear that I have merely restored under another name what they always meant by basic or fundamental instinct. But much more than a choice of words is involved. The Innovator attacks traditional values (the Tao) in defence of what he at first supposes to be (in some special sense) ‘rational’ or ‘biological’ values. But as we have seen, all the values which he uses in attacking the Tao, and even claims to be substituting for it, are themselves derived from the Tao. If he had really started from scratch, from right outside the human tradition of value, no jugglery could have advanced him an inch towards the conception that a man should die for the community or work for posterity. If the Tao falls, all his own conceptions of value fall with it. Not one of them can claim any authority other than that of the Tao. Only by such shreds of the Tao as he has inherited is he enabled even to attack it. The question therefore arises what title he has to select bits of it for acceptance and to reject others. For if the bits he rejects have no authority, neither have those he retains: if what he retains is valid, what he rejects is equally valid too.

The Innovator, for example, rates high the claims of posterity. He cannot get any valid claim for posterity out of instinct or (in the modern sense) reason. He is really deriving our duty to posterity from the Tao; our duty to do good to all men is an axiom of Practical Reason, and our duty to do good to our descendants is a clear deduction from it. But then, in every form of theTao which has come down to us, side by side with the duty to children and descendants lies the duty to parents and ancestors. By what right do we reject one and accept the other? Again, the Innovator may place economic value first. To get people fed and clothed is the great end, and in pursuit of its scruples about justice and good faith may be set aside. The Tao of course agrees with him about the importance of getting the people fed and clothed. Unless the Innovator were himself using the Tao he could never have learned of such a duty. But side by side with it in theTao lie those duties of justice and good faith which he is ready to debunk. What is his warrant? He may be a Jingoist, a Racialist, an extreme nationalist, who maintains that the advancement of his own people is the object to which all else ought to yield. But no kind of factual observation and no appeal to instinct will give him a ground for this option. Once more, he is in fact deriving it from the Tao: a duty to our own kin, because they are our own kin, is a part of traditional morality. But side by side with it in the Tao, and limiting it, lie the inflexible demands of justice, and the rule that, in the long run, all men are our brothers. Whence comes the Innovator’s authority to pick and choose?

Since I can see no answer to these questions, I draw the following conclusions. This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgements. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained. The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. There has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgement of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) ‘ideologies’, all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they possess. If my duty to my parents is a superstition, then so is my duty to posterity. If justice is a superstition, then so is my duty to my country or my race. If the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a real value, then so is conjugal fidelity. The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

Does this mean, then, that no progress in our perceptions of value can ever take place? That we are bound down for ever to an unchanging code given once for all? And is it, in any event, possible to talk of obeying what I call the Tao? If we lump together, as I have done, the traditional moralities of East and West, the Christian, the Pagan, and the Jew, shall we not find many contradictions and some absurdities? I admit all this. Some criticism, some removal of contradictions, even some real development, is required. But there are two very different kinds of criticism.

A theorist about language may approach his native tongue, as it were from outside, regarding its genius as a thing that has no claim on him and advocating wholesale alterations of its idiom and spelling in the interests of commercial convenience or scientific accuracy. That is one thing. A great poet, who has ‘loved, and been well nurtured in, his mother tongue’, may also make great alterations in it, but his changes of the language are made in the spirit of the language itself: he works from within. The language which suffers, has also inspired the changes. That is a different thing—as different as the works of Shakespeare are from Basic English. It is the difference between alteration from within and alteration from without: between the organic and the surgical. In the same way, the Tao admits development from within. There is a difference between a real moral advance and a mere innovation. From the Confucian ‘Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you’ to the Christian ‘Do as you would be done by’ is a real advance. The morality of Nietzsche is a mere innovation. The first is an advance because no one who did not admit the validity of the old maxim could see reason for accepting the new one, and anyone who accepted the old would at once recognize the new as an extension of the same principle. If he rejected it, he would have to reject it as a superfluity, something that went too far, not as something simply heterogeneous from his own ideas of value. But the Nietzschean ethic can be accepted only if we are ready to scrap traditional morals as a mere error and then to put ourselves in a position where we can find no ground for any value judgements at all. It is the difference between a man who says to us: ‘You like your vegetables moderately fresh; why not grow your own and have them perfectly fresh?’ and a man who says, ‘Throw away that loaf and try eating bricks and centipedes instead.’

Those who understand the spirit of the Tao and who have been led by that spirit can modify it in directions which that spirit itself demands. Only they can know what those directions are. The outsider knows nothing about the matter. His attempts at alteration, as we have seen, contradict themselves. So far from being able to harmonize discrepancies in its letter by penetration to its spirit, he merely snatches at some one precept, on which the accidents of time and place happen to have riveted his attention, and then rides it to death—for no reason that he can give. From within the Tao itself comes the only authority to modify the Tao. This is what Confucius meant when he said ‘With those who follow a different Way it is useless to take counsel’.5 This is why Aristotle said that only those who have been well brought up can usefully study ethics: to the corrupted man, the man who stands outside the Tao, the very starting point of this science is invisible.6 He may be hostile, but he cannot be critical: he does not know what is being discussed. This is why it was also said ‘This people that knoweth not the Law is accursed’7 and ‘He that believeth not shall be damned’.8 An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut. He can say nothing to the purpose. Outside the Tao there is no ground for criticizing either the Tao or anything else. In particular instances it may, no doubt, be a matter of some delicacy to decide where the legitimate internal criticism ends and the fatal external kind begins. But wherever any precept of traditional morality is simply challenged to produce its credentials, as though the burden of proof lay on it, we have taken the wrong position. The legitimate reformer endeavours to show that the precept in question conflicts with some precept which its defenders allow to be more fundamental, or that it does not really embody the judgement of value it professes to embody. The direct frontal attack ‘Why?’—’What good does it do?’—’Who said so?’ is never permissible; not because it is harsh or offensive but because no values at all can justify themselves on that level. If you persist in that kind of trial you will destroy all values, and so destroy the bases of your own criticism as well as the thing criticized. You must not hold a pistol to the head of the Tao. Nor must we postpone obedience to a precept until its credentials have been examined. Only those who are practising the Tao will understand it. It is the well-nurtured man, the cuor gentil, and he alone, who can recognize Reason when it comes.9 It is Paul, the Pharisee, the man ‘perfect as touching the Law’ who learns where and how that Law was deficient.10 In order to avoid misunderstanding, I may add that though I myself am a Theist, and indeed a Christian, I am not here attempting any indirect argument for Theism. I am simply arguing that if we are to have values at all we must accept the ultimate platitudes of Practical Reason as having absolute validity: that any attempt, having become sceptical about these, to reintroduce value lower down on some supposedly more ‘realistic’ basis, is doomed. Whether this position implies a supernatural origin for the Tao is a question I am not here concerned with.

Yet how can the modern mind be expected to embrace the conclusion we have reached? This Tao which, it seems, we must treat as an absolute is simply a phenomenon like any other—the reflection upon the minds of our ancestors of the agricultural rhythm in which they lived or even of their physiology. We know already in principle how such things are produced: soon we shall know in detail: eventually we shall be able to produce them at will. Of course, while we did not know how minds were made, we accepted this mental furniture as a datum, even as a master. But many things in nature which were once our masters have become our servants. Why not this? Why must our conquest of nature stop short, in stupid reverence, before this final and toughest bit of ‘nature’ which has hitherto been called the conscience of man? You threaten us with some obscure disaster if we step outside it: but we have been threatened in that way by obscurantists at every step in our advance, and each time the threat has proved false. You say we shall have no values at all if we step outside the Tao. Very well: we shall probably find that we can get on quite comfortably without them. Let us regard all ideas of what we ought to do simply as an interesting psychological survival: let us step right out of all that and start doing what we like. Let us decide for ourselves what man is to be and make him into that: not on any ground of imagined value, but because we want him to be such. Having mastered our environment, let us now master ourselves and choose our own destiny.

This is a very possible position: and those who hold it cannot be accused of self-contradiction like the half-hearted sceptics who still hope to find ‘real’ values when they have debunked the traditional ones. This is the rejection of the concept of value altogether. I shall need another lecture to consider it.


NOTES

1 The real (perhaps unconscious) philosophy of Gaius and Titius becomes clear if we contrast the two following lists of disapprovals and approvals.

A. Disapprovals: A mother’s appeal to a child to be ‘brave’ is ‘nonsense’ (Green Book, p. 62). The reference of the word ‘gentleman’ is ‘extremely vague’ (ibid.) ‘To call a man a coward tells us really nothing about what he does’ (p. 64). Feelings about a country or empire are feelings ‘about nothing in particular’ (p. 77).

B. Approvals: Those who prefer the arts of peace to the arts of war (it is not said in what circumstances) are such that ‘we may want to call them wise men’ (p. 65). The pupil is expected ‘to believe in a democratic community life’ (p. 67). ‘Contact with the ideas of other people is, as we know, healthy’ (p. 86). The reason for bathrooms (‘that people are healthier and pleasanter to meet when they are clean’) is ‘too obvious to need mentioning’ (p. 142). It will be seen that comfort and security, as known to a suburban street in peace-time, are the ultimate values: those things which can alone produce or spiritualize comfort and security are mocked. Man lives by bread alone, and the ultimate source of bread is the baker’s van: peace matters more than honour and can be preserved by jeering at colonels and reading newspapers.

2 The most determined effort which I know to construct a theory of value on the basis of ‘satisfaction of impulses’ is that of Dr I. A. Richards (Principles of Literary Criticism, 1924). The old objection to defining Value as Satisfaction is the universal value judgement that ‘it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied’. To meet this Dr Richards endeavours to show that our impulses can be arranged in a hierarchy and some satisfactions preferred to others without an appeal to any criterion other than satisfaction. He does this by the doctrine that some impulses are more ‘important’ than others—an important impulse being one whose frustration involves the frustration of other impulses. A good systematization (i.e. the good life) consists in satisfying as many impulses as possible; which entails satisfying the ‘important’ at the expense of the ‘unimportant’. The objections to this scheme seem to me to be two:

(I) Without a theory of immortality it leaves no room for the value of noble death. It may, of course, be said that a man who has saved his life by treachery will suffer for the rest of that life from frustration. But not, surely, frustration of all his impulses? Whereas the dead man will have no satisfaction. Or is it maintained that since he had no unsatisfied impulses he is better off than the disgraced and living man? This at once raises the second objection.

(2) Is the value of a systematization to be judged by the presence of satisfactions or the absence of dissatisfactions? The extreme case is that of the dead man in whom satisfactions and dissatisfactions (on the modern view) both equal zero, as against the successful traitor who can still eat, drink, sleep, scratch and copulate, even if he cannot have friendship or love or self-respect. But it arises at other levels. Suppose A has only 500 impulses and all are satisfied, and that B has 1200 impulses whereof 700 are satisfied and 500 not: which has the better systematization? There is no doubt which Dr Richards actually prefers—he even praises art on the ground that it makes us ‘discontented’ with ordinary crudities! (op. cit., p. 230). The only trace I find of a philosophical basis for this preference is the statement that ‘the more complex an activity the more conscious it is’ (p. 109). But if satisfaction is the only value, why should increase of consciousness be good? For consciousness is the condition of all dissatisfactions as well as of all satisfactions. Dr Richards’s system gives no support to his (and our) actual preference for civil life over savage and human over animal—or even for life over death.

3 The desperate expedients to which a man can be driven if he attempts to base value on fact are well illustrated by Dr C. H. Waddington’s fate in Science and Ethics. Dr Waddington here explains that ‘existence is its own justification’ (p. 14), and writes: ‘An existence which is essentially evolutionary is itself the justification for an evolution towards a more comprehensive existence’ (p. 17). I do not think Dr Waddington is himself at ease in this view, for he does endeavour to recommend the course of evolution to us on three grounds other than its mere occurrence, (a) That the later stages include or ‘comprehend’ the earlier, (b) That T. H. Huxley’s picture of Evolution will not revolt you if you regard it from an ‘actuarial’ point of view, (c)That, any way, after all, it isn’t half so bad as people make out (‘not so morally offensive that we cannot accept it’, p. 18). These three palliatives are more creditable to Dr Waddington’s heart than his head and seem to me to give up the main position. If Evolution is praised (or, at least, apologized for) on the ground of any properties it exhibits, then we are using an external standard and the attempt to make existence its own justification has been abandoned. If that attempt is maintained, why does Dr Waddington concentrate on Evolution: i.e., on a temporary phase of organic existence in one planet? This is ‘geocentric’. If Good = ‘whatever Nature happens to be doing’, then surely we should notice what Nature is doing as a whole; and Nature as a whole, I understand, is working steadily and irreversibly towards the final extinction of all life in every part of the universe, so that Dr Waddington’s ethics, stripped of their unaccountable bias towards such a parochial affair as tellurian biology, would leave murder and suicide our only duties. Even this, I confess, seems to me a lesser objection than the discrepancy between Dr Waddington’s first principle and the value judgements men actually make. To value anything simply because it occurs is in fact to worship success, like Quislings or men of Vichy. Other philosophies more wicked have been devised: none more vulgar. I am far from suggesting that Dr Waddington practises in real life such grovelling prostration before the fait accompli. Let us hope that Rasselas,chap. 22, gives the right picture of what his philosophy amounts to in action. (‘The philosopher, supposing the rest vanquished, rose up and departed with the air of a man that had co-operated with the present system.’)

4 See Appendix.

Analects of Confucius, xv. 39.

Eth. Nic. 1095 b, 1140 b, 1151 a.

7 John 7:49. The speaker said it in malice, but with more truth than he meant. Cf. John 13:51.

8 Mark 16:6

Republic, 402 A

10 Philippians 3:6


Transcriber’s Notes

Cuor gentil – a noble heart

‘εν δε φαει και ‘δλεσσου – ‘en de faei kai dlessou’ roughly „in the light you perceive it [light]” (?)

Dulce et decorum – sweet and seemly, from the Roman saying dulce et decorum est pro patria mori It is sweet and seemly to die for one’s country.

Humani nihil a me alienum puto from Terence: homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto: „I am a man; and nothing of man is foreign to me.”

Nietzschean ethic – an ‘ends justify the means,’ ‘win at any cost’ philosophy; the starting point his philosophy is his own desire instead of reality; he is a nihilist.

Olaf Stapledon – a famous science fiction writer (1886-1950) whose most famous works include Last and First MenDarkness and the Light, and Star Maker.

Theist – a believer in one or more gods, e.g. Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Zoroastrians


The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

Posted by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, March 2002, because the book is only in print sporadically

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/
augustine@columbia.edu

Last update: March 6, 2002

The BBC is the reason C S Lewis wrote „Mere Christianity”

You can listen to the surviving B.B.C. tapes here – C.S.Lewis BBC surviving audio tapes from the 1940′s, or read his Rationality of the Christian worldview here, and read some related articles at the bottom of this post.

I came across this information from Walter Hooper of Oxford, who was C S Lewis’s private secretary and contributed these bits to the preface of C.S. Lewis’s „Pleasures Forevermore” (Loyola University Press, 1983):

Although his readers don’t appear to notice any „change of voice” in his books, some– such as the Narnian Chronicles– were written simply because he enjoyed it. A few were written at the request of others, and Mere Christianity is one of them.

In fact, it didn’t originate in his mind as a book at all. What happened was that the British Broadcasting Corporation asked him to give a series of four fifteen-minute talks over the radio. The impact of those talks was so great that the B.B.C. asked for another series, and another, until the end– del, there was Mere Christianity. 

However, from the beginning there was a lot of talk going on behind the scenes. It was mainly about how, in such short radio talks, Lewis could– as was the intention of the BBC– reach the „Great British Public.” A „public” made up– as it is in the United States– of Christians of all the denominations and most Christians who are not Christians at all. Because of this, Lewis knew that his only chance of helping anyone was to confine his broadcast to those elements which all Christians believe.

Most people had never heard anything like it and they were entranced. „Entranced” because, odd as it may seem, there had hitherto been few broadcasts and few books about those elements in Christianity which unite us, but a great many about those things which (however true and important) divide us.

The „cathedral” intention behind Mere Christianity is very clearly defined in Lewis’s preface to that book. He said:

„Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbors was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times. I had more than one reason for thinking this. In the first place, the questions which divide Christians from one another often involve points of high Theology or even of ecclesiastical history which ought never to be treated except by real experts. I should have been out of my depths in such waters: more in need of help myself than able to help others. And secondly, I think we must admit that the discussion of these disputed points has no tendency at all to bring an outsider into the Christian fold. So long as we write and talk about them we are much more likely to deter him from any Christian communion than to draw him into our own. Our divisions should never be discussed except in the presence of those who have already come to believe that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is His only Son.

Related articles

C.S. Lewis – Three kinds of men – Which type is you?

photo – Cleveland Baptist Church (.org)

An interesting illustration from C.S. Lewis’s short essay, “Three Kinds of Men,” from his collection of essays, Present Concerns (pp. 9-10) via Gabi Bogdan:

There are three kinds of people in the world:

  1. The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Men and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.
  2. In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them – the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope like other taxpayers that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time „on parade” and time „off parade”, „in school” and „out of school”.
  3. But, the third class is of those who can say like St. Paul that for them „to live is Christ”. These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of „Self” and God” by the simple expedient of rejecting the Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned around, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

Yikes. The second example sounds like a lot of us at some point in our life, even after our conversion.  Upon doing some honest introspection, we find that at times we were in fact „begrudging”  and „disobedient” Christ followers. May God help us to live for Christ, and rejoice in the time spent in Him and for Him as Paul instructs us in Ephesians 1:21! Thanks to Gabi B. for the quote via iPad.

C.S.Lewis BBC surviving audio tapes from the 1940’s

Uploaded by on Dec 31, 2011

In this rare audio from his BBC broadcasts of the 1940s, C.S. Lewis explains God’s relationship to time and space, discusses the Christian consistency with reality of an ideal that mankind is striving for, but can never find on its own.

God and Time – CS Lewis BBC Broadcast

The New Man in Christ – CS Lewis BBC Broadcast

Uploaded by on Dec 31, 2011

In this rare BBC broadcast from the 1940s, C.S. Lewis discusses what the new man was intended be like, arguing that the new kind of man has already appeared in Jesus Christ. He argues that this doesn’t happen through evolution of religion because it is not something coming out of blind progression, but something coming down from God in light and power. In his lucid unfolding of Christian theology, Lewis explains that becoming this new man requires losing ourselves and taking on the nature of Christ, drawing incredible parallels to the impact of salt in bringing out the full taste in other things.

Related posts

Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul Learning from the Mind and Heart of C. S. Lewis – Desiring God

Born November 29, 1898 was one Clive Staples Lewis. His friends called him Jack. We know him as C. S. Lewis. He died just shy of 65 years old on November 22, 1963, the same day as John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Davdi Mathis over at Desiring God writes a birthday note along with a link to this John Piper tribute to Lewis in his biographical address „Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul.”

1) It Seems I Shouldn’t Find Lewis So Helpful

My approach in this talk is personal. I am going to talk about what has meant the most to me in C. S. Lewis—how he has helped me the most. And as I raise this question, as I have many times over the years, the backdrop of the question becomes increasingly urgent: Why has he been so significant for me, even though he is not Reformed in his doctrine, and could barely be called an evangelical by typical American uses of that word?

He doesn’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, 1 and defaults to logical arguments more naturally than to biblical exegesis. He doesn’t treat the Reformation with respect, but thinks it could have been avoided, and calls aspects of if farcical. 2 He steadfastly refused in public or in letters to explain why he was not a Roman Catholic but remained in the Church of England. 3 He makes room for at least some people to be saved through imperfect representations of Christ in other religions. 4 He made a strong logical, but I think unbiblical, case for free will to explain why there is suffering in the world. 5 He speaks of the atonement with reverence, but puts little significance on any of the explanations for how it actually saves sinners. 6

In other words, Lewis is not a writer to which we should turn for growth in a careful biblical understanding of Christian doctrine. There is almost no passage of Scripture on which I would turn to Lewis for exegetical illumination. A few, but not many. He doesn’t deal with many. If we follow him in the kinds of mistakes that he made (the ones listed above), it will hurt the church and dishonor Christ. His value is not in his biblical exegesis. Lewis is not the kind of writer who provides substance for a pastor’s sermons. If a pastor treats Lewis as a resource for doctrinal substance, he will find his messages growing thin, interesting perhaps, but not with much rich biblical content.

The Ironic Effect of Reading Lewis

So you see the kind of backdrop there is for this message. How and why has C. S. Lewis been so helpful to me when I think he is so wrong on some very important matters? Why don’t I put Lewis in the same category as the so-called “emergent” writers? At one level, the mistakes seem similar. But when I pose the question that way, it starts to become pretty clear to me why Lewis keeps being useful, while I think the emergent voices will fade away fairly quickly.

In fact, I think posing the question this way not only explains why he has been so helpful to me, but also goes right to the heart of what the life and work of C. S. Lewis were about. There was something at the core of his work—of his mind—that had the ironic effect on me of awakening lively affections and firm convictions that he himself would not have held.

Something About Lewis

There was something about the way he read Scripture that made my own embrace of inerrancy tighter, not looser. There was something about the way he spoke of grace and God’s power that made me value the particularities of the Reformation more, not less. There was something about the way he portrayed the wonders of the incarnation that made me more suspicious of his own inclusivism, not less. There was something about the way he spoke of doctrine as the necessary roadmap that leads to Reality, 7 and the way he esteemed truth and reason and precision of thought, that made me cherish more, not less, the historic articulations of the biblical explanations of how the work of Christ saves sinners—the so-called theories of the atonement.

It may be that others have been drawn away by Lewis from these kinds of convictions and experiences. I doubt very seriously that more people on the whole have been weakened in true biblical commitments than have been strengthened by reading Lewis. I am sure it happens. I am sure that for many, for example, who have taken the road to Roman Catholicism away from evangelicalism, Lewis has played a part in that pilgrimage. He devoted his whole Christian life to defending and adorning what he called “mere Christianity”—“the Christian religion as understood ubique et ab omnibus [everywhere by everyone].” 8 “I have believed myself to be restating ancient and orthodox doctrines. . . . I have tried to assume nothing that is not professed by all baptized and communicating Christians.” 9 This means that he rarely tried to distance himself from Roman Catholicism or any other part of Christendom. He rarely spoke about any debates within Christianity itself. 10

A Pastoral Price to Pay

There is a price to pay when you set yourself this kind of agenda. You will almost certainly omit things essential to the gospel. Not that you yourself do not believe those things, but since virtually all important doctrines have been disputed from within the church (not just from outside), the effort to omit what’s disputed runs the risk of omitting what’s essential. We all should be warned about this, because the disputes in the New Testament letters themselves are virtually all disputes within the church, not with those outside. In the marketplace and the synagogue, Paul argued for the gospel with unbelievers. But in his letters, he defends and defines the heart of the gospel not by disputing with those outside the church, but with those inside the church. He did not consider these disputes—for example in Galatians—as peripheral skirmishes but rather as part of what “mere Christianity” actually is.  This dispute is what the Reformation was about.

Therefore, Lewis set himself a lifelong task that no pastor should follow—namely, to adorn and defend only those truths that he thought all Christians always and everywhere have believed. 11 Lewis was not a pastor. He was a professor of English Literature from 1924 to 1963, first at Oxford and then at Cambridge. He did not have to open the Scriptures week after week for a group of people over the course of 30 or 40 years. He didn’t have to explain to his flock the fullness of God’s written revelation. He was a scholar, a writer of science fiction, children’s books, poetry, essays, and apologetics. In these spheres, he chose his focus. He called it “mere Christianity.” Within that limited focus (which he would say is infinitely large), he fell short of saying many important things regarding the gospel of Christ. But if I focus not on what he failed to say, but on what he said and did, I find that even for me—for one who considers some doctrines to be crucial that he neglected—even for me, the blessings of his work have been incalculable.

2) Why Lewis Is So Helpful to Me

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Chuck Colson – How God turned around Nixon’s hatchet man

President Nixon meets with China's Communist P...

Nixon with China's Mao Tse Tung

This video is from Veritas Forum at www.veritas.org of Cambridge, Massachusetts (though they have offices across the country). Veritas Forums are university events that engage students and faculty in discussions about life’s hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus Christ to all of life. This is a great resource to help University Students and parents, and very worthy of our support.
If you are not familiar with Chuck Colson’s story you can read a short bio here. Today Chuck Colson, besides writing several books, in 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Program, which, together with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families, with ministry taking place in 113 countries around the globe.

Chuck Colson started adulthood as a lieutenant in the marines, fighting in the Korean War. Afterwards he went to law school at night while working as administrative assistant (one of the youngest at that time) to a U.S.Senator. In 1968 he left his law practice to serve in the Richard Nixon White House Administration (again as the youngest assistant ever) as Special Counsel(he was 38 years old). Colson ran the next presidential campaign for Nixon and Nixon won by the largest landslide vote victory to date, in 1972. At that point he decided that he wanted to return to his law practice, due to the exhaustion he experienced and he started to feel empty.

Chuck Colson grew up in as he calls it „Unitarian” New Egland. Yes he did go to Sunday school as a kid and learned all the lessons, and yes he was dragged to church, as he describes it, a few times, yet in his adulthood he did not even believe in the existence of God, let alonehis son Jesus Christ or the fact that man can have any kind of relationship with Him.

Mere Christianity

Image via Wikipedia

One day he walked into another White House aide’s office and Colson asked him why he seemed different, at which the aide replied that he had given his life to Christ and then asked to read him a chapter „VICE” from C S Lewis’s Christianity. Then he prayed with Colson. Colson walked out to his car, but could not drive away because he couldn’t see; he was crying so hard. He knew nothing of evangelicalism or of any sinner’s prayer-he just talked to God and that night he knew there was a God. The days to follow, the lawyer in him sat down with the Mere Christianity book and made 2 columns -pro and con, about different things he would investigate. At the end he could state that the reality of Jesus Christ’s life and work is more real than his own reality.

But, just then the Watergate scandal blows up and for the next year, Colson’s „conversion” is front page fodder for the Nation’s newspapers.

Here is Chuck Colson at Columbia University in 2008 talking to students and doing a Question & Answer session afterwards:

If you experience trouble-start video 5 seconds. Stop3-5 minutes and restart the play button. If your computer is slow, allow more time for each step.

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C.S Lewis – Mere Christianity Audiobook and a biographer’s lecture

Here is a sample clip of the audio book.

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1st collector for C.S Lewis – Mere Christianity (Part 1)
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One of C.S Lewis’ most influential pieces of work, Mere Christianity has become a corner stone of modern Christian apologetics. Originally broadcast on the radio as a lecture during World War Two, C.S Lewis would eventually turn the transcripts from the radio broadcast into three individual pamphlets, these in turn would be later compiled to create the iconic book that is ‘Mere Christianity’.

A former Atheist himself, Lewis once exclaimed „Had God designed the world, it would not be A world so frail and faulty as we see.”

Mere Christianity deals with the basic beliefs upheld by all Christians, and on purpose, Lewis avoids singling out any one denomination, instead focusing on fundamental teachings of the Christian faith.

This audio adaption is read aloud by Jeffrey Howard.

For full audiobook (in mp3 format) click here:

http://www.philvaz.com/CSLewisMereChristianityCOMPLETE.mp3

You can also view a C-Span author discussion here from Jan. 2006:

The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis

Cambridge Forum (video – 1 hour 7 minutes)

Professor Jacobs talked about his biography The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, published by HarperSanFrancisco. He outlined Oxford scholar and religious writer Lewis’s life, describing his writing of the children’s series The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as many books for adults on religious topics. He talked about the writer’s life and his influence on scholars around the world. After his presentation he answered audience members’ questions.

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Creştinismul redus la esenţe

Introducere
Prefaţă

CARTEA I
Binele şi răul ca indicii cu privire la semnificaţia universului
1. Legea Naturii Umane
2. Câteva obiecţii

3. Realitatea legii
4. Ce se ascunde în spatele legii
5. Avem motive să fim neliniştiţi

CARTEA A II-A
Ce cred creştinii
1. Concepţii rivale despre Dumnezeu
2. Invazia
3. Alternativa şocantă
4. Pocăitul perfect
5. Concluzie practică

CARTEA A III-A
Conduita creştină
1. Cele trei laturi ale moralităţii
2. „Virtuţile cardinale”
3. Moralitatea socială
4. Moralitate şi psihanaliză
5. Moralitatea sexuală
6. Căsătoria creştină
7. Iertarea
8. Păcatul cel mare
9. Dragostea
10. Speranţa
11. Credinţa
12. Credinţa

CARTEA A IV-A
Dincolo de personalitate: sau primii paşi în doctrina Trinităţii
1. Facere şi naştere
2. Dumnezeul în trei persoane
3. Timp şi dincolo de timp
4. Infecţia bună
5. Încăpăţânaţii soldaţi de plumb
6. Două observaţii
7. Hai să ne închipuim
8. Este creştinismul greu sau uşor?
9. Socotirea costului
10. Oameni buni sau oameni noi
11. Oamenii noi

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