Mere Christianity

Reviewing The Beliefs Of Christians As Highlighted In C.S Lewis Book Mere Christianity

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

The author, C. S. Lewis, gives an account of the Christian belief. Before writing this book he had used materials for an informal radio broadcast. The book is broken up into several chapters that are very detailed so that you understand each and every point Lewis is trying to make. Lewis starts this book with talking about the law of human nature. This talks about how humans behave in a certain way, and cannot figure out why. They know there is a right and wrong and they use this to their advantage. He talks about proving people really did know about the law of nature or they wouldnt know they were doing right or wrong. He discusses the Moral Law which he feels tells us the tune we have to play and that our instincts are merely the keys. This moral law isnt any one instinct to do right or wrong but rather directs these instincts.

In the early chapters it discusses the materialist view, which is the view that matter and space just happen to exist and always have existed, yet no one knows why. Then you have the religious view, which believes the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. Of course, Christians believe in the religious view and know that mind to be God in the third dimensional sense, which is later discussed.

Lewis then goes on to discuss what Christians believe and why Christians differ from other religions, but respect that religion because no matter what other things are involved everyone prays and worships the same God. Christianity believes God made the world and all its wonderful aspects, attributes, avenues, items, whatever. Lewis talks about Dualism, that being a belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them good and the other bad, example God verses devil. Lewis goes on to talk about how God leads each and everyone of us in our walk on earth and then onto everlasting life. He discusses that we all have rights and wrongs and that our choices are sometimes good and sometimes bad. He enforces our forgiving God. He says that in order for us to do right, we must sometimes do wrong, you must fail to eventually succeed. This teaches us and brings us closer to God. He discusses morality in several issues. One point he !

made was The Golden Rule of the New Testament, Do as you would be done by. He then goes on and talks about loving thy neighbor. He makes an interesting point that you dont love your neighbors actions but the actual being. He discusses the seven virtues, four of them are called Cardinal virtues and the remaining three are called Theological virtues. The cardinal virtues are ones that all civilized people recognize. The theological are ones that only Christians know about. Lewis discusses faith and its importance and then goes on to making and begetting. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. He uses this in reference to God creating his son and begetting refers to how he is trying to have all his children mirror him. Lewis follows up this book by mentioning that if we give up ourselves we will find our true selves. Lose your life and you will save it. Look in yourself and you will find all those negatives, but look for Christ and you will find him and all his wonderful offerings.

One strength of the book was how well Lewis supported his points. He would state a point, explain and then use a story to make his readers understand how this fits into their lives. I have heard love thy neighbor several hundred times in my life, but now I have an entirely different feeling of this statement. I did not understand the way in which I should separate ones actions from their being. Its not as hard for me to forgive an action as the entire persons makeup. Throughout the book I was convinced that Lewis is a Christian and believes in his faith whole-heartedly. He stresses the need for God and for one to understand how God affects each one of us. I was particularly gracious in the way he explained the three dimensions of God: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. His analogy of lines, boxes and dimensions helped me to see something Ive always believed.

I think Lewis had a hard life, especially in war times, and that he found comfort with God. I think that this book is almost like a testimonial with such a passion. I dont know if reading this book will make me a better person, even though I hope so, but I feel that I am closer in my understanding in certain areas with God. I feel like I have been given a different way to look at Gods teachings and I feel I can grow more in my own personal faith.

I cannot believe that this book was first on a radio program. I had to read several statements two and three times just to grasp the concept. I would have never been able to keep up if this was a radio show. It seems to me that the depth of this information is not radio friendly.

I felt that Lewis was very critical and lengthy when he discussed sex. I realize he is an older gentleman, but I felt that he made it sound dirty, deceitful and wrong. Children should not, in my view, be the only reason to be intimate with your partner. I feel the world today has over done it when they use sexual advertisement, comments, and ect. However God has given us that inner mechanism to filter the good and the bad out. One should ignore and turn the other cheek when another is doing wrong. Just because youre given information doesnt mean that you have to use it. Forgiveness will come to those who sin right?

I wasnt sure if the misspelling in the book was on purpose or something that is from the old school in English. It was quite irritating to me because Lewis seems so intellectual and misspelling shows ignorance. Luckily, this wasnt a big factor in my accepting the information I was given.

The one thing that leaves me thinking is the time issue. That God keeps no time, i.e. past, present, future. I know God is with me at any hour I need him, but Ive never really thought about him not being on the same time as me. If I am part of God I have a hard time separating that he doesnt have a schedule such as mine. Lewis made an excellent point that caught me off guard. I wasnt someone who questioned that God couldnt answer everyones prayers at one time. Now that Lewis has made a time issue I will reflect on this information and probably have a different outlook in my future with Gods frequent demands on his callers.

I really enjoyed this book, even though it made me go into waters that I did not know anything about. I accepted something, just because I had been told over and over in the past. Now I feel I have substantial evidence to back certain areas up. God is wonderful and everything he gives us is wonderful. I hope I can lead a life that gives back to God, since he has given so much to me.

The author, C. S. Lewis, gives an account of the Christian belief. Before writing this book he had used materials for an informal radio broadcast. The book is broken up into several chapters that are very detailed so that you understand each and every point Lewis is trying to make. Lewis starts this book with talking about the law of human nature. This talks about how humans behave in a certain way, and cannot figure out why. They know there is a right and wrong and they use this to their advantage. He talks about proving people really did know about the law of nature or they wouldnt know they were doing right or wrong. He discusses the Moral Law which he feels tells us the tune we have to play and that our instincts are merely the keys. This moral law isnt any one instinct to do right or wrong but rather directs these instincts.

In the early chapters it discusses the materialist view, which is the view that matter and space just happen to exist and always have existed, yet no one knows why. Then you have the religious view, which believes the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. Of course, Christians believe in the religious view and know that mind to be God in the third dimensional sense, which is later discussed.

Lewis then goes on to discuss what Christians believe and why Christians differ from other religions, but respect that religion because no matter what other things are involved everyone prays and worships the same God. Christianity believes God made the world and all its wonderful aspects, attributes, avenues, items, whatever. Lewis talks about Dualism, that being a belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them good and the other bad, example God verses devil. Lewis goes on to talk about how God leads each and everyone of us in our walk on earth and then onto everlasting life. He discusses that we all have rights and wrongs and that our choices are sometimes good and sometimes bad. He enforces our forgiving God. He says that in order for us to do right, we must sometimes do wrong, you must fail to eventually succeed. This teaches us and brings us closer to God. He discusses morality in several issues. One point he !

made was The Golden Rule of the New Testament, Do as you would be done by. He then goes on and talks about loving thy neighbor. He makes an interesting point that you dont love your neighbors actions but the actual being. He discusses the seven virtues, four of them are called Cardinal virtues and the remaining three are called Theological virtues. The cardinal virtues are ones that all civilized people recognize. The theological are ones that only Christians know about. Lewis discusses faith and its importance and then goes on to making and begetting. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. He uses this in reference to God creating his son and begetting refers to how he is trying to have all his children mirror him. Lewis follows up this book by mentioning that if we give up ourselves we will find our true selves. Lose your life and you will save it. Look in yourself and you will find all those negatives, but look for Christ and you will find him and all his wonderful offerings.

One strength of the book was how well Lewis supported his points. He would state a point, explain and then use a story to make his readers understand how this fits into their lives. I have heard love thy neighbor several hundred times in my life, but now I have an entirely different feeling of this statement. I did not understand the way in which I should separate ones actions from their being. Its not as hard for me to forgive an action as the entire persons makeup. Throughout the book I was convinced that Lewis is a Christian and believes in his faith whole-heartedly. He stresses the need for God and for one to understand how God affects each one of us. I was particularly gracious in the way he explained the three dimensions of God: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. His analogy of lines, boxes and dimensions helped me to see something Ive always believed.

I think Lewis had a hard life, especially in war times, and that he found comfort with God. I think that this book is almost like a testimonial with such a passion. I dont know if reading this book will make me a better person, even though I hope so, but I feel that I am closer in my understanding in certain areas with God. I feel like I have been given a different way to look at Gods teachings and I feel I can grow more in my own personal faith.

I cannot believe that this book was first on a radio program. I had to read several statements two and three times just to grasp the concept. I would have never been able to keep up if this was a radio show. It seems to me that the depth of this information is not radio friendly.

I felt that Lewis was very critical and lengthy when he discussed sex. I realize he is an older gentleman, but I felt that he made it sound dirty, deceitful and wrong. Children should not, in my view, be the only reason to be intimate with your partner. I feel the world today has over done it when they use sexual advertisement, comments, and ect. However God has given us that inner mechanism to filter the good and the bad out. One should ignore and turn the other cheek when another is doing wrong. Just because youre given information doesnt mean that you have to use it. Forgiveness will come to those who sin right?

I wasnt sure if the misspelling in the book was on purpose or something that is from the old school in English. It was quite irritating to me because Lewis seems so intellectual and misspelling shows ignorance. Luckily, this wasnt a big factor in my accepting the information I was given.

The one thing that leaves me thinking is the time issue. That God keeps no time, i.e. past, present, future. I know God is with me at any hour I need him, but Ive never really thought about him not being on the same time as me. If I am part of God I have a hard time separating that he doesnt have a schedule such as mine. Lewis made an excellent point that caught me off guard. I wasnt someone who questioned that God couldnt answer everyones prayers at one time. Now that Lewis has made a time issue I will reflect on this information and probably have a different outlook in my future with Gods frequent demands on his callers.

I really enjoyed this book, even though it made me go into waters that I did not know anything about. I accepted something, just because I had been told over and over in the past. Now I feel I have substantial evidence to back certain areas up. God is wonderful and everything he gives us is wonderful. I hope I can lead a life that gives back to God, since he has given so much to me.

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A Study Of C.S. Lewis View Of Christian Faith As Depicted In Mere Christianity

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Macmillan Publishers, 1952)

C. S. Lewis was an atheist for many years did not see the values of God. After discovering who God is and becoming a Christian, he discovered the value of life. He discovered that life is a journey that can eventually lead us to the ultimate source of joy. Mere Christianity unpacks the different important concepts of the Christian faith. This book is possibly C. S. Lewis’ most frequently read work, and was originally given as a series of broadcast talks during the Second World War. These talks were purposeful because they were used to simply “explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” C.S Lewis touches on many different topics in his writing such as, what Christians believe, Christian behavior, and the doctrine of the Trinity. These writings cover many different themes within these topics such as forgiveness, hope, faith, the Trinitarian God, and so on.

In chapter eleven, C.S. Lewis writes on the topic of faith. He splits the topic of faith into two separate ideas because he believes that the first scene of faith is belief by accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. The second sense of faith being “higher” sense of the Christian term because we discover this faith when we have tried our hardest to be Christian, and we find that we cannot. This leads us to find out what God truly cares about.

C. S. Lewis starts to talk about the process of accepting Christ. He states that one should only accept Christ if they truly believe it, not just because someone says it is true. However, after accepting Christ within a few weeks “There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief” (140). When trouble comes, C.S Lewis states that there will be the temptation that Christianity being untrue will not seem convenient. In these times, the emotions of that particular situation will overwhelm the belief in God. This will lead to disbelief and doubt. Faith is the art of holding on to things that your reason has once accepted even if moods have changed. However, C.S Lewis suggests that one remedy these issues by spending every day deliberately reflecting on some of the main doctrines of Christianity. Stating, “We have to be continually reminded of what we believe” (141). C.S Lewis declares this because he sees the significance of feeding this belief because it will not automatically stay in our mind. He continues on to say that faith in the second or higher sense is the most difficult thing to have. This is because; as much as we try to live a life worthy of His standards we realize that this is not possibly attainable. The chapter is important to the rest of the book because faith is the foundation of a Christian. This chapter also gives the rationality for faith and the reason to stick with it rather than falling away when life gets tough.

C.S Lewis makes a strong position in the third book in chapter three when he talks about how Christians should take a lead in the society with their faith in Christ. He summaries his position on social morality when he states:

“And when they say that the Church should give us a lead, they ought to mean that some Christians- those who happen to have the right talents- should be economists and statesmen, and that all economists and statesmen should be Christians, and that their whole efforts in politics and economics should be directed to putting “Do as you would be done by” into action. (83)

I find this position that he takes to be relevant even in the age of the church in today’s culture. He does this by telling his readers that Christians that have the talents to be economists and statesmen should be Christ-centered economists and statesmen. C.S Lewis is making the position that it is not just up to the preachers and clergy to impact others with Christianity but “the job is really on us, on the laymen” (83).

I find this position that he takes to be very simple yet profound. His position makes me think of Cairn Universities Approach to educating students to so there will be, “biblical integration, the cultivation of wisdom, and strategic engagement with the world.” This idea of compartmentalizing our faith is something relevant to Christians today; by trying to integrate “Do as you would be done by” into action in our daily walk of life. This is what Jesus commanded his disciples to do, to drop everything and to follow him. Disciples like Paul used his tent making to reach people for Christ. Paul was a missionary, but his trade was not mutually exclusive or compartmentalized from his ministry. The two roles were intertwined, and he was a tentmaker with the intention of his Christian faith. This can be seen throughout Mere Christianity in the other topics he speaks about such as, Christian Marriage, Forgiveness Charity, Hope, The New Man, and so on. Christians ought to take a lead in their society in these different facets of life. This idea of social morality should affect every aspect of our life and interactions with people in our lives. In result, this is why I believe his position is valid and important to our culture today.

Another topic that C.S Lewis touches on is in book four chapters eight titled “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?” I thought this was a fascinating expiation of how in once sense the Christian walk can be hard, yet easy. C.S Lewis describes this position when he writes have:

Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, “Take up your Cross”-in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in a concentration camp. Next minute he says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He means both. And one can just see why both are true (197).

He describes how Christ does not just want some of us but yet all of us. The Church in essence exists to draw men into Christ, to make little Christs. I agree with what C.S Lewis writes in this chapter because as I discover and read more of the New Testament I learn that when Jesus says to “follow me” he means all of who we are needs to follow him. Too often in our culture today, Christians give up on fully following Christ and don’t rely on trusting God for strength and help when someone times the faith can become difficult. As C.S Lewis said himself putting on Christ “…is the whole of Christianity” (195).

Throughout Mere Christianity, the idea of Christianity has to be about embracing Christ fully while embracing and counting the cost. For example in book three, he discusses that when we discover that our whole life is about God, we can truly start to work on obtaining life. C.S Lewis writes. “…God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins. The man is awake now” (143). In result, the idea that C.S Lewis proposes that Christianity is hard yet at the time easy is true because even though it may be hard to deny are on own flesh, Christ will give us the continual strength to overcome this desire.

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God and Religion in Mere Christianity

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

In an age of desperation and despair, C. S. Lewis was a beacon of hope. Lewis is one of the most famous Christian authors of the 20th century, responsible for works such as The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the subject of this essay, Mere Christianity. What began as a series of radio interviews eventually became a novel dedicated to one thing: the clarification of fundamental Christian beliefs. The purpose of this essay is to gain a basic understanding of Lewis’ work by looking at some of the key references in the novel.

In the middle of the book, Lewis summarizes his thoughts on Jesus Christ in one statement: “The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God.” This is a fact that the average Christian may overlook from time to time. As carnal and flawed humans, we like to think that we can solve problems of our own power. We constantly need a reminder that Jesus sacrificed infinitely so that we can live with Him for eternity. Once a Christian begins weaving this gratefulness and love into their daily actions, they will experience a paradigm shift in their lives. We need to remember that we love God because He first loved us.

Next, let’s examine Lewis’ standpoint on forgiveness, as he describes in Chapter 7: “God intends us to love all selves in the same way and for the same reason: but He has given us the sum ready worked out in our own case to show us how it works. We have then to go on and apply the rule to all the other selves. Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that that is how He loves us.”This passage moved me in particular because I spent the majority of the summer pondering the nature of forgiveness. To love someone even after seeing through their shell and discovering the flaws within… it made me appreciate Jesus’ undying love for me even more. But Lewis brought up a fact that I never even considered: our love for other people should be like the love we have for ourselves! We see every detail of our souls, and despite this, we still love ourselves purely because we are beings. Therefore, we should expand this love to our neighbors! It’s so perfectly simple, and yet, so profound a statement. Again, Lewis has taken a basic Christian principle and broken it down to a digestible level for the average Christian.

Lastly, Lewis affirms his views on humility: “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, if course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” The parable of the rich man and the beggar at the altar comes to mind. While the rich man brags about his “gifts” to God, the poor man cries out for forgiveness. This ties into the point I made with the first quote. The second that we place ourselves over God is the second that He will humble us in a major way. The true Christian places spiritual matters above anything he could ever accomplish by himself, and if nothing else, this is one of the largest messages that C.S. Lewis has conveyed through his work.

By magnifying ourselves, we only lose focus of the sight that God wants us to behold. Only through allowing Him to work through our lives can we ever find true purpose and love!

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The Christian Life: Joy Or Holy Discontent

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

As a Christian, I have known the joy, peace, and love that the Holy Spirit gives. But there are times when I am confronted with my own and the world’s sin and am disappointed, angry, and filled with a holy discontent. Although these emotions may seem contradictory, they are a blessing. As a Christian, I know that I need God’s saving grace and am filled with thanksgiving for my salvation. Realizing that I am a sinner and my only hope is that Jesus Christ is my savior, I want to live with a deep gratitude for His saving grace. This gratitude leads me to serve God in all aspects of life, from home, work, school, and the community at large. This call to action is caused by acknowledging God’s love for me and my desire to witness to the world of this fantastic truth.

The mission statement of Trinity Christian College states that “God calls each of us to participate together in spreading His kingdom. We equip students to understand how their talents, knowledge, and calling add to this community and how they can boldly carry that with them into God’s world. ” The task of equipping students to witness to the world calls for a holy discontent. Witnessing is not only the desire to save others, but it is foremost the desire to focus the desire of this world to God and His glory. When understanding the glory of God is disregarded, it gives Christians more boldness.

In the community, I have had the opportunity to volunteer for over four years at a service outreach called Mission Vida Nueva. This outreach helps feed and clothe those in need but also helps feed souls with Bible lessons for all ages. I have seen how reaching out to those in need is a blessing to others, but I too feel blessed. My myopic views of life are refocused and seeing God’s glory is clear. I have also had the opportunity to work for our local State Assemblywoman. Working in a world of politics and government has given me a vision of how government and other institutions work. Knowing that all authorities have been established by God, public service is called to help those in need and to be used for God’s glory. Although my position as an intern was limited, I was challenged to change my beliefs about homelessness. The whole world is fallen and as Christians, we are to be witnesses of God and help those in need. The problem of homelessness will never go away, but with effort, we can relieve those in need and more importantly, show them, Christ.

At school, I try to serve God by being in the Student Council and being the Senior Class President. These positions have allowed me to work with students, teachers, and staff members to bring about changes in chapels, social activities, and increase school spirit. This year I am the team captain of the football team. This is an honor but also very challenging because we have a non-Christian coach. Working with other seniors, we have made a point to pray, read the Bible, encourage, and guide one another. Through this effort, we have become a closer team than I have experienced in the past and we keep our focus on the true prize- the worship of God.

A holy discontent may require us to stand up even to our best friends. Two years ago, two of my friends wanted to use marijuana because they were feeling bored. Having heard my mother’s stories of her cousin’s use and death due to drugs, I was alarmed and angry. I spoke to them about how marijuana may not lead them to harder drugs, but the sin of boredom and selfishness would. I asked them how they would feel if their fathers become bored with their mothers. This question convicted one of my friends and within time, the other also repented. Confronting my friends caused a wide rift in our relationship that is still healing today. However, I am thankful that the Holy Spirit gave me the courage to confront sin. Fighting the world’s sin is challenging but talking to friends about sin is daunting.

Looking forward to the future, I desire a career in Forensic Science for either local law enforcement or the FBI. Shadowing a forensic scientist at his laboratory and in the courtroom, I was struck how sinful man is. Watching him testify in a multiple rape case and seeing the depravity of man, I was provoked to action. As Christians, we must be willing to testify to a lost world and with a holy discontent show God’s glory to a broken world. To pursue this goal, I wish to be part of a challenging academic environment. Receiving a Christian perspective of biology and chemistry will help me gain a better sense of the great Creator. Although the laboratories at a large state university may be more impressive, I never want to lose sight of what is truly impressive- the creating work of our Lord. With the academic rigors of Trinity Christian College, I know I will be well equipped to succeed in my chosen career or wherever the Lord leads me.

Being a child of God, I know that I will continue to grow in faith and be used by God for His purposes. With the assurance of salvation, no matter the circumstances, I am called to be content in His promises. With direction from professors, chapels, Bible studies, and friends I hope that as Proverbs 27:17 states, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so, a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. ” Seeking good counsel and friends, I hope that I can encourage and be encouraged in my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Depiction of Humanity in Mere Christianity

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

THE HUMAN RACE is haunted by the idea of doing what is right. In the first five chapters of Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis discusses the fact that people are always referring to some standard of behavior that they expect other people to know about. People are always defending themselves by arguing that what they have been doing does not really go against that standard, or that they have some special excuse for violating it.

What they have in mind is a law of fair play or a rule of decent behavior. Different people use different labels for this law–traditional morality or the Moral Law, the knowledge of right and wrong, or Virtue, or the Way. We choose to call it the Natural Law. This law is an obvious principle that is not made up by humans but is for humans to observe. Lewis claims that all over the earth humans know about this law, and all over the earth they break it; he further claims that there is Something or Somebody behind this Natural Law.

According to Lewis, we find out more about God from Natural Law than from the universe in general, just as we find out more about a person by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he built. We can tell from Natural Law that the Being behind the universe is intensely interested in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness. However, the Natural Law does not give us any grounds for assuming that God is soft or indulgent. Natural Law obliges us to do the straight thing no matter how painful or dangerous or difficult it is to do.

Natural Law is hard: “It is as hard as nails” (Mere Christianity 23). This last sentence also appears as the central thought in Lewis’s moving poem “Love.” In the first stanza he tells us how love is as warm as tears; in the second, how it is as fierce as fire; in the third, how it is as fresh as spring. And in the final stanza he tells us how love is as hard as nails. Love’s as hard as nails, Love is nails; Blunt, thick, hammered through the medial nerve of One Who, having made us, knew The thing He had done, Seeing(with all that is) Our cross, and His. (Poems 123)

In Lewis’s first chronicle of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, this hardness of the love of God was predicted by the lion Aslan when he promised to save Edmund from the results of treachery. He said “All shall be done. But it may be harder than you think”(104). When he and the White Witch discussed her claim on Edmund’s life, she referred to the law of that universe as the Deep Magic. Aslan would not consider going against the Deep Magic; instead, he gave himself to die in Edmund’s place, and the next morning came back to life. He explained to Susan that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a far deeper magic that she did not know. This deeper magic says that when a willing victim is killed in place of a traitor, death itself would start working backwards. The deepest magic worked toward life and goodness. In Narnia, and in this world as well, if the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness all our efforts and hopes are doomed.

But if the universe is ruled by perfect goodness, says Lewis, we are falling short of that goodness all the time; we are not good enough to consider ourselves allies of perfect goodness (Mere 4). In Narnia Edmund fell so far short of goodness that he finally realized with a shock of despair that he needed forgiveness.

At the end of the chapter entitled “Right and Wrong As A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe” in Mere Christianity, Lewis claimed that until people repent and want forgiveness, Christianity won’t make sense. Christianity explains how God can be the impersonal mind behind the Natural Law and yet also be a Person. It tells us how, since we cannot meet the demands of the law, God Himself became a human being to save us from our failure.

Lewis was of course aware that the presence of natural and moral evil in the world makes the governance of the world by absolute goodness seem questionable, to say the least. He understood Housman in his bitter complaint against “whatever brute and blackguard made the world.” But Lewis asks by what standard the creator is judged a blackguard. The very lament for Moral law or rejection of Moral Law itself implies a Moral Law. Lewis was deeply concerned about the fact that many people in this century are losing their belief in Natural Law. He spoke about this in the Riddell Memorial Lectures given at the University of Durham, published in 1947 as The Abolition of Man.

In Abolition he used “the Tao” as a shorthand term for the Natural Law or First Principle. A clarification may be helpful. The term “Tao” in the West is most often associated with Chinese Taoism. According to its scripture, the Tao Te Ching, the Tao (though ineffable) can best be described with words such as “the Flow,” “the way things change,” “the Life,” “the Source.” Its locus is first of all in nature. To follow the Tao is indeed to live morally, for it requires respect for the lowly and avoidance of oppression or pride. However, the Tao is ultimately a way of accepting what is, whether tending toward life or death. Confucianists see the locus of the Tao as first of all in human society, expressed primarily in the respect of inferiors for patriarchal superiors, the responsibility of superiors for inferiors, and the subordination of the individual to the welfare of the group.

Neither of these uses quite corresponds to what Lewis seems to intend in Abolition. Perhaps the Chinese concept that comes closest to Lewis’s apparent intent would be “The Way of Heaven.” Lewis claimed in Abolition that until quite recent times everyone believed that objects could merit our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt. It was assumed that some emotional reactions were more appropriate than others.

This conception is vividly represented in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; Edmund had inappropriate emotional responses from the very beginning. His brother and sisters imagined pleasant creatures they would like to meet in the woods, and Edmund hoped for foxes; but Lewis changed Edmund’s choice to snakes for readers of the Macmillan version in the United States. In both versions, when the children met the wise old professor, Edmund laughed at his looks. When Edmund met the White Witch, his initial fear quickly turned to trust; and when she gave him a choice of foods, he stuffed himself with Turkish Delight candy. His attitude toward his sister Lucy was resentful and superior; he was even suspicious of the good Robin and Beaver who came to guide the children to safety. Instead of noticing the Beaver’s house, he noticed the location of the Witch’s castle in the distance. When the name Aslan was first spoken to the four children, they all had wonderful feelings except Edmund; he had a sensation of mysterious horror. Later events would educate Edmund to respond as the others did.

Lewis pointed out that according to Aristotle the aim of education, the foundation of ethics, was to make a pupil like and dislike what he ought. According to Plato, we need to learn to feel pleasure at pleasant things, liking for likeable things, disgust for disgusting things, and hatred for hateful things. In early Hindu teaching righteousness and correctness corresponded to knowing truth and reality. Psalm 119 says the law is “true.” The Hebrew word for truth here is “emeth,” meaning intrinsic validity, rock-bottom reality, and a firmness and dependability as solid as nature.

This meaning is reflected in the final book of Narnia, The Last Battle, where Lewis introduced a young man named Emeth who had grown up in an oppressive country where people worship the evil deity Tash. In spite of his upbringing, Emeth was a man of honor and honesty who sought what was good. He died worshipping Tash and found himself in the presence of Aslan instead. He responded with reverence and delight. All that he thought he was doing for Tash could be counted as service to Aslan instead. He was one of Aslan’s friends long before he knew it because he liked what was likeable and hated what was hateful.

Lewis was alarmed by all the people in our day who deny that some things are inherently likeable, debunking traditional morality and the Natural Law, thinking that there can be innovation in values. Some of them try to substitute necessity, progress or efficiency for goodness. But in fact necessity, progress or efficiency have to be related to a standard outside themselves to have any meaning. In many cases that standard will be, in the last analysis, the preservation of the person who thinks of himself as a moral innovator, or the preservation of the society of his choice. Such people direct their scepticism toward any values but their own, disparaging other values as “sentimental” (Abolition 19).

But Lewis’s analysis shows that if Natural Law is sentimental, all value is sentimental. No factual propositions such as “our society is in danger of extinction” can give any basis for a system of values; no observations of instinct such as “I want to prolong my life” give any basis for a system of values. Why is our society valuable? Why is my life worth preserving? Only the Natural Law, asserting that human life is of value, gives us a basis for a coherent system of values.

“If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved,” Lewis claimed. “If nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all” (27). He means that if we do not accept Natural Law as self-evident and obligatory for its own sake, then all a person’s conceptions of value fall away. There are no values that are not derived from Natural Law. Anything that is judged good is such because of values in the Natural Law. The concept of goodness springs from no other source.

Thus, modern innovations in ethics are just shreds of the old Natural Law, sometimes isolated and exaggerated. If any values at all are retained, the Natural Law is retained. According to Lewis, there never has been and never will be a radically new value or value system. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of inventing a new primary color.

Admittedly, there are imperfections and contradictions in historical manifestation and interpretations of Natural Law. Some reformers help us to improve our perceptions of value. But only those who live by the Law know its spirit well enough to interpret it successfully. People who live outside the Natural Law have no grounds for criticizing Natural Law or anything else. A few who reject it intend to take the logical next step as well: they intend to live without any values at all, disbelieving all values and choosing to live their lives according to their whims and fancies.

Lewis’s poem “The Country of the Blind,” published in Punch in 1951, presents an image of people who have come to this. He describes what it would be like to live as a misfit with eyes in a country of eyeless people who no longer believe that vision ever existed.

This poem tells of “hard” light shining on a whole nation of eyeless men who were unaware of their handicap. Blindness had come on gradually through many centuries. At some transitional stage a few citizens remained who still had eyes and vision after most people were blind. The blind were normal and up-to-date. They used the same words that their ancestors had used, but no longer knew their meaning. They spoke of light still, meaning an abstract thought. If one who could see tried to describe the grey dawn or the stars or the green-sloped sea waves or the color of a lady’s cheek, the blind majority insisted that they understood the feeling the sighted one expressed in metaphor. There was no way he could explain the facts to them. The blind ridiculed such a person who took figures of speech literally and concocted a myth about a kind of sense perception that no one has ever really had.

If one thinks this is a far-fetched picture, Lewis concluded, one need only go to famous men today and try to talk to them about the truths of Natural Law which used to stand huge, awesome, and clear to the inner eye.

One of those famous men is B. F. Skinner, who answered in his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity that the abolition of the inner man and traditional morality is necessary so that science can prevent the abolition of the human race. Lewis had already exclaimed in Abolition, “The preservation of the species?–But why should the species be preserved?” (40)

Skinner does not provide an answer, but welcomes Lewis’s scientific “Controllers” who aim to change and dehumanize the human race in order more efficiently to fulfill their purposes.

Lewis satirized this kind of progress in his poem “Evolutionary Hymn,” which appeared in The Cambridge Review in 1957. Using Longfellow’s popular hymn stanza form from “Psalm of Life,” Lewis exclaimed: What do we care about wrong or justice, joy or sorrow, so long as our posterity survives? The old norms of good and evil are outmoded. It matters not if our posterity turns out to be hairy, squashy, or crustacean, tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless. “Goodness is what comes next.” His conclusion is that our progeny may be far from pleasant by present standards; but that matters not, if they survive.

Lewis has often been carelessly accused of being against science. In fact, he gives us an admirable scientist in Bill Hingest in That Hideous Strength. Significantly, Hingest was murdered by order of the supposed scientists who directed the NICE. The enemy is not true science, which is fueled by a love of truth, but that applied science whose practitioners are motivated by a love of power. In Lewis’s opinion the technological developments that are called steps in Man’s Conquest of Nature in fact give certain men power over others. Discarding Natural Law will always increase the dangers of having some people control others. Only Natural Law provides human standards which over-arch rulers and ruled alike. Lewis went so far as to claim, “A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.” (Abolition46)

The Magician’s Nephew, the tale of the creation of Narnia, gives us two characters who exemplify the Controllers–Jadis and Uncle Andrew Ketterley. Both claimed to be above Natural Law; they had “a high and lonely destiny.” Jadis was a monarch and Uncle Andrew was a magician, but both were strongly suggestive of modern science gone wrong. They both held that common rules are fine for common people, but that singular great people must be free-to experiment without limits in search of knowledge, to seize power and wealth.

The result was cruelty and destruction. In contrast, the wise men of old had sought to conform the soul to reality, and the result had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue.

Two examples from Lewis’s verse illustrate this traditional wisdom. The1956 poem “After Aristotle” praises virtue, stating that in Greece men gladly toiled in search of virtue as their most valuable treasure. Men would willingly die or live in hard labor for the beauty of virtue. Virtue powerfully touched the heart and gave unfading fruit; virtue made those who love her strong.

A second example is “On a Theme from Nicolas of Cusa,” published in the Times Literary Supplement in 1955. In the first stanza Lewis notes how physical foods are transformed by our bodies when we assimilate them; in the second, he points out that when we assimilate goodness and truth they are not transformed, but we are.

At the end of Abolition Lewis implores his readers to pause before considering Natural Law only one more accident of human history in a wholly material universe. To “explain away” this transcendent reality is perhaps to explain away all explanations. To “see through” the Natural Law is the same as not to see at all.

The idea that some things are inherently good and others are not is also the basis for Lewis’s approach to literature in An Experiment in Criticism. His thesis is that the work of art, and particularly the literary work, is to be received for its own sake, not used for other purposes. Each detail is to be savored and, if good, enjoyed. We are to look at the work, not to use it as a mirror to reflect ourselves and our own fantasies or as a lens through which we look at the world.

This principle is a particular application of the Natural Law. We approach a work of literature, as we might a person or flower, with the assumption that here is something good for its own sake, something worth attending to. After we have looked at it attentively, objectively, either our efforts will have been rewarded or we may decide it is not of much value after all; but in any case we will have given it a fair try, done it justice.

In Experiment Lewis contrasts the principle of the inherent value of works of literature with the habits of people who use literature (and thus misuse it), who prostitute the work to some other purpose.

The unliterary read a work only for the excitement they can get from the plot (as in an adventure story), for the provocation and satisfaction of their curiosity (as in a detective story), or for vicarious emotional fulfillment (as in a love story). Such readers use literature much as a child uses a toy, or a worshiper a crucifix: as a starting point for a journey inward or beyond. Unlike the child or the worshiper, who cherish their object and use it many times over, the unliterary usually use a story only once; then it is used up, discarded.

There are also users among the literary. There are the status seekers, who read the academically fashionable literature in order to impress themselves and others. There are the self-improvers, whose concern with their mental enrichment takes the place of a focus on the work itself.

And there are the wisdom-seekers, who value a work for the Statement about Life that it presents. But, says Lewis, works of art do not give us adequate world views. Too much selection is involved. In life, suffering is not often grand and noble and attributable to Tragic Flaws; matters do not end at points of satisfying finality, but go drizzling on. Works of literature may in fact make us wiser, but that is really incidental to their true function; and the wisdom we think came from a particular Great Work may in fact have come largely from within ourselves. Wisdom seeking is carried to absurdity in a particularly keen group he calls the Vigilants (he is surely referring to F.R. Leavis and friends) who will place their stamp of approval only on those few works that express their own conception of how life should be lived. They form a kind of Committee of Public Safety, lopping a new head every month.

By contrast with the users, the receivers surrender to a work of literature, getting themselves out of the way, attending closely to each part and its relationship to other parts, for the time being taking the author’s view point as their own. Their refusal of a subjective reading enables them to enlarge the narrow prison of the self and see with others’ eyes. The temporary annihilation of the self that takes place actually serves to heal the loneliness of the self. Lewis overtly compares the process to what happens in the pursuit of knowledge, or of justice, or the experience of love: we temporarily reject the facts as they are for us in favor of the facts as they are. In the work of literature we are experiencing the (morally) good or evil data, the (aesthetically) good or poor data, that really are out there and really possess the qualities we perceived. Lewis does not deny that our perception and judgment are sometimes flawed. But good and bad are real.

Lewis’s aesthetic provides a necessary and refreshing corrective to rigorously dutiful approaches that have ruined the enjoyment of literature for many from student days onward. For those Christians to whom literary pleasures have seemed frivolous or dangerous temptations that might lead away from the Straight Path, Lewis affirms their goodness. He also exposes the sort of single-issue criticism that darkens counsel by words without knowledge. Unless we can put ourselves to one side for a time and see what is actually in the text, we ought not to say anything about a work; and in many instances we might be better off not reading it at all.

Having gratefully accepted Lewis’s basic aesthetic enterprise, we must express a few reservations. Of course it is true that any work of imaginative literature is too selective to present an adequate philosophy of life. But much the same could be said of any essay or multi-volumed work in discursive prose. Any time we want to speak of the whole, of universals (or the absence thereof), we must be selective. Most formal treatises on Being,

Becoming or Causality leave out the terror and the joy of the world. The supposedly universal human experience of Reality discussed in nearly all of theology turns out to be male reality. Humans are limited; we may intend the universal, but any reflection upon it is bound to be limited.

The need for selectivity does not prohibit a work of literature from being intended, or taken, as a dramatized world view. This is particularly evident when a work gives support to oppressive social structures. For example, a story whose few Jewish characters are rapacious schemers or (if admirable)get baptized, may well give generous minds such as Lewis’s the enlarging experience of finding out what it is like to be anti-Semitic.

Unfortunately, it will also cause certain readers to come away with sharpened convictions that the Jewish Conspiracy is the fountainhead of the world’s evil. Likewise, a work whose achieving and admirable characters are all male, with its females frothy, manipulative, passive, victimized, and/or marginal, is saying something about the relative value of male and female.

Lewis in fact acknowledges, in an exchange of letters in Theology(1939-1940), that there are (morally) bad books that corrupt people by making false values attractive (Christian Reflections 30-35). He does not refer specifically to fiction, nor does he exclude it. Surely, then a (morally) bad work of literature can be bad because it presents a dangerously false view of life, quite possibly by its selections. In contrast, a (morally) good work of literature can present true values. There is no reason why we cannot receive such a work with diligent and delighted care, and also use it as a parable. Surely what is objectionable is, in Kant’s language, to make the work a means only and not an end also. It is ironic that Lewis should have rejected the concept of the literary work as a parable, in view of the fact that his own novels (especially the Narnian tales) are parables of such enormous power and wisdom.

This, of course, is not to say that every work of literature offers a world view. The comedy is not necessarily saying that life is finally a joke, nor is the whodunit perforce telling us that the ills of the world have a neat and gratifying solution right at hand, if we could only be perceptive enough to see. Even Freud realized that sometimes a cigar is just a good cigar.

We have affirmed, with minor reservations, Lewis’s reasoning that a work of literature possesses value in itself. Now we turn back to his thesis of intrinsic value as applied to all of life, his corrective to a totally relativistic value (or rather non value) system. Sensitive persons who have felt their meaning-world collapse around them know how dehumanizing felt meaninglessness is. Lewis knew whereof he spoke. (People who experience this collapse without pain are even more dehumanized.) As to the end result of consistent subjectivism, the world of the Controllers, Lewis’s portraits of Jadis and the directors of the NICE tell us more vividly than his discursive prose just how nightmarish such a world would be.

Within the context of a basic agreement, once more we offer a qualifier. Consistent and total subjectivism we certainly do not want, and we know why. But subjectivism and relativism can be good things sometimes; they can be freeing. People with a sharp and absolute vision are not often as broad in mental sympathies and as rich in charity as Lewis; they tend more towards psychological imperialism. Many of us, Lewis included, would rather live among people who hold firmly that “Love thy neighbor as thyself “is the only universally binding principle in personal morality, leaving to the individual’s own judgment this rule’s application to sexual ethics, the role of women, or to political allegiance- than among people who know in detail God’s will for other private lives as well as for their own and are busy trying to bring about theocracy. Theocracy is one of our oldest banes, and one that Lewis particularly detested.

In conclusion, Lewis’s teaching about Natural Law has acquired unique urgency since his day. He published Abolition in 1947; since then there have been radical shifts in the locus and imminence of threat to the world. The danger of nuclear armaments was obvious in 1947, but there were not enough in existence then to destroy all life on earth. Only part of the public foresaw the cancer-like proliferation of nuclear weapons that would soon threaten to destroy human life (and our libraries and literary heritage), and to cause a nuclear winter. This scenario sounds like the end of the world as foretold in the Norse mythology that Lewis found so compelling.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the threat of worldwide destruction caused by weaponry is far more diffuse. Biological and nuclear tools of modern death technology (as well as possible new alternatives) are sought by power-hungry men with many motives. In 1932 Lewis published the allegorical Pilgrim’s Regress, in which he warned that savage dwarfs called “the Cruels” were then multiplying; communists, fascists, organized crime syndicates, and many other sub-species that value violence and a perverse kind of heroism. It seems reasonable to assume that he would have included contemporary perpetrators of genocide and terrorist groups of all kinds as sub-species of the Cruels.

Lewis sensed, by 1955, the increasing power of modern death technology. In The Magician’s Nephew Jadis decided to use the Deplorable Word, a weapon she had paid a terrible price to obtain. A moment later every living thing in the world of Charn was dead. She did this in outright defiance of Natural Law.

The fate of Charn can be read as Lewis’s commentary on possible large-scale use of today’s arsenal. In 1956 Lewis published The Last Battle, in which the land of Narnia died away more gradually than the land of Charn, ending in ice. “Yes, and I did hope,” said Jill, “That it might go on forever. I knew our world couldn’t” (160). Lewis always assumed that our earth has to die eventually, but he would have been intensely grieved by today’s accelerated destruction of the environment caused not by acts of war, but by reckless plundering and pollution in defiance of the Natural Law. (Obvious examples are depletion of the ozone layer, burning of the rain forests, accumulation of nuclear waste, and contamination of the oceans.)

In Aslan’s beautiful everlasting country Peter found that Lucy was crying because of the death of Narnia, and he tried to stop her. But Lucy appealed to the law in all our hearts and said she was sure it was not wrong to mournthe death of the world they dearly loved. And Tirian, last king of Narnia, affirmed her. “It were no virtue, but grave discourtesy, if we did not mourn” (160).

The Natural Law teaches us to fight to save our world from death, and, should it die, to mourn its destruction. But C.S. Lewis predicted that the Natural Law itself will outlast all worlds. And he promises us a new life that will be the Great Story which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before (184). And all who live that story will be receivers.

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