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LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church. The Real C.S. Lewis Part 2 His Life and Writings: Mere Christianity (Screwtape, and other writings) “You’ll never get to the bottom of him.” J.R.R. Tolkien Complied by Paulo F. Ribeiro MBA, PhD, PE, IEEE Fellow. March 14, 2004, AD
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Christian Reformed Church
The Real C.S. Lewis
His Life and Writings: Mere Christianity (Screwtape, and other writings)
“You’ll never get to the bottom of him.”
Paulo F. Ribeiro
MBA, PhD, PE, IEEE Fellow
March 14, 2004, AD
Lewis was qualified at exposing the presuppositions upon which modernism stands. Lewis pointed out that while traditional Western/Christian philosophy rests on deductive logic, modernist thought systems rest exclusively on induction.
Induction is a kind of reasoning that begins with observed facts and then proceeds upward toward a more abstract hypothesis, while deduction begins with abstract premises and general assumptions and works its way downward toward a specific conclusion.
“THE CONTENTS of this book were first given on the air, and then published in three separate parts as Broadcast Talks (1942), Christian Behavior 0943), and Beyond Personality (1944). In the printed versions I made a few additions to what I had said at the microphone, but otherwise left the text much as it had been.”
The series was carried on the BBC Home Service on Wednesday evenings between 7:45 and 8 pm
And The Pubs Went Silent
“I remember being in a pub filled with soldiers on one Wednesday evening. At a quarter to eight, the bartender turned the radio up for Lewis. “You listen to this bloke,” he shouted. “He’s really worth listening to.” And those soldiers did listen attentively for the entire fifteen minutes.”
George Sayer, Jack, CS Lewis and His Times
“Mere Christianity - a two-edged sword more effective than any other book in modern times for slaying the dragons that guard two treasures that are needed for the jihad ahead: understanding Christianity and uniting Christians. The secret of his understanding is that he sees the center, the Christocentrism, the Big Picture, and relates everything else to it. Mere Christianity does in theology what Narnia does in fiction: it shows us Christ. And in doing this, it does the second thing: it provides the primary bridge to unite God's separated people. Mere Christianity shows that what unites all Christians is much more real than some "lowest common denominator" arrived at by abstracting from differences. It shows the concrete reality of the center, Christians' common Commanding Officer, and thereby clears the air on the battlefield, correcting the provincial perspective most Christians had in Lewis's day, and converting them from "civil war Christians" to "world war Christians.”
Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the UniverseThe Law of Nature Lewis notes a tendency in humans of appealing to a standard of absolute truth in quarrels and arguments. He calls this standard the Law of Nature or the Moral Law.
The Law of Nature
The Law of Nature
The Law of Nature
Book I - Right and Wrong as a Clue to the
Meaning of the Universe
An Engineering Perspective
A Flow-Chart Approach
End of the
A Force/Power is a sort of a
tame and convenient God .
An inconsistent Power
Do you believe
in the existence
of a Moral Law?
End of the
Are you tricking
me with a
A God ?
Is there anything
behind the Moral
We are trying to find
truth and the meaning of
End of the
End of the
How can we find out more about the
thing behind the moral law and
the meaning of the universe?
The Moral Law tells you to do the straight thing and it does not seem to care how painful, or dangerous, or difficult it is to do.
The Moral Law does not give us any
grounds for thinking that God is “good” in the sense of being soft and nice..
The Moral Law is as hard as nails.
If God is like the Moral Law, then
HE IS NOT SOFT.
Looking into the
The Universe He Made
Looking inside ourselves,
where He wrote the moral
The universe is
a very dangerous place.
a great artist
Do you want
at your own
But you cannot know
a man by looking at
the house he built.
End of the
End of the
End of the
Is He an Impersonal
Is He a Personal
If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless.
Absolute Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger - according to the way you react to it. God is the only comfort and supreme terror
No exceptions, or allowances
Do you want to
find out more
End of the
End of the
Christianity tells how the demands of the Moral Law,
which we cannot meet, have been met on our behalf, how
God Himself becomes man to save man from the
disapproval of God.
Have you broken
the Moral Law?
Do you think you need
Beginning of Chapter 1 of the Great Story ...
Which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
End of the
“My reason for going around in this way was that Christianity simply does not make sense until you have faced the sort of facts I have been describing.
Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realized that there is a Moral Law, the Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with the Power - it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.
The Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin with comfort; it begins with dismay.
In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end. If you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth - only soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end despair.
All I am doing is to ask people to face the facts - to understand the questions which Christianity claims to answer.”
Lewis discusses what he calls Christianity-and-water.
There are many people who reject Christian doctrine because it is not simple.
It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple… if you want to go on and ask what is really happening - then you must be prepared for something difficult.
Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed.
What is the problem? A universe that contains much that is obviously bad and apparently meaningless, but containing creatures like ourselves who know that it is bad and meaningless.
There are only two views that face all the facts. One is the Christian view that this is a good world that has gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what it ought to have been. The other is the view called Dualism.
Dualism means the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them good and the other bad.
But the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two powers: some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to.
The existence of the Law of Nature requires the ultimate God.
The existence of evil proves the existence of the devil as a fallen angel
In fact, what we meant by calling them good and bad turns out to be that one of them is in a right relation to the real ultimate God and the other in a wrong relation to Him.
To be bad, he must exist and have intelligence and skill. But existence, intelligence and will are in themselves good. Therefore he must be getting them from the Good Power: even to be bad he must borrow or steal from his opponent.
Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.
Enemy-occupied territory-that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.
When you go to church you're really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.
The Shocking Alternative
Who was (and is) Christ?
Great Moral Teacher?
It does Not Make Sense
It is beyond my senses
It is non-sense
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Book 2 - What Christians Believe
The Cosmic Equations – Math/Calculus for Life
Q1. Why did God give free will to man allowing evil to come into the picture?
A1. Because free will is the only thing that makes possibly any love or goodness or joy worth having.
Q2. What did God do to restore / redeem man?
A2. God Himself becomes man to save man from the
disapproval of God.
Q3. What is the formula of Christianity?
A3. That Christ was killed for us, that His death washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.
Q4. Is salvation by God's predestination or by human choice?
A4. "I was offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice. But I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object rather than the subject in this affair. I was decided upon... I chose, yet it really did not seem possible to do the opposite."
"Faith... is the art of holding onto things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian, I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist, I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods 'where they get off,' you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion."
"... I was going to tell you of Lewis's role in the "before and after" story of Chuck Colson, Nixon's hit man, whose famous desk sign tells you all you need to know about his "before"--"When you've got them by their [say necks], their hearts and minds will follow." Federal judges convicted him of Watergate crimes, but the judge of the universe convicted him of a crime that's only on God's books: pride. And God's prosecuting attorney was C.S. Lewis. When Colson came to Mere Christianity's chapter on pride, he saw the truth, and himself, and made the right choice between the two, as Lewis had. He is now a great warrior for God's little guys instead of a little [bad boy]for Nixon's big guys: he helps publicans in prison instead of Pharisees in politics..“
The Screwtape Letters" is fiction. But only fiction in the sense that the characters and the dialogue sprang from the imagination of one of the greatest modern Christian writers. Yet in our terrestrial reality the issues confronted in this book play out in our lives every day.
The book contains thirty-one letters from Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood, who is Screwtape's underling in fiendishness. Screwtape is an upper-level functionary in the complex bureaucracy of the underworld. The "Screwtape Letters" are friendly advice from this elder statesman to a front-line tempter on how to procure the soul of his "patient", a young Christian man just trying to live out his everyday life.
We get the letters only from one side of the correspondence (Screwtape's), yet the story of the meanderings of the Christian "patient's" soul is clearly read between the lines. The letters begin with Wormwood's failure to keep his subject from becoming a Christian. The urbane Screwtape informs him that, although this is an alarming development, his patient is by no means lost to the dark forces of evil.
World War II serves as the backdrop for the Letters. Yet war and strife do not play a significant roll in the work. The book is about more everyday and universal problems. Problems every individual must deal with even today.
Thus, each letter addresses various aspects of the travails of the human soul and how the devil tempts that soul away from goodness and toward evil - not evil on a grand scale, but evil on a petty scale. They show how evil can seep into a Christian's relationships with friends and family, in his views on the church, even in his practice of prayer.
As each letter unfolds, we find the Christian "patient" slipping more and more out of the hands of Wormwood and his temptations. Screwtape's advice to the tempter becomes more firm and yet more subtle. And, by degrees, we come to see the workings of evil in our own hearts. "The Screwtape Letters" is a book that entertains while it instructs. It is a book to be treasured and studied.
The correspondence of devils would not be an easy composition for most writers. Yet C. S. Lewis was a master at revealing subtleties of the diabolical mind. We find Screwtape to be urbane, intelligent, witty and even charming. These qualities are tools. Like a hammer or a screwdriver, in the right hands they can build a cathedral. In the wrong hands they could destroy a high-speed turbine in motion.
Through the "Screwtape Letters" we come to realize that evil seldom pops up as the genocidal maniac slaughtering millions (though it does on occasion show up in the guise of a Stalin or a Hitler). For individuals, it generally takes the form of little urgings that come from within, telling us to respond brusquely to a family member or to frown on that poor soul in the neighboring pew with the funny hat.
It is evil in our everyday lives that Screwtape addresses, petty evils that add up in the end to the destruction of our morality, the demise of our individuality and the utter destruction of our souls.
I note what you say about guiding your patient's reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naïf? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. But what with the weekly press and other such weapons, we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily "true" or "false," but as "academic" or "practical," "outworn" or "contemporary," "conventional" or "ruthless." Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don't waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about.
He took in more, he felt more, he remember more, he invented more … His writings record an intense awareness, a vigorous reaction, a taking of the world into his heart … His blacks and whites of good and evil and his ecstasies and miseries were the tokens of a capacity for experience beyond our scope.
Austin Farrer on C.S. Lewis