LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church The Real C.S. Lewis Screwtape Letters, Theological “You’ll never get to the bottom of him.” J.R.R. Tolkien Paulo F. Ribeiro MBA, PhD, PE, IEEE Fellow March 14, 2004, AD Grand Rapids
I think it important to try to see the present calamity in a true perspective. The war [terrorism] creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would have never begun. C.S. Lewis, "Learning in War-Time," in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses
Mere Christianity - Excerpt from Preface: I hope no reader will suppose that "mere" Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions — as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall, I have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into the room you will find that the long wait has done some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling.
Mere Christianity - Excerpt from Preface: In plain language, the question should never be: "Do I like that kind of service?" but "Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?" When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. This is one of the rules common to the whole house.
Book I - Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe A Flow-Chart Approach
I Peter 3:15 But in your heart set Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.
Book 2 - What Christians Believe Who was (and is) Christ? God? Great Moral Teacher? Lunatic? It does Not Make Sense It is beyond my senses It is non-sense What was the Purpose of it all? To Teach But Christians are constantly talking about something different Christ Death Resurrection
Book 2 - What Christians Believe Understanding / Believing Christianity The Real Thing Pictures Theories mutually exclusive Believing Understanding Why did He have to die? God had to Restore the Original Order Man Needed to go through a complete restoration / recycle / re-birth Man needed to be restored and could not do it by himself Perfect Humiliation was necessary God would have to walk us through the process This could not be accomplished by man himself Only a God (Perfection) and Man (Humiliation) could do it HE DID IT - FOR US
Book 2 - What Christians Believe The Cosmic Equations - Calculus for Life Creation Fall Redemption
Book 2 - What Christians Believe Perfect Humiliation Perfect because He was God - Humiliation because He was man How and where from this new man derives his strength New life - Christ life Faith Baptism Communion
Book 2 - What Christians Believe Christ-life operate through our bodies, fingers, muscles, etc.. God loves and uses material things, like bread and wine. He loves matter. He Created it But why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world? Why is He not landing in force, invading it? Is He not strong enough? Yes, He is. God will invade. But when He does, it will be very different. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. Are you ready? Have you chosen the right side - His side? Now is the time for choosing. God is holding back to give us that chance - It will not last forever.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior What is Morality? Rules to stop us having fun Rules for running the human machine Moral Ideals vs Moral Rules Moral Idealism vs Moral Obedience Ways The Human Machine Goes Wrong Individuals drift apart from one another - collide Different parts within an individual drift apart or interfere with one another
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Morality is concerned with three things Fair play between individuals What man was made for Tidying up or harmonizing the things inside each individual The behavior of the human machine is related to the understanding of its origin and destination To whom we belong to? How long are we going to live? Morality : Three Departments Relations between man to man Relations inside each man Relations between man and the power that made him
Book 3 - Christian Behavior The Cardinal (Pivotal - Essential) Virtues Common Sense Child’s Heart Grown-up Head Prudence Going the right length and no further From drinking to reading Temperance Fairness Honesty Truthfulness Keeping Promises Justice Fortitude Guts Christianity requires the whole of us, brains, and all. One of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. This is why, an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that astonished the whole world.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Virtue Quality Not a particular Action Important Observations 1. The right actions done for the wrong reason do not help to build character called virtue 2. God does not want obedience to a set of rules - He is interested in a people of a particular sort 3. In heaven we may not need to practice the cardinal virtues, but there will be every occasion for being the sort of people that we can become only as a result of doing such acts here. ...if people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside of them, then no possible external conditions could make a “Heaven” for them - that is, could make them happy with the deep, strong, unshakable kind of happiness God intended for us. Galatians 6: 1-10 (Let us not become weary in doing good)
Book 3 - Christian Behavior When Christianity tells you to feed the hungry it does not give you lessons in cookery. If our charities to do not at all pinch us or hamper us, I should say they are too small. Every time we make a choice we are turning the central part of us either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Social Morality 1 Golden Rule: Do as you would be done by 2 Christianity has, and does not profess to have a detailed political program for applying ‘Do as you would be done by’ When it tells you to feed the hungry it does not give you lessons in cookery When it tells you to read the Scriptures it does not give you lessons in Hebrew or Greek It was never intended to replace the ordinary human arts and science: it is a director which will set them all to the right jobs, if only they will put themselves at its disposal. Life is Religion
Book 3 - Christian Behavior The job is really on us, on the laymen, not the Church. The application of Christian principles, say to trade unionism or education, must come from Christian trade unionists and Christian schoolmasters: just as Christian literature comes from Christian novelists and dramatics - from from the bench of bishops getting together and trying to write plays and novels in their spare time. The New Testament tell us: 1. There is no passengers or parasites 2 . Leftist - and Obedient 3. Cheerful society Economy = Socialist Code of manners = Aristocratic Modern Economy - Based on lending money at interest Christian Economist are needed here. The concept applies to all professions. To All of Life
Book 3 - Christian Behavior The Question of Giving - Charity I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc.., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving too little. If our charities to do not at all pinch us or hamper us, I should say they are too small. A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us want it. And we are not going to want it until we become fully Christians. But I cannot do it until I love my neighbor as myself. And I am not going learn to love my neighbor until I learn to love God and I cannot learn to love God until I obey Him.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Morality and Psychoanalysis Christian Specification for the human machine Moral Choices Involve: 1. Choosing 2. Feelings, Impulses (raw material of his choice) Natural and Perverted Desires Bad psychological material is not sin but a disease God does not judge man on the raw material at all but on what he does with it. Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before ... turning this central part either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Sexual Morality The Christian Rule: Virtue of Chastity Chastity should not be confused with social rule of modesty, propriety or decency The Christian Rule is: Either Marriage with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence This rule is so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct has gone wrong. The biological purpose of sex is children. Please discuss the following definition: Sex was made for the ultimate intimate enjoyment within the bounds of marriage in which children can be an additional blessing.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Sexual Appetite Food strip-tease (sexual starvation or perversion) Why are lies about sex so powerful? Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion. What is the view of the Film and TV industry on sexual morality? Every civilized man must have some set of principles by which he chooses to reject some of his desires and and to permit others. Christian Principles Hygienic Principles Sociological Principles Perfect Chastity - like perfect charity - will not be attained by any merely human efforts. Sex: The Center of Christian Morality is Not Here.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Christian Marriage Marriage is for Life Keeping Promises: A Basic Moral Principle The important difference between: Being in Love with someone or Loving someone Love is an evolving process - ever improving and deepening The Question of Divorce The Question of Man’s Headship Constitution, Natural Psychology
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Forgiveness If we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven. The most unpopular virtue. Do you agree with this statement? Think of someone you find difficult to forgive. Let us ask God to help us and forgive us! Love your neighbor as yourself! Discuss what does this mean to you. How do we love ourselves? Do we need to like what we love? Capital punishment. How do we respond to it? When killing is not a murder? Never enjoy punishing - Discuss.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Charity Three Theological Virtues Faith - Hope - Charity Discuss the following topics related to charity: Giving to the poor. Love is not a state of the feeling but of the will. Liking conflicts with charity. The rule is: Do not waste your time bothering ... Giving and show off. Good and evil both increase at compound interest. Do not waste your time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Hope Looking forward to the eternal world. No escapism wishful thinking. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither. The Hope for Heaven led the Christians throughout the ages to do things that changed history. (The Apostles, the great men of the middle ages, The Reformers, The English Evangelicals, The Civil Rights Movement, etc.) Dealing with the inconsolable longing. The Fool’s Way The Way of Disillusioned Sensible Man The Christian Way 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.
Book 3 - Christian Behavior Faith Is faith a moral virtue or a statement to be accepted as good or bad? At what point of the Christian life does faith come into the picture?What is the problem with faith and emotion? Romans 7:14-20, Genesis 4:7Why is faith a necessary virtue? 1st: Recognize the fact that your moods change. 2nd: Remind yourself daily of what you believe. “It is not reason that is taking away my faith, but my imagination and my emotions.”
Book 4 - Beyond Personality Making and Begetting A discussion about life and how it relates to God. Theology: As a Map Less Real, But Essential Christians: We are all Missionaries and Theologians Religious Experience Based on Emotions (Charismatic) Feelings (New Age) Popular Understanding (Nominalism) Christianity (Integral Religion) is Based on Faith Reason Experience Emotions, Feelings
Book 4 - Beyond Personality Making and Begetting Christ is the Son of God Those who give Him their confidence can also become Sons of God His death saved us from our sins Before all worlds Christ is begotten, not created. Man as Pictures or Statues of God Material versus Spiritual This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.
Book 4 - Beyond Personality The Three-Personal God A discussion of the divine personality, it's qualities, and how it works in our lives. God beyond Personality The Wrong idea - God as something impersonal The Christian Idea - God as Super-Personal / Three-Personal Life Father is is not is not God is is Son Spirit is not
More Quotes From Mere Christianity "Right actions done for the wrong reason do not help to build the internal quality or character called a "virtue," and it is this quality or character that really matters." "There is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all you reasoning power comes: you could not be right and he wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on." "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell."
More Quotes From Mere Christianity "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." "...in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist - in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless - I found that I was forced to assume that one part of reality - namely, my idea of justice - was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning; just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” "Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is..."
More Quotes From 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." "Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self..." "Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect." “The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God. What we try to keep for ourselves is just what we are sure to lose.” "They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit tying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, 'If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?' When you have found the answer, go and do it." "But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not."
More Quotes From Mere Christianity " ...badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness . . . Evil is a parasite, not an original thing." No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” "Never, never pin your whole faith on a human being...there are lots of nice things you can do with sand; but do not try building a house on it." "If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." "The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God." “Free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give [creatures] free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” “The happiness God desires for His creatures is...ecstasy of love...And for that they must be free.”
More Quotes From Mere Christianity “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.” The better stuff a creature is made of—the cleverer and stronger and freer it is—then the better it will be if it goes right, but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong. 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. "Whenever you find a man who says he doesn't believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later."
More Quotes From 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." "If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will...then we may take it it is worth paying." "Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self..." "Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..." "When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all." "You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house." "There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law. It is as hard as nails...If God is like the Moral Law, then He is not soft."
More Quotes From Mere Christianity "All that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery--[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." "The natural life in each of us is something self-centered, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe." "[The natural life] knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centeredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that." "The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is the hand over your whole self--all your wishes and precautions--to Christ."
More Quotes From Mere Christianity "My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying that it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless--I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality--namely my idea of justice--was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."
More Quotes From Mere Christianity "Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But the map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God--experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you or I are likely to get on our own way are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map... [This] is just why a vague religion--all about feeling God in nature, and so on--is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map." "If you do not listen to Theology, that will mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones--bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today, are simply the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected. To believe in the popular religion of modern England is retrogression--like believing the earth is flat." "Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that... The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see."
More Quotes From Mere Christianity "People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, 'If you keep a lot of rules, I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing.' I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other." "What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God."
More Quotes From Mere Christianity "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." "... As St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves' but also 'as wise as serpents.' He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head."
The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.