Lewis’s Mere Christianity HMXP 102 Dr. Fike
Business • Who will volunteer a paper for our workshop? • If you have a paper proposal to turn in, I’ll collect it now. • Those who came in late last time were marked present. Remember to check in with me if you arrive late. Course policy. • Remind me to return your papers. Note that that greatest problem was overgeneralization.
Lewis, Mere Christianity • We are going to discuss quotations from Lewis’s text.
Passage-based Focused Freewriting • Put brackets around the passage in your book. • Copy the passage in your notes. • Annotate it. • Write about it for 5 minutes: For example, how does the passage relate to your own experience? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not? So what? • Discussion.
Par. 5: Types of Conversion Experiences: PBFF • “As well, the thing I am talking of now may not happen to every one in a sudden flash—as it did to St. Paul or Bunyan: it may be so gradual that no one could ever point to a particular hour or even a particular year. And what matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.”
How To Improve Your Life? • Lewis, end of par. 3: A person “cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankruptcy” (my emphasis). • Lewis, middle of par. 13: “‘I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. … Hand over the whole natural self…. I will give you a new self instead.’” • Do we have within us all that we need? • “a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you” (end of par. 6) • God “is inside you as well as outside” (middle of par. 8)
Ephesians 4:22-24 • “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” • Old man vs. new man::Adam vs. Jesus. • Cf. Romans 6:6; Ephesians 2:15; and Colossians 3:9-11. • For commentary see: http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=434
Metanoia from dictionary.com • Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English • Main Entry: metanoia • Part of Speech:n • Definition: spiritual conversion or awakening; fundamental change of character • Etymology: Greek 'change one's mind, repent'
Par. 16: The Total Self? Connection to Tillich? • “For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs.”
Key Point • “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” C. S. Lewis
Improvement • Par. 17: “listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” • Par. 21: “And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are drawn in, a great many other things in Nature will begin to come right.”
Par. 22: Other Religions • “If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. . . . But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others. . . .”
Connection to Peterson et al. • To which school of religious thought does Lewis subscribe? • Exclusivism • Pluralism • Inclusivism • How do you define each of these terms?
Definitions: Mark Your Books • Exclusivism says that “salvation, liberation, human fulfillment, or whatever else one considers the ultimate goal of the religion to be, is found solely in or through one particular religion” (par. 8). • Pluralism says that “each [religion] can successfully facilitate salvation, liberation, or self-fulfillment” (par. 19). • Inclusivism: Like exclusivism, it says that “there is one absolute provision for salvation that only one religion makes truly known”; however, “Everyone can experience salvation, regardless of whether he or she has heard and acknowledged the basic tenets of the one true religion” (par. 43). • What about Lewis? Does he fall into one of these categories? Can you draw it?
Chart Pluralism----Inclusivism----Lewis----Exclusivism Pluralism: All religions facilitate salvation. Inclusivism: There is one true religion, but salvation is available to everyone. Lewis: Other religions have some value, but only Christians are saved. Exclusivism: There’s only one true religion, period. Only Christians can be saved.
Another Alternative: Universalism • From dictionary.com: “the doctrine that emphasizes the universal fatherhood of God and the final salvation of all souls.” • This one is even further to the left than pluralism.
Assumptions • All of the preceding four approaches are based on the assumption that human beings have souls that survive physical death and are saved or damned (go to heaven or hell). • Lewis and Peterson et al. all assume that religion is a necessary component in a person’s salvation. • POINT: You do not have to buy into either one of these assumptions.
Question • Was Lewis Catholic or Protestant? • Do you think that historical context shaped Mere Christianity? • These questions lead to the next slide.
WIC: The Point of This Class • Knowledge is a construct. Understanding this point is one of our course goals. (Peterson et al. suggest that we see religion through lenses: our individuality, our society’s conventions, our historical context. Something is true or good because we have learned to think that it is.) • So is the notion that only Christianity is completely true something that culture has constructed? If you believe that only Christianity is completely true, are you listening to “mother culture” (Quinn)? OR is Lewis identifying a fundamental truth about what Peterson et al. call “Reality”? • According to Lewis, is it okay to cherry pick Christianity, taking what appeals to you and leaving the rest? (Lewis seems to think that it is okay to do that with other religions. Wouldn’t a pluralist be much more comfortable with this maneuver?) • Is it enough just to be a moral person? • What is YOUR position on any of this? END