Friday, April 11, 2014

Changing the world

People-Holding-HandsA Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat ‘Do as you would be done by’ till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward—driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.

“Social Morality” – part 4
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Harper Collins Edition 2001) 87.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Giving more than we can spare

givingIn the passage where the New Testament says that every one must work, it gives as a reason ‘in order that he may have something to give to those in need’. Charity—giving to the poor—is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality. 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 away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them. I am speaking now of charities’ in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, friends, neighbours or employees, which God, as it were, forces upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering of your own position. For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear—fear of insecurity. This must often be recognised as a temptation. Sometimes our pride also hinders our charity; we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.

“Social Morality” – part 3 of 4
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Harper Collins Edition 2001) 86-87.

Monday, April 7, 2014

That is not how Christianity works

Teaching ScienceThe second thing to get clear is that Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political programme for applying ‘Do as you would be done by’ to a particular society at a particular moment. It could not have, it is meant for all men at all times and the particular programme which suited one place or time would not suit another. And, anyhow, that is not how Christianity works. 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 and Greek, or even in English grammar. It was never intended to replace or supersede the ordinary human arts and sciences: it is rather a director which will set them all to the right jobs, and a source of energy which will give them all new life, if only they will put themselves at its disposal.

“Social Morality” – part 2 of 4
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Harper Collins Edition 2001) 82-83.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality

Zara Phillips riding GlenBuck

The first thing to get clear about Christian morality between man and man is that in this department Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality. The Golden Rule of the New Testament (Do as you would be done by) is a summing up of what every one, at bottom, had always known to be right. Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that. As Dr Johnson said, ‘People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.’ 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; like bringing a horse back and back to the fence it has refused to jump or bringing a child back and back to the bit in its lesson that it wants to shirk.

“Social Morality” – part 1 of 4
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Harper Collins Edition 2001) 82.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Stephen to Lazarus

Sailing in the Bay of Fundy, sighting a whaleBut was I the first martyr, who
Gave up no more than life, while you,
Already free among the dead,
Your rags stripped off, your fetters shed,
Surrendered what all other men
Irrevocably keep, and when
Your battered ship at anchor lay
Seemingly safe in the dark bay
No ripple stirs, obediently
Put out a second time to sea
Well knowing that your death (in vain
Died once) must all be died again?

C.S. Lewis, “From Poems,The Essential C.S. Lewis (Touchstone, 1996) 422.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The last interview (Part 11)

Because Professor Lewis has written so extensively, both in fiction and nonfiction, about space travel (see his trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength), I was particularly interested in what he would have to say about the prospects for man’s future.

Sherwood Wirt: What do you think is going to happen in the next few years of history, Mr. Lewis?

Apollo 13 liftoffC.S. Lewis: I have no way of knowing. My primary field is the past. I travel with my back to the engine, and that makes it difficult when you try to steer. The world might stop in ten minutes; meanwhile, we are to go on doing our duty. The great thing is to be found at one’s post as a child of God, living each day a though it were our last, but planning as though our world might last a hundred years.
    We have, of course, the assurance of the New Testament regarding events to come (Matthew 24:4-44; Mark 13:5-27; Luke 21:8-33). I find it difficult to keep from laughing when I find people worrying about future destruction of some kind or other. Didn’t they know they were going to die anyway? Apparently not. My wife once asked a young woman friend whether she had ever thought of death, and she replied, ‘By the time I reach that age science will have done something about it!’

Wirt: Do you think there will be wide-spread travel in space?

Lewis: I look forward with horror to contact with the other inhabited planets, if there are such. We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness, and establish a new colonialism. I can’t hear to think of it. But if we on earth were to get right with God, of course, all would be changed. Once we find ourselves spiritually awakened, we can go to outer space and take the good things with us. That is quite a different matter.

Sherwood Wirt interviewing C.S. Lewis, “Cross-Examination,” God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 266-267 with appropriate additions from the originally published interview in Decision magazine, September 1963, ©1963 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The last interview (Part 10)

Sherwood Wirt: What is your view of the daily discipline of the Christian life — the need for taking time to be alone with God?

C.S. Lewis: We have our New Testament regimental orders upon the subject. I would take it for granted that everyone who becomes a Christian would undertake this practice. It is enjoined upon us by Our Lord; and since they are His commands, I believe in following them. It is always just possible that Jesus Christ meant what He said when He told us to seek the secret place and to close the door’ (Matthew 6:5-6).

Bible-Reading

Matthew 6:5-6
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Sherwood Wirt interviewing C.S. Lewis, “Cross-Examination,” God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 265-266 with appropriate additions from the originally published interview in Decision magazine, September 1963, ©1963 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.