Well folks, 2007 was about as crazy a year as ever there was. I know that it is usually not customary to wait until four weeks into the new year to do retrospectives like this, but 2007 was such an extraordinarily crazy year that I really did need all of that time to decompress and fully analyze the happenings of that year and what it all means to humanity and life as we all know it. Now that I have had sufficient time to detach and decompress and get some objectivity, here is all of the good, the bad, and the ugly from 2007: Continue reading “A Look Back at 2007: What the F— Just Happened???”
We are still in the section entitled “What Christians Believe”. Lewis has made his argument for the existence of Someone or Something outside of the universe, and is now in the process of establishing basic Christian beliefs about this Someone or Something. To this point we have established that there are opposing forces of good and evil in the universe, but they are not equal by any stretch of the imagination. It turns out that the evil power has borrowed all of what it has and needs for existence itself from the good power. Thus the nature of the universal conflict is that of a civil war, with the evil power in rebellion against the good power, who turns out to be God Himself.
We looked at the concept of free will–why a good God allows evil to happen in His universe. The answer is that in order for good to be truly good, it must be freely chosen. God does not interfere openly in the universe because He wants to give as many as are willing the greatest and longest possible opportunity to choose Him freely. God will intervene openly in the universe to set right everything that is wrong, but when He does so it’s all over and there will be no more opportunity to choose Him freely. Continue reading “Mere Christianity 6: The Shocking Alternative”
Having dismissed atheism and “Christianity-and-water” as “boys’ philosophies”, Lewis now zeroes in on the fundamental problem of the universe, which is this: The universe contains much that is bad and meaningless, yet also contains creatures who are aware of it being bad and meaningless (that would be us). How is this possible? The only alternative to the Christian explanation which takes into account all of the facts is dualism.
Dualism is the belief that there are two equal and opposite powers, one which is all about love and justice and mercy and is what we would call “good”, and the other which is all about cruelty and treachery and destruction and is what we would call “bad”. These two powers have both existed independently from all eternity, and are locked in an endless war for control of the universe.
Now, because of the equal standing of these powers, there is no compelling reason for you to choose one over the other beyond mere personal preference. But good is what you ought to do and to be regardless of personal preference, and so if personal preference is all we have to go on, then good does not deserve to be called good. So if calling one of these powers good and the other bad is not just a matter of personal preference, then there must be Someone or Something, some standard of right which is higher than both of these powers, which the good power conforms to and the bad power fails to conform to. This brings us right back to the God of Christianity, with whom the good power is in right relation and the bad power is in wrong relation. Continue reading “Mere Christianity 5: The Invasion”
Here is an article from U. S. News about increasing interest in traditional forms of Christian and Jewish worship. Which goes along with what I have been saying here all along: that we who live in the here and now of present-day American evangelicalism are not the end-all, be-all of what God is doing in the world. Instead we stand at the end of a long line of believers who have served God faithfully down through many centuries of history.
C. S. Lewis has now gotten us to the conception of God shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, namely that of a God who stands apart from the universe, who is good and righteous, who loves love and hates hatred. At this point he begins to move specifically into the Christian conception of God. First he attacks a simplistic view of Christianity which he calls “Christianity-and-water”, which “simply says there is a good God in Heaven and everything is all right–leaving out all the difficult and terrible doctrines about sin and hell and the devil, and the redemption.”
I wanted to take some time to look at the idea of “Christianity-and-water”, because it seems that an awful lot of evangelical Protestant-dom believes this or some variant of it, in some form or another. There is Joel Osteen (who is so not one of us–don’t even try telling me that he is) and the great and ever-growing nation of Osteeniacs, who believe that there is a good God in Heaven and everything will be all right and you will have “your best life now” if you just have the right kind of self-attitude and positive thinking.
And then there are those (primarily in the Calvinist camp but also in many other parts of evangelical Protestant-dom as well) who believe that there is a sovereign, all-powerful God in Heaven and He does as He pleases and that’s all there is to it. To illustrate, let me direct your attention to a discussion which took place in the blogosphere during the weeks and months following the Minneapolis bridge collapse last August. Continue reading “Mere Christianity 4: “Christianity-and-water””