C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 7
Mere Christianity (Part 4)
Lewis begins by discussing our common moral experience as a triggering point to reason toward theism. Then he reasons for a deity that’s interested in morality that’s also a supreme power. With naturalism, we come from a source that is non-rational, non-moral and non-personal, so it’s difficult to understand how you get beings that are rational, moral and personal.
Mere Christianity (Part 4)
Mere Christianity (part 4)
B. Pantheism expressed in Hinduism
II. From Theism to Christianity
A. Christianity in relation to other religions
B. People who have not heard the gospel
C. What Christianity looks like to people outside the faith
The purpose of the class is to directly engage Lewis’s philosophy and theology. He brings a Christian worldview to engage intellectual movements of his day. The trinity created us to bring us into the fellowship that has been going on with God forever.
The mind is the organ of reason, imagination is the organ of understanding. To understand what real truth is, the imagination needs to be a part of that. We are created in the image of God and are immortal beings. Ordinary people are extraordinary. The Christian life is most deeply about being transformed resulting in participation in the divine life. It's more than just having one’s legal status changed. There should be transformation in the culture as well as personal. God is in the process of redeeming a wounded universe, including the whole of knowledge and truth in all subjects.
There is a sacred quality to ordinary activities as well as symbolic religious rituals. Whatever is true in any field of study is God’s truth. The world is essentially good, but it’s been damaged. God has taken a great risk in allowing people free choice for good or evil. Evil has become present in many forms in the world and it is anti-creational and anti-human. We are not broken, but we are bent. God’s nature is relational because of the nature of the Trinity, so it makes sense that he would make a universe that is relational. We dwell in God and he dwells in us. As disciples of Christ we all share the single vocation of loving God and others.
Lewis wants to parlay theological doctrines into dynamic insights and track out their implications for intellectual engagement. He does is with a background of philosophical skill and theological understanding of historic orthodoxy. Instead of arguing about preferences, we need to focus on articulating the doctrines that are universal. Lewis’s ideas are expressed so they can be understood by people not formally trained in philosophy or theology but they have merit in the marketplace of ideas.
The probability of morality as we know it in the human community, given that theism is true, is more probable than morality given any other worldview. Morality at the human (finite) level is anchored in morality at the infinite level. Morality has its most natural fitting worldview home in theism. In using the analogy of light shining through boards in a tool shed, Lewis says, “I believe in Christianity, not because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”
In Hinduism, Brahman, the hidden inner essence of everything, is beyond human categories of good and evil. Brahman is the only reality. Everything we see is an illusion. The fundamental human problem is ignorance, not sin. Dualism is the idea that there is good and evil at war in the universe. Explaining morality in a dualistic framework is difficult. Dualism assumes good and evil are equal, so you would need a third element to adjudicate which one to choose, and that would be a higher standard. Otherwise you wouldn’t know which one to choose. Naturalism/materialism says there is no ultimate moral nature to the universe.
Lewis begins by discussing our common moral experience as a triggering point to reason toward theism. Then he reasons for a deity that’s interested in morality that’s also a supreme power. With naturalism, we come from a source that is non-rational, non-moral and non-personal, so it’s difficult to understand how you get beings that are rational, moral and personal.
Theism is intellectually at least on par, if not superior to, other conceptions of reality like dualism, pantheism and naturalism. If there is a God that theism describes, only one deity of the living theistic religions said that this God invaded our existence. The question is that in comparison to other alternatives, what is emerging as a reasonable explanation of the reality we face?
Our rationality being reliable assumes that we can produce a large preponderance of true beliefs over false ones by using rational faculties like memory, abstract reasoning, perception and the testimony of others. The role of philosophy is to analyze and explain the common sense beliefs of the human race about morality and the external world.
The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. Lewis thinks that we now do not have broad social consensus of Christian truth. He challenges individuals to have a more positive affirming attitude toward intellect and academics. In his view, Christians are ambivalent about the value of the life of the mind and using the gift of our intellect to serve him.
Premise one: every natural desire corresponds to one real object. Premise two: There exists in us a desire that nothing in the temporal world can satisfy. Conclusion is that there must be more than time, earth and creatures that can satisfy this desire.
The Supreme Being, behind the universe as we know it, is a personal being, eternal and the model for how we are to understand our personhood. We can’t understand our own personhood fully, the way it’s supposed to operate, unless we understand what God is, as a personal being. We are not projecting our understanding on God but learning about ourselves by finding out about God.
This is ultimately a book about a clash of worldviews. A worldview offers an explanation of the important features/phenomena of life and the world. In the West, the atheist worldview is often expressed in naturalism. Lewis argues for theism based on what is true internally of us, rather than argument from design. Discussion is not whether a particular miracle has occurred, but in principle, is it a possibility.
There is a supernatural power or being that is ontologically distinct from nature (transcendent). It is self-existent. Every world view must propose what is fundamentally real. For the naturalist, it is the physical world. For the theist, it’s a transcendent deity. Everything that is not God is dependent/contingent on God for its being. The theist says that the deity can bring about events that would not have happened by the regular operation of nature.
What’s important to Lewis is freedom of rational thinking, free from physical causes. Naturalism undercuts the power of reason because everything is determined by physical causes. If evolutionary naturalism is true, then the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable for truth is low.
If you believe in naturalism as a worldview, miracles are impossible. Since a naturalist worldview says everything is determined and thought is only adaptive, the ability to have free rational thought to logically evaluate naturalism undercuts the naturalist position.
Rational thought and moral consciousness are points of entry of the supernatural into the realm of the natural. It involves both. It’s not a dichotomy. Naturalists believe that the nature of human persons is limited to material processes. Substance dualists believe that mind and brain are two separate substances that are mixed for now, but at death one will cease to exist and the other will continue to exist. Emergentist sees the animal form taken to another degree of complexity by the natural realm getting increasingly complex and dualist in function as opposed to substance.
Scientific law is economical summary of what experience always reports: regular cause and effect. Laws are regularity based on coincidences. Causality is the basis of law. Hume says that laws are regularities based on coincidences. Hume says that you can only know regularity because that’s all the human mind is capable of. Peterson’s view is that a miracle is not changing a law of nature, it’s changing with the “ceteris paribus” clause – preventing all things from being equal and changing the nature of the item.
There is nothing about nature that makes miracles impossible. The naturalist can’t see nature accurately as a creature, not just an independent fact but it can’t stand or explain itself. The cosmological principle is that only concrete beings, not general things, have causal power. Causal laws don’t make things happen, only the beings acting within the laws.
If God is in fact a living determinate being, and is outside the natural system, he might insert events into the natural system. The laws that we observe in the natural system may be a subset of higher laws that govern the universe. What criteria do you use to determine if a miracle has taken place? Evidence plus intrinsic probability. Whether or not an event is a miracle is also part of the discussion of the problem of evil. Why would God intervene in some circumstances but not others?
In philosophy, it’s referred to as the problem of evil. Given a certain understanding of God and a certain understanding of evil, there is a tension explaining why evil exists in the world.
If God chooses to create a nature, this signifies a physical system which indicates a relatively independent nature independent from himself, it would make a lot of sense to say he is frequently intervening. The same laws that make nature a stable environment in which rational soulish life can emerge, are also the same laws that make us vulnerable. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. He might whisper to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain. Question about whether God initiates the pain or he set up a system which results in pain because of the way it’s structured.
Lewis describes the story of the Fall as a narrative that has symbolic elements that convey significant truth. The truth in the first couple chapters of Genesis is that we were created by God, sovereign and loving creator, and that our only fulfillment as humans is to center our lives on God. Our proper role as a creature is to rely on God, so when we ignore that and rely on ourselves, our relationship with God is broken.
God is his creation set forth the problem of expressing his goodness through the total drama of a world containing free agents in spite of, and even by means of, their rebellion against him. The risk is for the possibility of relationship.
Aristotle would say that as a rational, moral being you build your character based on the hierarchy of good traits. From a Christian perspective, our natural destiny should be on the same trajectory as our eternal destiny. The spiritual and theological virtues are faith, hope and love.
As long as God chooses a stable physical order, that physical order will run by its own laws. Any system with have the possibility of pain. Created nature with natural laws provide a framework/structure in which souls can meet. Some pain is produced by the natural system without regard to the desires of the beings. That humans can inflict pain on other humans is a reflection of the permission by God that he permits this. The wide range of freedom makes it possible for great good or terrible evil.
Lewis thinks that God needs to pierce the shield of our ego and we are embodied creatures so pain is what does it by getting our attention by highlighting how frail and in need we are.
For Lewis, heaven is the unending joyous life of God, the life of the Trinity. The only way I can be fulfilled is to find its proper purpose and relation with God. Heaven is the restoration of created personhood, what it was always meant to be. When we are on the trajectory, we begin experiencing it now. Hell is the lack of fulfillment for which we were made.
Discussion of the movie Shadowlands. Discussion of the nature of relationships. Pain and happiness are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Lewis expresses anger toward God as part of his process of grief. Orthodox Christianity denies materialism which believes that your physical body is all you are, but it doesn’t require body-soul dualism where the soul is the real person that inhabits a shell. Whatever damage death completes in the reign of sin in this world will be undone and swallowed up by the resurrection. The restoration of human personhood will come after death.
Heaven and hell are dichotomous. Whether life is heaven or hell depends on your future trajectory. God is true reality, fixed and can’t be altered. In GD, true reality is God. The descriptions are not meant to be literal. Heaven is the Trinitarian life of God. It’s not a place, it’s a state of being in proper relation to the love and joy of the Trinitarian relations. Lewis describes it as a great dance.
Final comments about themes in The Great Divorce.
C. S. Lewis is an extremely good theologian who does his work for the thoughtful lay person. But his writings reflect his erudite understanding of the great classics of literature, historical theology, philosophy, and other disciplines. Lewis says in Mere Christianity that theology is like a map. We may get where we’re going without it, but it is much easier to use the map. The map of Christian theology is drawn over the early centuries of the church as the believing community interprets the Bible and its experience of God.
Of course, the ultimate goal of theology, according to Lewis, is practical: to draw us into the life of God, or St. Gregory of Nazianzus ((329-374 AD), called it, “the Great Dance.” I know no theme deeper or more pervasive in Lewis than our need to get the steps right, to join the dance once again.
In “Meditations in a Tool Shed,” Lewis says that there is a distinction between looking at a beam of light and looking along the beam of light. He is speaking of looking at reason or using reason—a passage that forms part of his great case that presence of rationality argues for the truth of theism. We will be doing a lot of looking in this course, largely, “looking at” Lewis himself. But let us also try to “look along” the same line of sight as Lewis, to see things—God, humanity, spiritual life, and a host of other things—as Lewis saw them. This means attempting to step inside Lewis’s worldview and learning to interpret fundamental realities the way he did and to deploy his distinctive strategies for engaging other worldviews. In effect, we will learn to think Christianly by learning to think along Christianly with Lewis.
In 2020, Dr. Peterson published the book, C. S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview. It is essentially his course lectures in written book form--covering Lewis on all key worldview issues--reality, knowledge, creation, trinity, christology, as well as issues of evil, religious pluralism, and the impact of science on faith. You will also see it listed in the Recommended Reading section.
Dr. Michael Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Mere Christianity (Part 4)
Let's go ahead and pray or a couple of minutes behind. Start time will pray and then get into our material. Father, once again, we thank you for leading us to this point in our lives and our studies at a theological seminary help each one of us to continue to discern the path of our calling. What you would have us to do Let this class be an aid to anything we do to build your kingdom. Help us in this time. Together, we pray to have clear heads and and passionate hearts in Christ name. Amen. Probably we should do a little reconnecting with where we left off last time, and then we can, you know, go forward. Anything left over in your minds from last time? That would be good to, you know, explain more deeply. Clarify. One way to look at the book is to look at it as a kind of an argument line, not a real tight argument. He's discussing his way through. But you can look at it as an argument line where he's taking our moral experience. He initially takes our moral experience common to the human race with, you know, its various particularities, but its common universal core as sort of a a triggering point to reason toward a theistic conclusion that something like theism must be the case, that there must be something out there whose is very interested in morality. Then one thing we didn't talk a lot about was he talks about once in the evolution of human civilization, we began to associate this being who's interested in goodness and morality with a supreme power. You know, the theistic concept is building. So he does a little bit of that. And he thinks that, at least for the purposes of the book, which are simply radio broadcasts put into book form for those purposes, he's gotten us in theistic territory to make it rationally credible, anchored in human experience that an old an O.G.
God exists omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good. And then he wants to say if theism is credible, if we can get it on the table in the intellectual arena, then we can build a bridge from that to more specifically, Christian thinking, more specifically Christian ideas. See, So that's when we closed book one. I kind of see it that way as he's gotten theism on the table, given that one not the only rational support, but one strong rational support in his own version of the moral argument for theism. Then with the second with a second book, which is called What Christians Believe, he's dealing with more specific Christian understanding. And it kind of starts out with the idea that there are rival conceptions of God. And we did do this last time. I'm just trying to reconnect, like I was saying, with rival conceptions of God. He talks about dualism and pantheism and we kind of reviewed what they believe last time. I might do that again here in a second. We kind of reviewed what they believe. And he's kind of positioning theism initially alongside these other conceptual core beliefs that can be found in major world religions. The conceptual core of cosmic dualism can be found in, well, ancient Manichean ism, or it was just as ancient Zoroastrianism. We didn't mention it last time, of course, but actually Zoroastrians more ancient than Manichean ism, probably during the internet in our testimonial period. Think what kind of cultural influences flowed into Palestine in that roughly 400 and some year gap, and clearly one of them had to have been called Persian cosmic dualism, right? And so the strict monotheism of the Old Testament, this is kind of interesting aside, the strict monotheism of the Old Testament didn't envision really any rival power to God.
And honestly, Christianity doesn't either. There's no rival, you know, But but ancient cosmic dualism, certainly, which is Zoroastrianism, does envision that. So it's not surprising that in the New Testament you get a lot more mention of some kind of an opposing power, put it in proper theological context. It's still created power. It doesn't even compare to God's power. But you do get that in a way. You don't get it in the so, so frequently mentioned. In the Old Testament. They're making sense. I'm sure you go over this in other classes. But here's here's a point where Lewis was actually tackling the philosophical core beliefs of cosmic dualism that the cosmos is structured, ultimate reality is structured in a dual way, equal and opposite powers. Good one, good one, evil. And of course, in in in ancient Zoroastrianism, it has its own certain theology of how that goes. Interestingly, it has an eschatology which I can't get into, but you wonder how one power can be victorious. But there is kind of a vision in Zoroastrianism for that, some kind of ultimate victory, and I can go into that in great detail. Yeah. So in the age of cosmic dualism, the idea that they're equal is that because otherwise the battle would cease with stuff on one side, which is all in a way that's true. I mean, if this idea comes, even if you had appealed it not in the Zoroastrian form, but from the ancient teacher Mani, that appealed to Augustine before he became Christian, that the best religious explanation for the strange mixture of good and evil in the world is some kind of dualism that we're called as a battleground between forces of good and evil. So there's a lot of truth to that.
But but when you make the forces ontological entities and say there's something that's ontologically, you know, innately evil, then you've really built into your metaphysic, your ontology, that the structure of reality is dual innately, and you don't really get that in Christian theology. You certainly don't get it even in a theistic core because God is supremely good and there's no rival. Everything else is creature. So it wouldn't be elevated to that status of equal and opposite. But the ongoing battle, the ongoing mixture in the world we inhabit of of good and evil, that mixture that a lot of people think is best explained by some kind of dualism. So the ancients thought that Zoroastrianism, being their one religion that expressed that Manichean ism, taught that. And Augustine thought, Yeah, that's right. That's the best. And then later he, as it became a Christian, had to rethink how he he understood God's relation to evil in the created world. But yeah, if one was stronger, if he was just a little bit stronger, maybe the struggle could go on a little bit more. How much stronger, you know, determines the kind of dualism that I'm used to think? Because a lot of the things that can come to be expressed in this way, there's not like 5050, but is that the evil always is in the 49% and witness is 51 at the moment where Christ came into the world, that's when it was almost 5050. I see the duel as it was not always two slightly towards good. Yeah. And here's I think I'm glad we're having this conversation. Dualism as a metaphysic of of reality we often call cosmic dualism. So the structure of reality is a supreme good and a supreme evil. If you don't believe in cosmic dualism, which gives means good as an entity and evil as an entity, you can still believe there's a dualism.
It would just be a cosmic deal, or what we might call an ideological dualism. It would be a dualism of moral of sort of moral positions that you could still have all of the phenomena of good and evil we experience in the world without attributing to entities. And so the discussion you were having about your your home country, I'm guessing that I'm sure there's a dualism. I'm not sure if it's an entity of dualism or what we often call cosmic dualism, frankly, mind. Audie. Or sometimes called soul body dualism. It doesn't have to be at all, but it often is correlated with some some degree of thinking like this. So that mind and soul are sort of participants of the good realm in body. Is material life somehow more connected with the evil realm so that we ourselves are torn? Some people mistakenly read Romans seven this way that the flesh has something to do with physicality, materiality, and the spirit. The flesh is such a natural thing, particularly with all this background in the ancient world, which is so suggestive that we read Romans seven that way, as opposed to saying that in in the New Testament there are at least two words in English. I mean, sorry. One word in English is translated for two different Greek words, and you've got Soma body or Sarkis, a twisted, rebellious turn of mind. So you get Sparks and Roman seven. Nothing about the physical body. You know, it's really interesting. God pronounce that good. The whole totality of who we are as creatures, as human creatures is pronounced very good. In Genesis. It was no offense to God to become one with a single individual body and mind Jesus of Nazareth. So that but that thinking lingers that there's something that's more tempting towards sin about our bodily, you know, aspect, that kind of thing.
Are they I think in the name of, of authentic Christianity, we really have to diplomatically, you know, explain that's not the way it is for creation, incarnation or sacramental religion. You got to defend bodily life. You have lots of positive, affirming things to say. But it's hard because there are a lot of forces that identify body with lower, less valuable. Van spirit, if not outright the root of evil or the the biggest reasons why we're weak as opposed to located in the sinfulness of the human will, the waywardness our tendency to turn away by our will. Yeah. So if you look at Satan as a fallen angel, is that dualism? No, it's not cosmic dualism. See? So you can say, well, there's a dualism in that Satan and God are at odds. There's always that kind of dualism. If I play chess with one of my sons or grandchildren. There's a kind of a dualism in that he's on one side, I'm on the other. But it's not written into the structure of reality. But here's an eternal being whose deep essence is evil. The Bible knows nothing of that. That's pagan. There's no being whose essence is evil. They're making sense. But that's not true for cosmic dualism. And, you know, you can put the decorations around it like Zoroastrian religious traditions, but this is kind of like the core. So just like theism is kind of a conceptual core of of of the major Abrahamic religions. We've talked about that. So cosmic dualism is kind of like the conceptual core of at least a few of the ancient religions. Could be some modern ones. I'm not keeping up with two, but I can't think of any any really good examples right now other than Zoroastrianism and Manicheism.
But I mean, you think about what? What is Satan rational being? Yeah. Personal and relational. Yeah. Moral. Yeah. Freewill. Yeah. These are wonderful, God given attributes. Are those things evil? No. Is it being like that evil in its nature? No. Deeply good should never turn away. How about us? Racial beings? Yes. Personal beings? Yes. Relational beings? Yes. Moral free willed creatures. Yes. Yes. Being like that. Good. Yes. How about the fact that we're essentially identified with the physical body? That's good too. We're just so we share kind membership ontologically with Satan, personal, rational, moral, free will agents. We all did the exact same thing. We turned away. So, you know, the biblical story. I mean, Augustine worked really hard that we wouldn't interpret the gods Satan story as dualistic. Once he got out of that, once he became a Christian. And just just to go ahead and make that point on behalf of Augustine, since he's not really here to, you know, I can channel Augustine. Did you see Whoopi Goldberg channel Patrick Swayze in that movie Ghost in Her Eyes Robe? You know, I can do this. Okay. She paid for it all. She did. I know. But at any rate, for for, for for Augustan only God can bestow being. And so the creation is ex nihilo, right? That God brings being into existence out of. Nothing. And what God does is always good in its essence. So the essence of any being sense is created finite. Being at the hand of God is good, but the essence of rational moral. Personal beings includes free will with respect to God's purposes and his his directives toward us and his overtures toward us, just as it would have for any angelic being who happens to be not a bodily being.
An unarmed body being we happened to be bodily in our make up. But we are we all share this. Oops. Rational, rational, moral person. Whatever we want to put in as adjectives. So that this becomes the problem is, is what in the world would possess any any created finite being to rebel, to turn away from God? And that same puzzle goes for Satan or goes for every one of us. It goes for Adam, you know, it goes right theologically goes for Adam or it goes for every one of us. So the problem is no different logically in structure. We do have the great Milton Ian story. Which now has given us to the West, the Christian West, quite a template. To go back and impose it upon the Bible and stitch together verses. I'm not clear that the Bible would want us to stitch together everything from the fall of Lucifer. Right. And the Satan figure of job to die by loss of the New Testament to the serpent of Genesis. We've stitched it all together in a grand mal, Tony. An epic. I mean, really, I think the Christian West, the imagination about all this is really more male, Tony, in sometimes than it is truly biblically theological. But that could be a matter for further, further, you know, research than we can go into here. So Satan probably gets more credit than he deserves is what one result of. There probably gets more credit than he deserves. But what we're dealing with again, here is kind of like the whole cafeteria of worldviews from dualism. Meaning cosmic dualism. Pantheism is another one we mentioned. He often uses the word materialism, but in modern philosophical circles, we tend to be just a little broader, including materialism.
But we are a little broader and usually talk about naturalism and many natural materialists believing that nothing exists but material stuff. And some just have a more humanistic, pleasing way of saying it. But almost all of them are down deep materialism. I mean, he's got theism. What else does he have lined up? I can't think of any other worldview. Pantheism. But those are those are names of basic sets of concepts about what is real, what is ultimately real, what's the ultimate reality, What is our purpose in relation to that reality? How do good and evil get anchored, get indexed to that reality and see those questions? They will change as you go down through each of these broad, basic options. So we just talked a little bit about dualism, how good and evil get anchored to that. Oh, I remember last time we mentioned Lewis's criticism was it's hard to have an absolute standard of good and evil if you really believe good and evil in the universe are beings that are equally poised against each other, why should you prefer one over the other or think one is better than the other? That was the kind of thing Lewis mentioned. Pantheism. I think we talked about that last time. The idea that God is the hidden inner essence of everything. Its historical expression probably is best known in Hinduism. But Brahman is the soul, hidden soul of the world and permeates everything, including things we call evil, things we call good wolf gods able to do that. If the divine if the divine is able to do that, then gods not not gods, not bound by our moral categories of good and evil. If he can equally penetrate and pervade all things, you know, he's not bound by those.
And so you get the language in classical pantheism that God or Brahman is above good and evil. Good and evil then become human distinctions. But nothing really rooted in an ultimate reality. Remember in because this is all just spoken of philosophically in the Upanishads, but you can think of the Geeta in the Bhagavad Gita. Go to that little story about Arjuna, the great warrior on the night before battle, and he sits down at the campfire with his with his charioteer, whose name is Krishna, his charioteer. And he's sad and heavy hearted. And Christian says, Why are you, you know, low? And he says, Well, tomorrow we go into battle. And I know some of my relatives are on the other side, tribal things, you know. And Krishna, then there's an epiphany. And Christian reveals that he is the Lord Brahma. He's one of the many incarnations of Brahma. And so he says, Well, I need to reveal the truth to you is it makes no difference. Kill or be killed. You're acting like this is a moral situation and there's a right and an ultimate right and wrong and ultimate good and bad. But that's not the case. Kill and be killed. Just do your duty within the earthly context. Do your role, fulfill your role within your earthly context, and whatever happens has no ultimate significance because because good and evil aren't rooted in God. They're not written Brahma. Very interesting stuff. What else with the naturalism, Of course, if nature or physical nature is a supreme reality, it's really hard to know how you can generate any kind of standard of good that's anchored in reality. Because physical stuff. No offense. Impersonal, non-personal non moral, immoral, non moral, non relational all the things that we think in finite life we experience in ourselves.
So we're rational, moral, personal beings. But the whole the whole naturalist view of reality is that we come from an ultimate source that is non-rational, non moral and non-personal. I'm a native Hoosier and I've ever mentioned that before. I don't keep it a secret. I try to let everybody share in the wonderful insight that Hoosiers have. We used to have. We had a lot of sayings. One saying was water cannot rise above its source. Right. You have to go through all sorts of shenanigans to get water. Now, interestingly, water does rise above its source in Wilmore and every other city. With running water. We can put a cross on top of our source out here, several hundred yards away to the west on the water tower. But you have to go through all sorts of of of involved mechanics to get water pumped up above it so it can run down everybody's faucet when they turn on the faucet. But water just doesn't rise by gravity. It's not going to rise above it. Likewise, one could say metaphysically at the level of world views. It's really hard to know if you posit material stuff as the ultimate reality, non rational, non-personal, non moral in its essence, how we could get beings that are rational, moral and personal in our essence from that. Water seems to have risen above its source and it's really interesting. I've spent a lot of time through this past year going through different naturalist attempts to explain what person is. Based on their metaphysics, based on their view of what ultimately is real. It's very similar to trying to pump water up the water tower, go through all sorts of conceptual acrobatics to make sense of what a person is. And again, that's more detail than we can cover in a survey course on Lewis.
But as he's going through these different worldviews, it's not like they don't have contemporary relevance. These debates are still ongoing, and it's really hard for a materialist to or natural to make sense of a full and rich sense that we take personhood to be. It's that kind of, I think, recaps where we were last time at the end of the period and maybe kind of clarifies a little bit because he's saying among all of these options and there are others, he's just, you know, picked out this handful among all of these options, fee ism is looking pretty good. The idea that there's a God who in his own essence is deeply personal, moral, rational, relational. So it's not nearly quite the oddity that there would be finite, more rational personal beings arise. Maybe our journey has been a little more interesting, involved a lot more biological evolution, a lot more chance in us than we ever would have thought. But still, it makes more sense that the kind of being we take ourselves to be would be much more at home, much more natural of a fit. If this is a theistic universe and it's hard really to make sense of the kind of thing we are. In relation to these other kinds of universes, other kind of visions of reality, it changes. I think, what we take ourselves to be, no matter which one of these other options you. You take. I think at the very end of the period last time, Louis is trying to get Christianity on the table now that he thinks he's gotten theism, at least out there for discussion, that it's it looks like it's rationally respectable and certainly nothing that could be laughed out of court, particularly once he's discussed some of the foibles and some of the problems intellectually of some of the other options.
He wants to go from theism then to Christianity. And but he says in terms of living religions, that's going to be the one he wants to represent intellectually, philosophically. Explaining his way through and talking his way through some of its major theological points, just talking his way through them. But he knows that that Christianity is out there among the world's great religions, and he's not going to go into a detailed analysis of every world religion. And I think just to make sure people kind of know his general posture as ecumenical Orthodox. Classical Christian thinker. He makes that point, but he thinks they all represent the longing for God in their own ways. But God, who, as Augustine said, has built within us a longing for him. And we're going to continue to pursue that longing. But that has been packaged in so many different ways in the religions of the world. So he basically says, I'm not saying they're all wrong. I think I think there are, you know, sectors of the religious community in evangelical America that would like to say they're all wrong. But he says with respect to their ability to bring us to salvation. They have no power. I'm elaborating on what he says. He says. We know as Christians, as orthodox classical Christians, that nobody can be saved except through Christ. That's it, period. But he says, we don't want to make the mistake logically of moving from that belief, which is secure, to the belief that only those who know him deliberately, consciously and with some degree of doctrinal correctness. Can be saved through him. Just in a couple sentences there. We found those sentences. He's making an amazing point, I think, because he knows this deep problem. I don't think it's quite the problem of the.
But evil and suffering pose for the rational acceptability and the moral acceptability of Christian faith. Primary. One suffering, two always tops the list. Of objections. But the idea that. Countless millions of people around the globe and throughout history. Died without either hearing the gospel or hearing a credible presentation. You can hear the gospel, but it's not credible to you for whatever reason. There are a million reasons. Could be the one who's presenting it, and it could be because you're so in culture entered into your own tradition. And it may be your most religions are associated with cultural and ethnic. Groups. Whatever you're born into, you're almost certain to be that religion. And so your credibility function for our religion and what it says is really high. So even a presentation of the gospel, just because someone gives you a tract or something doesn't really mean, Oh, yeah, well, I've heard the gospel analogy. You may or you may not, it may or may not have filtered in and really had probative force. And we don't know these things. But what we do know is that countless millions have died around the globe and throughout history without either hearing it or maybe hearing it and it not having credibility for them, for whatever reasons. And that's just that's just the example of world religions, people in world religions. We're not bringing up other examples of infants who are born and die prematurely. They don't accept consciously either with doctrinal correctness. Then we get a chance to hear the Old Testament Saints. Didn't either. Really? The mentally infirm, you know, all those things give us other categories of our problematic here. The problematic is how the benefits of the atonement get applied, really, and in the infinite mercy and infinite justice of God.
And so beneath those couple lines in Lewis's book here, and there'll be another couple later, I can't remember exactly where they are on this point. Lie beneath those lines lies this whole problematic. And there are different sort of Christian options for how to address that. And he's addressing it right up front with just a couple sentences. And then he goes on and he says, We know that nobody can be saved through Christ. But what we don't know, i.e. because God is infinitely merciful and infinitely just. What we don't know is that only those who know him consciously and deliberately and with some kind of doctrinal correctness. Can be saved through him. I got a little passionate. Like I was a big problem. You got to have some reasonable, orthodox way of coming down on that. And I don't know a better one. I don't know a better one. The missionary enterprise, the evangelistic enterprise still remains intact with strong motivation. Why? Nobody's promising that If you don't hear God's God's going to save you. Maybe you love evil all your life. I don't know you know and and certainly mission izing and evangelizing means people who might never have gone that way in eternity now become persuaded and are drawn to Christ. These things we don't know. But one thing we do know is that life always goes better. It becomes elevated and enhanced. With Christ. The motivation, the proper motivation remains the same. I can't speak to improper motivations or scare tactics. Should I be silent and let there be commentary? Or are we good to go or have you? What? Whatever you say. But I just want to point out he when he writes a line or two you sometimes might not know is the tip of an iceberg.
When you read those lines and you kind of see that was behind them or sense that there was something behind. That's the way I take those lines. And Lewis. Tell us about the great divorce as well. Oh, that's true. Particularly the last battle is so dramatic. Yeah, you all know that, right, everybody? I mean, you're all lovers of Lewiston. You're on your way to becoming experts. And Louis. So remember the last battle where? As LAN and his forces are reclaiming Narnia and. The great warrior for the other side. Emeev knows that Aslan is about to take him. And so he he knows that the hour of the hour of his death. Is upon him because as the mighty Aslan is in his presence and he kneels, ready to meet his fate and as lands actually licks him on the forehead. You know, Iceland's a loving and I think I'm a loving. I'm not licking anybody on the forehead, you know, I'm saying, you a sloppy, wet kid. It looks at me and says, Rise, my son. And Emon says, Why would you call me your son? Why would you say this? I've served Tash the evil one all my life. See, we're not doing any of Lewis's fantasy. So this helps to bring in a little fantasy here and there. Make it more colorful, what we're doing. And as Lynn says. But you thought you were serving the good. Your heart was actually seeking the good, implying that there are others who associated with evil and they're not seeking the good. They're seeking evil. And so here's a person who did not consciously and deliberately follow as land in his life. And yet in the infinite mercy and justice of Aslan. He makes that decision about imminent.
You probably already familiar with that passage. But that's that's pretty amazing. Great. Of course, we're going to do the great divorce later in the course so we can bring these kinds of things up again. Personal decision, so on. Yes. Is that more employment possibility? The most materialistic naturalist say communist coming from a. What proper motivation could still be seeking because it is not in their rejecting, you know, I don't see that that's an impossibility. And you had to maybe add the context, make it more realistic. Guards put in each one of us a desire for him, for the good and so on. It could be that all the presentations of Christianity you ever heard are goofy. That can be that you didn't grow up with it, whatever, or something or whatever you heard was either goofy or unacceptable or more tribal or more cultural than a, you know, the broad inviting presentation that it deserves. You know. So all you got to deal with is what you know. There's no special burden, I don't think, on any given person. So I'm going to become I'm going to really start researching what appear to me on the surface to be goofy claims so that I can find out if maybe they're not as goofy. Who's got that obligation? Life is busy. A lot of pressures, a lot of stuff to do, you know. So I think I mentioned this in a previous class. I've got I've got this sort of hobby now going of trying to construct in my mind what I think the church, the believing community looks like to the thoughtful onlooking nonbeliever outside the church. And what kind of impressions are we giving off, What kind of signals and would they really do vary? Love the church.
It's God's purpose and to bring us kingdom. So I'm not trying to beat up the church, but we do, you know, sometimes close it upon ourselves, speak only lingo known to ourselves and expect the others to pick up on our vocabulary and know all the meanings we assign to it. All that. And I spend most of my professional life with people like that. You know, I teach at the seminary, but in writing, in scholarship, my associations are not with generally Christian people. My buddies that I write with occasionally, you know, they're going to be Christian, but not always. I mean, I'm doing this book with Michael Ruiz and I and. I can't remember I said this before, but on the first week of December I had to go down. I went to Florida State for a week. They were in a good mood. You know, they just hit number one in the football polls. Then about a month later, they take the title. They were in a good mood. They knew if they could. They could feel it. But be that as it may, that the SCC hey, we missed one title in football. Well, we'll start back here We'll pick up the string. Okay. But just it was it was a conference on enthusiasm. It was one of the nicest conferences I've ever been at. Wouldn't had to been depends on the mix But Michael had put this together and these were decent people who believed in dialog and exchange. But just hearing them talk about how Christian he looks to them, what they think it is, it was disturbing. We have work to do. And, you know, I just hang in there and talk with him about, you know. Well, that's not actually accurate or this or that, you know, And I'm I'm too old to be intimidated and too busy to worry about it.
So, you know. So there you go. And we are all we had just a ball. And some have the idea that Hebrew and Greek conceptions of God could never are incompatible. And so Christianity explodes conceptually because it does involve both. Greek and Hebrew. I mean, the whole Greek idea of system analyzation and perfection of the divine being is very much Greek. And then the Hebrew God who's seeking God and interpersonal, and that's very much Hebrew. So we had discussions like that. We had discussions about. The triumphalism and the exclusive ism that Lewis is talking about. Man, either you either you have you have religious luck and be born in a way that makes you receptive and have somebody preached to you in a way that that is acceptable. Religious luck. Or too bad. And they were saying that's really objectionable. And see a line or two like Lewis is saying really assuages some of that. Feeling that, Oh, God is infinitely merciful. He's infinitely just. He'll figure it out. But nobody, nobody is saved unless the benefits of the Atonement are applied to them. But we're not. We're not the ones who are taking the applications. Uh, okay. Well, anyway, anyway, this whole idea of how the church looks, I think, is really important for those going into ministry of various sorts in our day. Increasingly secular culture, increasingly hostile and harder and harder to get your message through all the filters. And how to do it. It may take giving up a lot of familiar terminology. It may take not exhibiting the kinds of behavior that gets put on the media. I don't know. Just to kind of be different. I mean, at Florida, you know, at Florida State, we were down there. They said you're pretty different.
I'm not I'm certainly not the world's best Christian or anything like that. But I do study not to use jargon and not to kind of come across. Easily, easily able to be stereotyped. And I think you also come across like you care about them. They're important. They have ideas. They have. They're just important as we are. And you can't be there just to proclaim or just to preach something. Just to be there. Just to be. And I got no magic formula. But it was it was really fun. I was surprised I came back to the president and others. How did that go? It was one of the best countries. Is a bit embarrassing. Oh, well, other commentary questions. Probably. We should take a brief break so that we can have the strength and endurance to come back and tolerate me for another 50 minutes. So do your best to fortify yourself and then come back.