C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 10

Mere Christianity (Part 7)

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.

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 10
Watching Now
Mere Christianity (Part 7)

Mere Christianity (part 7)

I. Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

II. Review

III. Christian Marriage (cont.)

IV. Forgiveness

V. The Great Sin

VI. Charity (Christian Love)

VII. Hope

  • 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 WorldviewIt 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 7)

Lesson Transcript


Okay, time to begin. I thought I would bring in a book just to show you. I've had this book maybe for close to 20 years. It's in a second edition now, and I don't have the second edition. Have you ever seen this book Scan The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noelle. And Mark, when he wrote this was a professor of history at Wheaton. And he's now, of course, been glorified and gotten a distinguished chair, I believe, at Notre Dame. And there's been Notre Dame for, I don't know how many years, probably the better part of this decade, I think, or something like that. Mark is a church historian, and in this book he talks about the evangelical movement in America. And since we're in a course on C.S. Lewis, who is using his mind, his mental gifts, his education in the service of Christ, I thought it would be interesting to look at a title like this, that there's a scandal excuse me, a scandal of the evangelical mind. And, of course, no is not trying to beat up on evangelicals in America. But he has this this criticism about their posture and their attitude toward the life of the mind. So he starts out by saying this The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind and extraordinary range of virtues is found among the sprawling throngs of evangelical Protestants in North America, including great sacrifice in spreading the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, openhearted generosity to the needy, heroic personal exertion on behalf of troubled individuals. And he goes on with the countless virtues, with the countless good deeds, with the very positive projects that evangelicals back. But he starts the second paragraph then, like this, Despite dynamic success at a popular level, modern American evangelicals have failed, notably in sustaining serious intellectual life.


I won't go any further. But his point, his point, I actually sort of got two levels, two layers. One is being a church historian. He's going to go to those times in the history of the church when there was broad social consensus about Christian truth. And he picks out a couple of those times just as examples. And he does think that that is probably not possible any longer, having broad social consensus. And then he takes the message really to the individual level, working individuals, maybe in smaller groups or as I say, just as individuals. What can we do to have a more positive, affirming attitude toward intellect, toward academics, and how can we sharpen our own intellects, use our education in the service of Christ in ever so many different callings? But he notices that instability historically in the evangelical community about not sure how much emphasis we should give to intellectual things. And then he's, of course, writing a book saying basically is I'm not I'm not hostile of the event to the evangelical movement movement. I'm a I'm a product, he says of the evangelical movement. But he says they have this one characteristic of being a little ambivalent about what they think of the life of the mind as God's gift and another way we can serve him. And he says, that's a true shame. He actually starts the book by saying this is an epistle from a wounded lover as one who is in love with the life of the mind. Why not? It's God's gift, among many other gifts, but one who has also been drawn to faith in Christ through the love of evangelical Protestants. So I find myself in an in an odd situation in the process community where wounding is commonplace.


You're using your mind too much. Don't ask questions. Just have faith as though faith and an intellectual process are sort of at odds. And so the book starts with those kinds of sentiments, and I just thought I'd share it with you, because when you come to Lewis, it's like he's not battling a lot of those things, these unfortunate and unnecessary dichotomies between faith and reason, life of the mind and practical expression. These are in much more of an organic unity and in. Lewis But they ought to be in some ways because of his Catholic and Anglican framework as opposed to a framework which we could describe both theologically and sociologically within the American context as having its own peculiarities that give it a little bit of an anti-intellectual ism that Louis would not have. And so in a way, studying Louis then gives us an opportunity maybe to just look look at things a different way. There are so many signals being sent from the evangelical community. We're all parts of that, I take it. But there are different subsets and different groupings within the evangelical community, and I think we have a real privilege being in one that's not so stamped, so imprinted by some of the characteristics that Mark is is talking about in his in his book. And then it's one thing to say, well, we're not stamped by those, but what are we, you know, sort of framed by. And I think Louis is a good model and his Catholic Anglican approach is a good model and I thought would be an appropriate little meditation for today. Well, let's pray and we'll we'll get into things. Father, we thank you for this day. The beauties of the fall. Pray that you would give us all strength and perseverance as we move through a busy semester.


Be with us in this class that we use it and everything we learn in it. For your glory. In everything that we do. Pray for each need represented here in each need that each person here knows about and is concerned about that in some way. You be in all of those situations. Lord be with us now in this hour, in Christ name, we pray. Amen. Well, just a few preliminaries. One is I'm still going to have to be gone next week. And I know there could be weeping. And I think biblically speaking, gnashing of teeth. Is that the way they are? There you go. So I. But I'll come back and all will be well again, sort of. No, that's too much of a of an scatological frame for. I'm just going to go away and come back. Okay. I was moving toward eschatology and I wonder that anyway. Big be gone next week. And I do believe the exam is. I don't have the syllabus in front of me, but I've said it to open up for a range of dates and you guys are on top of that. So you can work on that exam when the time comes. If anything comes up while I'm away. Probably won't be able to access email. I'll. I'll just recommend this. If something comes up in the exam, it looks like it's a problem or the exam doesn't operate correctly or something like that. Do your best on what's within your power. And when I come back, I'll hear about it and then I'll try to fix it and adjust it. But all will be well. All will be just and fair. But I think it's I think I've done this many times. And that exam, I think, is is in good shape.


You know, it's automatic. It opens up online and but just in case, I thought I would mention that link. Can you think of anything at this point that ought to be discussed about procedure, where we're headed, that kind of thing? Relatively self-explanatory in the syllabus, I think. Okay. Well, going back to where we left off last time, we're in this chapter by Louis on I'm not chapter, but he really calls it a book on Christian behavior. And if my memory is correct, we left off with me making some cutesy little remarks about which is my most fun thing to do, is make cutesy little remark about the model of marriage that Lewis projects. And you know, I love Louis and I read through Christianity and I, I pick up on a couple of things. He uses the old antiquated term for Muslim as a mohammedan. That's got to go away. Okay. Then he makes this comment about marriage that that the divine pattern for marriage is the husband will be head of the household and and all of that. And I think we left off at that point. It seems to me, though, that that might need just a little more commentary. We're headed toward an amazing Trinitarian vision at the end of this book. I mean, I'm sure you guys are already ahead of me. You've I mean, it's not that long of a book. I'm just lecturing behind where you're of already read. I know that. So imagine trying to envision where such things as mutuality, reciprocity, self-giving, love, amazing humility are are characteristic of the divine life. And without spending a lot of time on it, I think it's very fair to say that biblically there's no other earthly reality or earthly institution that is used to suggest our relation to God more than earthly marriage, monogamous, heterosexual marriage.


And it's a model, it's an ideal. And all people experience that in varying degrees and circumstances, meaning not always as the ideal exemplified, but as an ideal. Then you look at the Trinitarian model that God's inherently relational. We'll get to that a lot later, but it is inherently relational power destroys relationship. And Lewis comes in with this just two or three lines on husband headship. That's a power trip, in my estimation. And so to amplify my my little ending remarks that I have the best, I think this is really giving too much credit to has been headship models. It was second best compared to a model of mutual self-sacrifice, of oneness, of diversity and gifts, diversity in in, in natures in so many ways trying to be blended into one. Now, that's that's a that's a symbol of our oneness with God. So Lewis, I think, just unwittingly offered an opinion that had so little basis in biblical and theological thought that it's a hiccup, it's a mistake. When we get to his his grief observed book where he's talking about the death of his wife. I couldn't imagine he still held that view of marriage after he got married. You know what I'm saying? And and actually lived and loved another person, lived with and loved another person. So, at any rate, it's a political model to say, hey, if you can't make a decision, somebody is going to have a tie breaking vote. I wouldn't it would never occur to me to think that's a real big deal, that you've got to have some mechanism for a tie breaker. Why? I mean, we're going on our 40. How many years we've been married? We're in our 45th, and we. And I've never. Why would I do that? I don't have to.


I don't have the power. It's not a biblical thing. I've got physical power. But why would you do that? Why would you think that's a really good thing in a Christian sense? Power destroys relationship, and we're moving toward a concept of a relational god and an amazing vision of Trinitarian theology. So insofar as marriage reflects that power is the last thing you want inside of marriage. So I'm saying so that's why I objected to it so strongly. It's power destroys relationship. And when you take your wedding vows, you're told this is life's most tender relationship. And then the imposed power model seems so, you know, in direct contradiction to that. So I write up some of these comments in the notes, and but I thought I would I would just put a little flesh and blood on them by going ahead and connecting with what we said last time and then going forward through your hand a minute ago. Yeah, I was just saying and it also was I was just trying to find it because I thought it was I like when you said that it's just kind of thrown in there and it's right at the end and it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Yeah. And then it goes right to forgiveness, which I it goes right to forgive. But, you know, you're looking at the forties in British societies, very structured, particularly in the forties in that era of time. He's a bachelor. He's a male. How convenient. You know, so that seems good to him. Hey, there are whole Protestant, very conservative demographics that go for this. And I have I have friends, actually, I have to say, you have friends not. Let me finish my sentence. I have friends who are in psychological research.


They say it's pretty well known that a dominant power sort of model for marriage is is very destructive. And it and there are actually documented abuses that are more frequent within that model, such as it's called the Family Secret. And it leads and it's associated with incest, spousal abuse, other things. But there's a lot of people that are very needy in a system that thinks husband headship is a great thing. Yeah, I'm a little bit behind every reading this book, but there's been talk about the whole notion of the crown being a symbol of authority, but then also referring to it as a paper crown and. I think there is a side, too, where you see references that power is being connected to how Christ was. Yeah, me, which is power. I have no recollection of that. Does anybody have a recollection of that? No. I want to touch on some of my own thoughts as well. But I you know, I could be there, but I have no recollection. He did say something about it being like a paper crown. But, uh. Hmm. But, you know, my my point was, like, he frames it as What if two people want two different things? There has to be a tie breaking vote. And my one of my responses, if you have a relational model, mutual self-sacrifice model is, number one, if you're merging two psyches ever more together, usually decisions for the for the married couple will just emerge and there won't be this cross-purposes anyway. But if there are cross-purposes, even in a very benign way, one wants this. One thinks it should go in a different direction. Why should one person come in with power and say, But it'll be this way? Some of the rationalization is, Well, if you've got the power, you can still use it to do what the other person.


But you still got the power. You can use it to do what the other person wants. It is often replied. But I would say, But you still have the power, Still a power model. And what you don't want inside any relationship is power. Yeah, I know a lot of people in the communities you're describing, and usually they will say that it's not a matter of power, but it's a matter of male 40 years in authority. Well, they say authority, but that they have a higher responsibility for the relationship. Yeah. Yeah. And so has to sacrifice. What do you say to that? Well, I think it's still it's still it's still a discussion. That's one more move in a discussion that's framed the wrong way anyway, that I just like saying, well, the male the husband has the power to do what the wife wants, but he's got to consent. And, um. Yes. Just as Christ sacrificed for the church, the husbands sacrifice. All that's good. In theory, I just don't see elevating the husband. I just don't see it in a in a real Trinitarian model in the most intimate. You're going to lose some degree of intimacy and some degree of fulfillment. Unless you're equals with different gifts. You're both knowing that you're incomplete and there's a completion that takes place, a mutual need and a mutual fulfillment. Seeing it that way is revolutionary and transcendent of all. In my view, the squabbles within the really fairly conservative Protestant community. And so just the process, some of this is just culture bound, you know, models of marriage. And you look around the world and all so many different cultural models of marriage and so on. I get all that. But if you're saying what what is sort of the emerging truth or insight that would seem to be more or less enduring and not so culture bound, I think I think we're we're getting at it is if if if marriage is to be one to being.


That's different from some kind of internal hierarchical structure that usually is reflecting cultural preferences and all that. But I mean, when you're. Yeah, go ahead. Go through the cultural boundaries within the spiritual text. Oh yeah. Our yeah. Like, like when Paul's statement wives be subject to your husband's and so on. I don't see how you can. You've got to read the scripture with that cultural context and say, okay, we can't absolute ties all the cultural clothing that it wears. We have to always be using X-ray vision, good hermeneutics, and so on, in order to get something that's more enduring and lasting and transcendent out of those passages where you can feel, you can feel the culture, you can feel the cultural impulses to the Corinthian womens don't wear short hair, you know, the prostitutes wear so implicitly. The prostitutes wear short hair out in Corinth, which is a shipping town, and then they can readily be identified. So was Christian women. Don't you get all whole denominations that say women can't cut their hair, you know, and they're you've absolutist are a cultural feature. And we just I think I'm how do we look for what's more enduring and more transcendent. That's. That's one. What I'm getting after. I mean, we could go. You know, we've got to finish the book today, by the way, but. But we could go into so many little rabbit trails that are important, but there's no time. And so I hope that some of you would say, I really am interested in pursuing this topic further or that topic further. I mean, the whole idea of sexuality as biological dimension is really interest and and the fact that heterosexual marriage is the model, you know, perhaps that needs some further elaboration in our day.


All persons are equal in that they bear God's image, all persons, and we all have different forms of incompletion or damage or lack in our lives. But that doesn't take away from what is an ideal. Yes. You don't say something big at all. That just a few paragraphs before he wrote about the churches. I guess two kinds of marriage are just one recognizable state. The one true part about divorce and stuff. Just how how do you think he would kind of view that now nowadays regarding same sex marriage? And if they're not don't claim to be Christian. Yeah, don't profess to want that but they want to be recognized by the state. You know, should we as Christians, after we view that and how should we. Yeah. Or just leave it long way or. Boy, I don't know if I could channel Lewis on that point. He's very much for affirming the equal standing of all people before God as created in God's image. So the equal value, equal standing. But we're all damaged and all damaged in different ways, so to speak. We all have different lacs, different incompletions in our life. So the whole human race is longing for greater wholeness, healing and completion and goes eschatological, you know, activity. But you're right. He does make the distinction between what the state recognizes and what the church recognizes. Knowing Lewis and knowing he's a classicist and knowing he has a good dose of philosophical realism. I think he would say you're playing with the meaning of words. For one thing, that marriage can't mean that. Now, if you say you're going to create another animal civil union that the state can recognize, I don't know what he would say. I suspect that's our society is headed there, I think, or or beyond to go ahead and calling it marriage.


It just can't be marriage. It's marriage has a nature. If you're a realist, you know, things have natures. The nature determines the kind of thing they are. And marriage refers to heterosexual union. And so but we're a lot of a lot of what goes on politically in this country is just playing with words like you get up and say, we destroyed, you know, al Qaeda. Then you realize you didn't. So you just rename the group another name. I can't say the name them Kardashians or what if what they call it was cake. Good song. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Khorasan or something. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, Well, you shouldn't have made the big claim. So I say Lang Lang, it's like Michael Cole, the postmodern thinker, was so influential and still remains very influential. Has a really interesting article called The Political Manufacture of Truth. The Political Manufacture of Truth. And so you call something marriage long enough, you know. But I think Louis would give some static over the use of language to refer to different kinds of realities than what it was originally meant to refer to. But he might let the state go on its way. I don't know. You can say, well, you know, the state's going to go on its way, but but you can't Christianize something that the word doesn't mean anyway. So you've got more than just a Christian question. You've got to a reality and language question as well. You know, I wish you know, I wish we could have more time to do a lot of this kind of thing. That's an issue that's big in our society now and of course, big in the church as well. But we have to move on because this is a Lewis survey course, so we have to move on.


Well, again, this is a this is a a book. Book three on the Christian Life. Christian behavior, he calls it. I call it Christian life. And let me just go through some of the other chapters. We'll hit the high points. And if we get stuck on some point, we say, let's discuss this a little bit more. We can we can discuss a little bit more. I'll just have to play the whole class like an accordion and see I know where the end of it is and we'll have to see how much we can. A lot time for various topics. But the next thing he brings up is the idea of forgiveness. This Chapter seven, Chapter seven on forgiveness. And he says, this does not mean that you must like or have fond feelings toward everybody, but that every person has value made in God's image. And forgiveness is to recognize that they are due the same kind of consideration we are due when it comes to not holding a grudge or not holding hate or not being condemnatory. It's a recognition of the equal values of selves. If you think about it, look at the two great commandments. Look at the second of the two great commandments. Love your neighbor. There's a stop there as yourself. So you get something in the equation. My self has value. I have a certain value I place on myself. And most of us tend to, you know, be immediately aware of how much we value ourselves. So it's love thy neighbor as of equal value, just as important a person to God or anybody else as we are. So just a little chapter on forgiveness. And I do note in the notes this reminds me of of a sermon I'd like to preach sometime called The New Testament Trap.


That is, unless we forgive. We will not be forgiven. Good measure of people's psyches in a sermon like that. Right. Well, given that we kind of spent a lot of time on the marriage topic. I'm going to kind of move a little faster hitting high points and we'll stop and pause and and discuss at some other points. But moving from forgiveness, the next chapter is chapter eight, The Great Sin. And he's a classicist. I mean, among many other things, he's a he is a quite the classicist. So he takes the medieval view that there are sort of chief sins, major sins, and they can be named and they go to character traits that are negative and destructive. And the chief among these sends the great sand. The greatest sin is pride. And that stems from, he says, not having accurate knowledge of the greatness of God in comparison to our self. And I don't have any trouble taking the sort of classical line that the root of all our sins might well be. Pride. That's a a dramatized picture we have had of this issue, at least since the great poet John Milton was Satan's pride, not having himself. Is so sort of self-concept properly related to God and his role. He became rebellious. And so Milton has told us there's this idea that free beings who are created good by God can freely overestimate themselves and leave their role, leave their proper relationship, and depart from that in rebellion. And that pride is at the root of that. I usually don't think in these terms, you know, but if you have to say what's the root of maybe, maybe pride, I don't know. I'm not trying to make a big argument for that. But remember the some of the others, I don't know if I can get them all in the Seven Deadly Sins.


The Medieval thought this way Gluttony, lost wrath. I'm trying to think so. I don't think I've ever. I saw National Geographic once with this tree animal that they call a two toed sloth. And so but yeah, the sloth in the I believe is on Sunday. Right. You see what I'm saying? These are are the seven deadly sins. Chief among them classically was thought to be pride at the root of all the rest. Not having one self out of relationship overestimation inflated inflated self-concept of who we are and God's economy. I have a friend, Rebecca de Young at Calvin, and I do have friends no matter what you think. I have friends in Grand Rapids, but Becky has done a book that's been out a few years now called The Glittering Vices. The Glittering Vices. And the subtitle is something like. The different ways. There's too long of a split, but the different ways the these vices look appealing to us. Glittering. And. And the answer to that. The solution to that. How to remedy the fact that pride can seem so appealing. The narcissism of pride and so on. So it's a great little book. She's a professional philosopher. Her father, her middle name, her maiden name is named Ike. So her father was kin. I know I knew him a lot better than I know, Rebecca, but I do like her work. I really do. And Ken died. Oh, gosh. 15 years ago or more. I don't remember. Really. Tall, blond Dutchman, Konyndyk, fair skin and guts, skin cancer, as I understand it. And it. It took him. You don't get it diagnosed. Do you know anything? So he was one of our planning. His first students and Al wrote his obituary for faith and philosophy.


Very, very nice comment that Al made about because it was a long, painful death. And Kim retained such a fantastic spirit through all of this that Al says I was Ken's teacher because in these last few months, Ken became my teacher. How you face something so hard with faith and grace? That's a great line. Yeah, I was just wondering if we reduce like prudence and you talk about pride and what's the solution? Reality. Yeah, I would say that's actually reduced. Yeah, well, I mean that that could take us into a lengthier and more involved conversation than we have time for as well. But it's a good question. I do not have her book. I have not read her book, but I like her stuff and I'm going to buy that book. Actually, I just looked at on Amazon, I knew it was there. Um, I thought before I come to class, I'm going to at least recommend some of you might want to consider that You never know what kind of sermons you can get. You don't want your sermons to sound archaic like they came out of the Middle Ages or something. You know, I'm going to talk about the seven deadly sins, but she talks about the glitter, the glitter of it, that sin can seem so fascinating, you know, and and really appeal to our egos. And it should be just the and really goodness can seem so boring and banal, you know. But yeah pride we have to the proper measure of ourselves so you don't have to think that you're a worm. You're a human being in God's image, but you have a role and certain activities and certain attitudes are appropriate to your role in God's kingdom. And when you have overweening pride, your activities and your attitudes don't reflect your proper role.


They reflect an exaggerated role. But to be penetrated by God's grace and to have one's personality, one's desires, one's aims and objectives realigned, transformed is part of the whole, I think solution and pride is going to have to be part of that. I think that's where you have to head. Yes, as I understood it, it was also the time that the first priority, the nature of competitiveness, of being competitive. So it's really contrasted in comparison. Do something with high rises. You have a good point. The is a little bit about the. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I think there's room for competition in human life. Properly conceived competition. It's. I think it's largely when the valley, when you're competitive about the value of yourself. I mean, I play games. I love basketball. I could do I could do cartwheels that we got this grant here at the seminary on capitalism and Business and Free Enterprise. And you guys know about that. And so I'm not against all competition. I think Louis probably would not be either. The competition about my ego value comparison to others, I think is probably more accurate. Yeah. What do you think? Well, I think Louis says that when my when my when I feel good. Only because I am better than someone else. Yeah, that. So it's get in order. I got to feel good. It's some hesitancy, but it's the self out of adjustment, you know, It's the self out of proportion. It's not what we should have no self. It's we need to have a self that's whole and being damage it has to be healed. It's like if you pull it, but it stops. I thought when I was reading that that they go, that is not blind.


And the only reason I'm feeling good is because my car is better. Yeah, for no other reason. I don't have that feeling of pulling up at a stoplight thinking my car's better than yours because I drive a sissy van. Drives for me too. And I mean, we have so many grandkids now and all, and we have different sized car seats other than the front two captain's chairs in the van. And you got all these. And my son has it. So I'm embarrassed. I mean, in my mind, I like to drive a big SUV with with with muddy, big tires. And I would like to do that. I can't I was not practical when we have all these grandkids. I mean, I can go into Kroger, you know, come out with bags and bags of groceries. And if they're guys with big trucks near my van, I act like I can't find my car. I don't seem to get in it. I don't I bet that's pride. It's a kind of ego out of out of adjustment. I know, I know. But, you know, again, in case there are sermon series here with seven dead, seven glittering vices, the cold classical discussion of this was divided into trait two character traits that are negative and destructive or character traits that are uplifting and and make you more fulfilled as a person in God's image. And so just like there are seven deadly sins or vices, there are seven virtues. And we talked about those already because Louis Louis structures, earlier chapters around, you know, the four, the four classical virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. And then he adds the three Christian virtues faith, hope and love. And he gets the seven virtues to contrast with the seven deadly vices.


And but I would take Becky's book, Glittering Virtues, and do another little twist. She's right. How evil can look glittering and we can get drawn into it, you know, And I won't go into all that. But any any person doing a sermon or whatever can probably flesh out and amplify what that means. But how about this? The Seven Deadly Virtues. Why couldn't why couldn't the virtues just with a little twist, just with a little, um, modification in how we demonstrate them, also be vicious. When you're virtuous and you know it. It's just not clear that they, on their own, the virtues, can exclude the vices, that the vices can come in in sort of a stealth way to the virtues if you're not careful. So I thought that would be an interesting caveat, just to mention, I think that would preach. Be an interesting line to take. Well, moving on from the great scene of Pride, we've had that discussion which took us to the seven deadly sins, as well as the Seven Virtues. Again, he does talk about the in the next chapter, charity or Christian Love, which to translate what I think he's saying out of that chapter is love is not a feeling of an affection in the in the classical Christian sense, because you may you may have different feelings toward people, but we're commanded to love them, which has to be something like a principled valuing. And principled valuing doesn't necessarily involve good feelings. It may. It may not. Another point I think that comes up near the end of that chapter, at least a thought that I jotted in my notes. Is that God's love? I think there's a passion to God's love and those kinds of things we could discuss in another context.


But at this point, I'm thinking of his principle. Valuing doesn't value anybody in his image, no matter what their economic status or or social condition or no matter what sins they've committed, nobody has less value. There's a kind of a principled valuing that God engages in now that valuing on God's part. This is a theme in Lewis runs throughout lots of his writings that valuing on God's part is so relentless that it will never rest until we are cured of what makes us sick. Can say, Oh, to cure you. This is going to be tough. It's going to be hard on you. So I'm going to back off because I'm kind when this is not kindness. This is love. And so in a number of Lewis's writings, the the penetrating, purifying love of God is the theme. And it might mean that the object of his love us has to go through some hard times in the cure. In the remedy. Right. So Lewis does this a couple different ways in Christianity that God may hurt us, but he will never harm us. Says that problem of pain as well, that whatever it costs, the goal must be our cure. And however difficult a patient we are may, you know, influence how difficult the cure. Will it make any sense? Do you remember and this is in Caspian, right in the in the seven Narnia Chronicles in Prince Caspian. That's where Eustace is enchanted and made into a dragon. In my right, it is in that is. What am I just say. I'm. That's. That's right. That's right. It's in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And do you remember that's a kind of. Of prison for Eustace? It's a it's a condition that he cannot free himself from.


And what Lewis uses is the image of as lambs claws. Scraping off the dragon scales and painful. Again, continuing that theme in literary style there that whatever the cost, God can't do otherwise than will our total cure. So out of fear and cowardice on my own part, I'm recommending we get with the cure as much as we possibly can. I mean, think about it. We should say this when our children were were growing up that, you know, adolescent males in particular seem like don't always want to listen. And I say, you guys, you got like three options. You can listen to good advice from your parents and other wise people. You can observe the world and figure stuff out on your own, how you should act or you can suffer. I don't know. I don't know. Three ways of learning and being taught life lessons. Think of another. I don't know any other options. So the ideal is maybe we can minimize our suffering in Lewis's line of logic here by getting with the cure. Moving on to the chapter on Hope. We're moving at a pretty good pace. I feel pretty good about the pace. I'm moving. You guys try to get me bogged down on sexuality, and I didn't take the bait. And we're actually having momentum here. We're making progress. Lewis says that hope means looking toward the eternal world, always looking toward continually looking toward the eternal world. We have to quick add this does not mean neglecting the value and worth of the temporal created world. In fact, it seems to me that in Lewis we have a little bit of a hermeneutical sort of a hermeneutical challenge. I know how I would settle the challenge, but I understand the challenge is there.


How? And that is with books like The Great Divorce and Other Things, Lewis says, and others are the writings. You can get the idea there's an eternal world and there's the temporal world and. They're really almost compartmentalized. They're so different. And there's a one sense in which that's true. And when we get to great divorce, we can elaborate. On the other hand, in Lewes. Most people, I think, take the more dualistic interpretation. I think, though, that there's another interpretation that has dual elements. Good and evil are always incompatible. There's a duality, but good and evil duality is not the same as eternal and temporal duality, and that there's nothing inherently evil about the temporal world and that the temporal world is destined to be caught up in, healed and transformed by the eternal world. So that's not an irreconcilable duality. Yeah, I think it's very fair for Louis as a Catholic and Anglican views to say the temporal world should be shot through and through with the eternal world. It's all like it's a discard. We want to get past the temporal so that we can experience nothing but the eternal that's coming. But the other theme, and Lewis will do this a little bit more later, is heaven symbol for the eternal work starts a.s.a.p, a.s.a.p. Here now is participation in the life of the Trinity, and we invite you to start doing that now and get involved in the great dance. So hope is always looking toward the eternal world, but we don't want to interpret that kind of sentiment as diminishing the value of the temple because the temple's destined to be caught up in and healed. I don't lose that kind of language for Louis. If you think of some of his other books we're not going to read in this course like The Four Loves.


You see that there are temporal loves, things we love in the temporal world that are perfectly legitimate. And the key is that they be appropriately adjusted in the in God's scheme of things. Have you ever heard sermons or Christian presentations like this? You have to love God first. And then there's a list. And love God first. And then maybe other second. That's pretty typical. And then self last. If it's a list of three or you know, if you're big, environmentalists love the environment third and yourself last and humanity class or whatever it is. So now I'm just messing with you. But God, others self is a pretty typical pattern. I've never understood that totally. And I'll say why in a second. From the point of view of C.S. Lewis or things like this, do you love your wife more than you love God? That could be a problem. See that kind of thing? I just think that sort of subject needs more analysis and bringing a Lewis type analysis. He's will say, Hey, in the created order, there are various created things that appropriately call for our love. And these are natural. These are part of our created nature. They're the natural loves. And in God's order. The key is to give love to each thing according to its nature. So when somebody says, Do you love your wife more or God more, I say, I don't understand the questions. No legitimate question. I'm calling God's order to love my wife to the maximum I can possibly love with the kind of love that we call spousal love. I don't love God with spousal love. So it's apples and oranges. So with everything appropriate to spousal love, we're to love our spouses to the maximum in relation to love of God with a kind of love appropriate to God.


Love God as much as we can. So the answer, the proper answer is you want to maximize all the loves. But make sure that they're appropriate to the kind of thing you're loving. So if I. But if I love my spouse with a love that's really appropriate to God is really out of bounds to proper spousal love, then there's something dysfunctional. I absolutely agree. But just on the face of it, the idea that the loves of life, the loves of different things in God's created order are competitive or dichotomous, I think is an illegitimate starting point making sense. And of course, that's a creation point. It's a creation point that in creation there are different things that we're naturally to love. Creation is damaged in a wholesale way in more ways than we can count. So now we do have tendencies to get our loves out of adjustment, love, money, like you should love God, you know, or what I'm saying. So part of the redemptive process is the healing of the natural love. There's nothing wrong with the natural loves, but they need to be healed and reframed and redeemed. How are we doing for time? Oh, gosh, it's 205. I think we probably need a break. You guys need a break from my huffing and puffing for a little while. Seems like there's a few amends out there. Okay, let's do 10 minutes and we'll be back.