C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 12

Mere Christianity (Part 9)

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. 

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 12
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Mere Christianity (Part 9)

Mere Christianity (part 9)

I. Personal Nature of God

A. Practical theology

B. Distinction between making and begetting

II. The Three Personal God

A. God is internally complex

B. To be a personal being is to be a relational being

C. To be “caught up” means that you participate in the “higher” kind of life and in the process you experience and become more of your true self

III. Time and Beyond Time

A. Timelessness view of God

B. Everlasting view of God

IV. Good Infection

V. Is Christianity Hard or Easy?

VI. Nice People or New Men

  • 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 9)

Lesson Transcript


We're going to book four, and probably my favorite part of the book is booked for. And once again, very interesting title to the book, which contains several rich chapters. The book is entitled Beyond Personality or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity. So basically, the thrust of these next several chapters is going to be to say that the Supreme being behind the universe as we know it is a personal being, and this being is eternal and becomes, in a sense, the prototype or the model for how we're to understand our personhood. And I know sometimes we say God is a person, and that's usually something that makes people uncomfortable in the theological community because we understand person from our context as something like us, we have a biological component, a physical dimension to what we are. So it's probably more accurate to say God is a personal being than to say God is a person. And Lewis really does come out and say God is a person either because it's better to say something like God's personal being. But Lewis is really is really sort of switching 180 degrees on how we usually approach the discussion of what kind of being God is, rather than trying to project what we understand of personhood on God. Lewis understands that we can't understand our own personhood fully the way it's meant to operate unless we've lost. We understand what God is as a personal being. So He really turns the tables. We're not projecting our personhood onto God, but we want to use what we understand about God's nature to help us enlighten our understanding about what we are. But anyway, he starts this section saying that this is going to be theological. I think there's some wonderful theology here.


Put in layperson's language. Tremendous theology. It's going to be theological. He says some people will say, well, don't give me theology, give me practical religion, just give me plain religion. And Lewis is basically saying you can't divorce theology from practice because theology is like a road map. In my previous remarks, I said, it's like you're focusing on a target. The more theology acts as a framework to describe the object of your belief. Your target becomes clearer and becomes more in focus, and it's much more likely you'll hit your target. But another metaphor could be theology is like a road map. And so he uses that image. He says theology is like a road map if you've got a destination. It's good to have a map. And maps are the products of lots of people's efforts. If it's a map of of the ocean, yes, because many people have sailed it before and they've mapped out how to how best to get to your destination, where the pitfalls are, that kind of thing. So the idea that theology is a road map makes it very practical. You might get to your destination without the map, but with a map it's much easier and you're likely to get there sooner in better shape. His first distinction. Then theologically, it's almost following the Nicene Creed, right? He says, We first have to realize that Jesus is said to be the only begotten son of the Father, and he makes the distinction between between making and begetting. Remember the creed he is begotten, not made. So the distinction between. Being begotten. And being made what God makes, what God creates. Is not God. He has the power to bestow being finite, being on things that are not himself. So whatever God makes are not God.


We remember the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo. God brings things into being that don't have eternal being. They don't have to exist, but they exist by his will. And according to his plan, he has that power. Things he makes. He created the heavens and the earth. So on. But whatever God begets. Is gone. So it's really kind of an ontological distinction here between making and begetting. That ontologically then if Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, He is of the same. Substance. As the father. So in Latin, of course, substance comes from the words sub and struggle. Or straw. Hurray would be the infinitive form to stand and to stand under. To stand under. So a substance stands under. That's a classical term and a classical concept. Long before the great councils wherever convened. Dates back to Plato and definitely to Aristotle. The idea that things have attributes and those attributes need a place to reside. They reside in a substance. So substance and attributes would be the thing in its characteristics. Now, whatever sort of thing Christ is. And whatever sort of thing God is. It's the same substance. Hormones are in Greek. So if we want to take substance from Latin and use the Greek. He's of the same substance of God and and therefore his God. So here's Lewis kind of flashing a little bit of theological sophistication. And his point is going to be partly and this will develop as as these chapters move along, is that whatever is made is creature really perishable, finite, all of those characteristics. We're the sort of thing as human beings who actually have a biological component, and we're intimately a biological beings as well as rational, moral, spiritual beings. And all of that is part of a realm or an order of things that is not eternal.


It doesn't necessarily even have to exist, but by God's will and his loving choice, it does exist all of these things. So what's begun, though, of God is eternal. Like he's eternal. It's not able to perish. It's enduring. It shares all the qualities of the life of God, love, joy, unending. The attitude. And so on. So as this develops through the chapters, this distinction of making beginning, he's going to kind of play out in the distinction between bias and Zoi in the Greek right. That biological being is made it's created doesn't have to exist. It exists by God's gracious choice, but it's perishable. It can't last forever. And yet it's the kind of realm we participate in. We're intimately connected to the biological world, which means we're connected around person. And so what shares the same substances God Christ, homo oca, same substances. God has the imperishable quality of eternal life and all of the attributes of love, joy, peace that are never ending, and they're infinitely nourishing and fulfilling. So the other Greek word he uses is Zoé, meaning the higher kind of life that's found in Christ. I need to turn off my phone here or. So the vision one way of one way of talking about the Christian vision for us is that by us is going to be caught up in the way that what is made is going to be and temporal and perishable is going to be caught up into transformed and fulfilled in what is not perishable, what is eternal, and will then share in those amazing qualities of love, joy, peace. So there's nothing there's nothing intrinsically immortal about a human being, not intrinsically. Now, when we get to a great divorce and other things Lewis has written, like the Weight of Glory, the sermon, weight of glory, he'll say, You've never talked to you never talk to a mere mortal.


There's one sense which were destined, the kind of thing we are as destined for something above mortality. But there's nothing intrinsic to us that just makes us live forever, is all dependent upon being caught up by God's gracious choice into his higher life. I'm giving I'm giving you just a little bit of the Peterson take on Lewis, because it depends on what passages you want to pick. You know how platonic he sounds or how much it sounds like he's he's saying we have an immortal soul and all that kind of thing. But right here, it's our creature leanness, our physicality, our biology, our animality, which we're married to. It's the kind of thing we are apart from that we're not a human being. It's like a human being is a soul encased temporarily in a body. And so when the body dies, we don't actually need it because the real person can continue in some ethereal mode of existence. That's not it. If that were true, why would there be resurrection of a physical body in the person of Jesus? So they write. He's got these themes going to lay out a kind of a template, his map, as he says. And he first makes the distinction between making and begetting. And then you can sort of see the parallel between biological life and spiritual life. Bias in Greek and Zoé in Greek. Having sort of laid that down in chapter one as kind of the groundwork. He then moves in chapter two to the three personal God. And as we say, God then becomes the model for understanding our own personhood rather than the other way around. So unlike the other three great Abrahamic religions, which are also monotheistic, classical Christianity is Trinitarian. So if you think about it, among the other three, the the other two theistic religions, to say God is internally complex is a real problem.


And that's exactly what classical Christianity says. Is that in his own being? God is complex. So whether you read the Shamar of Deuteronomy six or you read the various passages in the Koran that absolutely insist that God is one, the oneness is interpreted as no, no plurality at all. So what you have with Christianity is, is the kind of the the challenge that the early counsels faced of trying to come up with an articulation of how God is one and three and three and one. And we can't repeat all that here. But Louis is steeped in this kind of thing. And at the lay level in radio broadcasts, he's not afraid to try to get some of that out there. I think that's pretty amazing. It's one thing to try to talk about the gospel or accepting Jesus is another to get Trinitarian ism out, I think, you know, out there. But his idea then is that the Trinity is three persons, one being UCR substance O but three persons. And there's a sort of a logical implication of thinking of it that way. We can't go into any depth on this, you know, and retrace the, the debates of the great councils. But the Trinity then for Lewis implies that God inherently. Is a social interpersonal. Relational being. So he's getting at the idea that to be a personal being is to be a relational being, that personhood is somehow fully manifested and flourishes only in relationship. Very interesting theme. These would be lax. These would be defects in the monotheism that failed to get the Trinitarian point here. And then, of course, when you look deeper into what kind of relationship, you know, are we look are we talking about Lewis's is the kind of relationship of mutual other regard and self-sacrificing love.


So you look into the actual quality of the relations among the members of the Trinity gets a very intimate dynamic of of love and joy, of self-giving and self-sacrifice. That's the kind of characteristic of the relationships. Well, they say it's relationship. It's another thing to say what exactly is the texture or the quality of the relations going on within the divine life? So then this is the crisis. That's the great dance of deferring to one another, sacrificing for one another. That's the the dynamic of the inner life of God. His point then, but that he makes after that is to say that for humanity we have a certain end or destiny, or in Greek our telos, and it is to participate in that dynamic in the in the great dance of the universe. Mutual deference. Reciprocity. That's characteristic of God's own life. We were asked to participate in that dynamic. So Saint Gregory of Nazianzus is his voice is echoing when Louis talks this way because this is the pair of Croesus, the great dance that Gregory talks about. So our telos then is in that kind of life we currently have by us. Only God has zwei, the eternal, unending, joyful life that's inherent in the Trinitarian reality. And for by us, them to be caught up in the Zola, as we said a minute ago, is the ultimate goal. Now one of the points he makes here and he makes in other passages throughout his writings as well is what does it mean to be caught up? What was that mean? Does it mean we lose ourselves? For example, you can think of what the Hindus teach, and that is you're not really a true individual anyway. You really are always part of Brahman.


The great soul of the universe and the human problem is ignorance. That you don't know that. And the solution to human problem is enlightenment, so that you do learn that and that you realize that the goal of life is simply to merge back into Brahman, that you really never were separate and but you realized that that you're one. That realization is a higher achievement for classical Hinduism. Atman is Brahman. The individual soul just is the great soul. Atman is Brahma. So that's the sense in which you can be caught up in the divine, in the ultimate. But Lewis is saying there's another sense in which you can remain truly yourselves, but lose those characteristics that are damaging and constitute a bending and a warping of what you were truly meant to be. So the catching up in the divine life is a form of healing and wholeness and restoration. He's talking particularly of of individuals. But you could broaden the point to the whole cosmos, if you like. I think the themes are similar. They're not as maybe specific as they are toward human beings being caught up. But surely the universe is not a big discard for God and the various atoms that make it up. This would be a really interesting topic of conversation. Surely you're not a big discard that in some sense the whole cosmos is groaning and wanting some form of restoration. What that will be, I don't know. But it sure couldn't be just an elimination. Particularly since physicality, animality and the evolution that gave us evolutionary process that gave us Animality has now been caught up into the life of God in the fabric. One the God man. Why would everything that's connected to just be a discard? Really? That's an interesting question.


But aside question, compared to his point right now, and that is this reality that we are physical animal in one aspect of our being and yet rational, moral, spiritual creatures as well. What we are is meant to be caught up into the life of God. So the theme then in Lewis. Is will retain our individuality, been in our current state. We are not our true selves. We're not all the God business to be. We're not functioning totally properly. And so God's plan of redemption is a lot about getting us to function more properly as we were meant to. In other words, we should become, quote unquote, our true selves. Well, moving moving on to chapter three time and beyond time. Chapter three Remember, Lewis begins the chapter by saying that it's an unnecessary chapter in the flow of his thought here. And if you find it complicated or uninteresting, just go on. Skip it. Now, you don't have the luxury because this is an academic class. But I don't want to spend a lot of time on it myself. But I do think that one could note I disagreed with him about something like. Like. Like husband headship. And I also disagree with him here. He takes a timelessness view. A timelessness view of God. And I think it's worth just noting that out there in the philosophical and theological literature, there's at least one other broad alternative to a timelessness view, and I'll define them both. That's the everlasting, this view. Or as is given the words, is God everlasting or is God timeless? And how that's come to be thought of in the literature is timelessness has a lot of Greek antecedents to it. From Plato on that the supreme being of the universe cannot change his above time.


Augustine picked this up. Augustine thought that God. All past, present and future rolled out before him like a scroll. The textbook interpretation of Boethius is like that. And this has been a very dominant tradition. And Louis is. Is is sort of giving his allegiance to the timelessness tradition of the everlasting view of gods, Gods relation of time is that God is without beginning, is without end. But He experiences some. Somehow he experiences temporal flow, i.e. a succession of events as opposed to what you could see timelessness as a kind of frozen, immutable state, all with Greek influence. The timelessness gives you usually a pretty strong foreknowledge. Implication that God knows the cause of the past, present and future are all rolled out in front of God like a scroll. And in an instant He knows all crucially history from beginning to end. So he knows what will happen because to him it's just like present. For the Everlasting, this view. It hasn't even happened yet. How can it be present? And so the everlasting this people will say, Hey, the biblical God doesn't seem like the timeless God. He changes his mind, if you like, Arthur. Well, I like anthropomorphism as well as the next guy where you speak of God in human terms, you know. So how much do you make out of your anthropomorphic expressions in the Old Testament, for example, with God changing his mind or God having passion or anger or joy? Are these things that are not static states, but rather signify a a being who's more interactive with the temporal world? This takes us into subjects we just cannot explore in depth. But Lewis's allegiance to timelessness certainly contrasts with another major alternative that's out there. And I have a lot of sympathy for this alternative.


But it is too complicated, I think, to follow. In a survey course. We do this in 501 and piece 5a1, and it's largely but not exclusively in the chapters on divine action and case, because I'm sure you wouldn't have sold your five or one textbooks, you know. I've got to keep these. These are gems, you know, So it's in the chapter on divine action. So I think I'll take Lewis's advice now and just move on. But I did want to comment, put a little context on what he's saying. Um, I think maybe just before I do move on, I think partly what's at stake here and I always think I always think this is the question to come back to is what? How do I come down on one position among alternatives? One disorder item that I bring to the decision is how does it affect relationality? Because what's a relational god we're talking about? We're talking about that several minutes earlier and a relational universe that God has created. How does all that play out? If you assume timelessness, some version of timelessness or some version of Everlasting this. My own instinct is it plays out generally a little better over here on the other lessons, and I'm not come down real hard, but that be a direction for further study and discussion. And but I do think the relationality point is a good measuring stick. I really do. Moving right along the chapter on the good in section, I think there are some wonderful lines in this. In this chapter, for example, he that's when he really comes to explicitly call God the Divine Life, the great dance. Here's a here's a paragraph from the good infection that I just think are wonderful, because he starts out with the idea that God is love.


One of the most simple formulas I think we've ever learned in church or anything else. God is love. So he starts out with that. God is love. And love works through men, especially through the whole community of Christians. But the spirit of love from all eternity. A love going on between the father and the son. And now what does all this matter? He says it matters more than anything else in the world. The whole dance. That's the illusion to same Gregory of Nazianzus and the critic understanding of the inner life of the Trinity. The whole dance or drama or pattern of this three personal life is to be played out in each one of us. This is just a few paragraphs before the end of that chapter. It's a it's a great passage that the whole pattern of this three personal life has got to be played out in each one of us. Or putting it the other way around. Each one of us has got to enter that pattern. Take his place in the dance, for there's no other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught from a kind of infection. See, that's the title of the chapter. If you want to get warm, you must stand near the fire. If you want to be wet, you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to or even into the thing that has them. They're not a sort of prize, which God could, if he chose, just hand out to anyone. They're a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you.


If you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how he could. How could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what else could he do but wither and die? I think that's a great passage. I mean, several other passages that are just very quotable in Lewis, but that's a great passage. The idea that Christian life is not just being saved from the wrath to come, being forgiven, being justified by faith, whatever language you want to put on it. But it's got to be put in a larger context of where it's going, what's the trajectory, its participation in the life of God. Oh, let's see how we're doing here. The last couple of things I think we'll talk about then would be. How about moving? Let's move to Chapter eight. Is Christianity hard or easy? He brings up that same point we were talking about earlier. God wants to kill our sinful self, not to repair it, but wants to kill it. And so the command be perfect is meant by God to say we have to begin to function like we're meant to function. And all those desires, all those things that are wrong orientations. God has to kill in us. We cannot do it ourselves. Eustace could not take off the dragon scales. We cannot do it ourselves. Again, we're skipping and fleeting because of time. I like the nice people or New Men chapter because it gets us thinking about how much we judge on appearances, nice people or new men. And God's goal is that we become new people. But everybody has different personalities, different opportunities to develop who they are. And you could have some fairly rough people become new people.


And be on their way into life with God. But they still have more refinement to do. And you could have allegedly new people who don't let God do some of the repair work, and they're happy to have fire insurance and to be saved. But they maybe had the gift or the blessing of good background and the good personality. But that has nothing to do with their salvific condition. And so they could be sort of coasting. On. Good luck, personality, background, whatever we have to penetrate in our thinking. Lewis is saying beneath all that and realize we're always looking for the newness of life that can come packaged in so many different personality profiles. That's the short version. We could discuss much more. But I think we actually have run out of time. We will not see you next week. So you're probably inconsolable with grief. But I'll see you the week after. Take care.