Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gems from CS Lewis

Awhile back I mentioned reading some CS Lewis and I finally have a spare moment so to post up a couple of snippets. Good gracious, how I love the dry no nonsense way the British sometimes have about them.

I laughed out loud when I read the first snippet that I'm posting up - was on the MRT and I'm positive the aunty standing near me shot me an uneasy look and edged away (as far away as you can get on an MRT train pretending to be a can of sardines, anyway).

The second is just simply true. In this day where self help books abound and the pulpit has become psychologized and drained of theology proper, people often equate Christianity as another self help remedy, Christ as the giver of feelings of psychological well being and church as a social gathering place. The human need for redemption is not lessened by a pleasant personality, a vegan diet or driving a hybrid car with a save the whales sticker on it.

Decades before it happened, Lewis crystallized it into one sentence: Mere improvement is not redemption.

On the contrary, improvement comes after redemption, from gratitude and from repentance. But even then, sanctification is called a process..because well, it is a process. It'll take your whole life. As Lewis himself put it, when Christ says He wants your life, He doesn't just want the Sunday bits of it. He wants all of you. You give Him and inch and He'll take an ell.


There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous by saying that they do not want to spend ‘eternity playing harps’. The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold etc) is,of course, a merely symbolic attempt to express the inexpressible, Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendor and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.


‘Niceness’ - wholesome integrated personality is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice’; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world – and might even be more difficult to save.

For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons; not simply produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.

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