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C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity

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C.S. Lewis' Book, "Mere Christianity"

C.S. Lewis begins his book, "Mere Christianity", by introducing the Law of Right and Wrong or the Laws of Nature. This, however, arises a question. What is the Law of Nature? The Law of Nature is the known difference between right and wrong. That is, mans distinction between what is right and what is wrong. "This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that everyone knew it and did not need to be taught it"(18). Lewis relates the law to how we treat others. We treat others the way we want to be treated and if they treat us poorly in return we become agitated and annoyed with them. He states that we become a society of excuses when something goes wrong.

He goes on to say that we want to behave in a certain way when in reality we do the opposite of what is right or what is wrong. We are humans and humans have primal instincts. We are all capable of using our instincts to do right or wrong. Lewis uses an example of a drowning man to prove this point. When one sees a man in trouble two desires or instincts kick into play, to save the man or ignore him because the situation at hand could endanger you. However, there in another impulse that says help the man. Lewis believes that when a man makes a moral decision there are two things involved. They are choosing and various feelings or acts that show his psychological abilities. This then would lead to a normal feeling or a feeling that turns to fear and strikes the man down. This links in to social morality and the man's perception to do right or wrong. This may also lead into sexual morality or chastity. Christian chastity is different then social modesty because social modesty tells what on the body can be displayed. In regards to sex there is nothing to be ashamed of unless it is taken in excess and is done out of self-pleasure not in love. Christianity agrees with this statement because Christianity approves of the body. This is where marriage comes to play a role in mans behavior. The sexual impulse in man works best under marriage. Man and wife unite on the alter to form "one flesh." According to Lewis, living together outside of marriage causes one to unchaste and commits perjury against the law. The passion of love compels two people to unite and create life of their own. Lewis also believes that the man is the head and should deal with his families' policy because he is strong and wise. Forgiveness in Lewis' eye is the love of a mans enemy. One of mans most terrible duties is the forgiveness of his enemy. Two things we can do to make loving our enemies easier are to forgive and to learn how to love our self. Loving yourself does not mean that you have to punish yourself; it means you have to have courage in the face evil. The love of our self can lead to us committing the great sin. Lewis describes the great sin as one in which no man in the world is free, which every one in the world loathe when he sees it in another, and which no Christian will admit to; Pride. The virtue opposite to Pride is Humility. Lewis suggests that in order to find how proud you are you ask yourself this question. "How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice to me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off"(110)? There are four misunderstandings Lewis discusses about pride. They are: pleasure in being praised, being "proud of," pride in wrong doings, and being humble. To gain humility one must realize that they are proud. Lewis goes on to talk about the "Theological" virtues of FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY. He describes charity as giving "alms" or giving to the poor. Lewis believes that that when you love someone and you injure it you will not love it no more, but if you show love your love will grow stronger. Lewis gives advice to those for a person with no love for God. He tells them to try and love Him as if you really did love Him. Act in love and you will be loved. Our feeling come and go, but God's are eternal and forever. Lewis mentions some accomplishments of men who left their mark of earth because of their hope occupied in Heaven. Most people look at heaven as a place to meet old friends. It however, is a place to be with God and a place to live in peace with us. Although we experience great things in life something still evades us. Lewis believes there are two wrong ways to deal with this. They are: the fool's way; putting the blame on things themselves, and the way of the disillusioned "sensible man". The right way is the Christian way. We do not have desires unless a need arises to fulfill that desire. This leads into faith. Faith is the art of holding onto things reason has once accepted. No man knows how hard he tries to be good. Lewis believes this is a silly idea because good people know what temptation is. It is only when we resist temptation that we know how strong it really is. Man strong in faith is not always in perfect coexistence with God. As we grow in faith we begin to obey Christ more passionately. This is related to the obedience of the truths that Christians obtain. Lewis begins Book IV with a discussion about life and how it relates to God. Theology is the science of God. Lewis uses an analogy of a map to describe theology. In order to have a map man must have experience of the area. Theology is the same due to the fact that the experience is God. Lewis then goes on to describe the difference between begetting and creation. To create is to make and to beget is to father. This theory then leads into "Bios" and "Zoe." "Bios" is life without spirit; life in nature. "Zoe" is spiritual life. Together they form one complete life; a life in God. Lewis then moves to a discussion of the divine personality, the three personal God. Most people believe in a personal God, a mysterious something behind a mysterious force. Lewis describes God's personality as being on a divine level. Theology is practical and the one instrument for learning about God is the whole Christian community. This leads us to believe that God is in three parts: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. "God is love." In Lewis' view this statement is not true unless there are a Father and a Son because love is for another person. "Love is God" on the other hand describes God's creation of us and all that we do. The Trinity is in fact God both as Supreme Being, son made flesh, and as a spirit. This in Lewis's view is what all of Christianity is about. Lewis goes on to use a toy soldier analogy to describe how Christians are transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Our natural life is life self-centered in us. Lewis views the analogy of the tin soldier very solemnly yet very seriously on the other



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