Is my religion right? (& other thoughts from “Mere Christianity”)

Lewis would be scolded today for intolerance: “...being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong....” (Ch 1)

Society says don’t think in terms of “I’m right; you’re wrong,” unless, of course, it’s about being right or wrong. Then it’s okay. Anything less is not tolerated. Huh?

This is also very un-PC in our age: “...as if “religion” were something God invented, and not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature.” (Ch 2)

Lewis points to Truth that exists outside of our thoughts. Truth just is. Whether we believe it or not, or acknowledge it or not, it is. He is.

In Ch 3, he made me consider how absurd it must have seemed when Jesus forgave people that weren’t necessarily apologizing to him. It would be like me telling my husband, “I forgive you for arguing with a co-worker today.” If I’m not the offended party, why should *I* forgive? It would be haughty.

But with Jesus, all hurts toward others ARE hurts toward him. “This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.” While this can’t be used as proof that he is deity, it shows he at least thought he was.

Why punish a criminal? To hurt the perpetrator because of the pain they caused another? Or, to exact retribution for the debt they created? In Ch 4, Lewis says Jesus’ substitutionary punishment for us is the latter reason. Who paid the ultimate price for our crimes? Jesus.

“What possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead? None at all that I can see, if you are thinking of punishment in the police-court sense. On the other hand, if you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not.”

[Others' thoughts from Book II of “Mere Christianity”]

3 comments:

Kay said...

Here's a little sample of chapter 4 that resonated with me:
"Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen. Very well, then, we must go through with it. But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it. Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it..."

I love that image of God. :-) And I really do need him to hold my hand and 'form the letters,' so to speak.

Repentance is such a difficult thing when you have a 'perfectionist' nature... feeling that if you don't do it perfectly, it won't be 'good enough' for God to 'accept.' Lewis' thoughts in this chapter helped me a little further down the road to seeing that God has always known that we could never 'repent' the way that we need to -- we're not 'good' enough to do it. Just one more place where Jesus comes and takes care of us... I love the paradox in this statement, "The only person who could [repent] perfectly would be a perfect person [Jesus] - and He would not need it." So the only man who didn't need to repent, had to come and show us how to, and subject himself to that 'willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death' that describes true repentance... that is amazing love.

Lisa said...

I love that image of God, too. The patient Father showing us how to live through Jesus, not just telling us to do it.

The whole paradox thing also reminds me of your quote from "He Loves Me" about realizing we can't conjure up perfect faith on our own either:

"I came to see that it was in my brokenness and powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus was made strong. It was in the acceptance of my lack of faith that God could give me faith."

There's so much power in coming to grips with our lack of power. We obviously need His help every day. The sooner we acknowledge it, the better off we are. It's a beautiful thing! :-)

danielle said...

C.S. lewis sounds like Socrates. I just read "Gorgias" for class and had to write a tutorial on it. It's all about Truth. That there is an ultimate Truth whether we acknowledge it or not.I really need to read Mere Christianity. Finding the time...ha so hard. maybe spring break.

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