Archives For C.S. Lewis

in-everything-give-thanks-fall-printable-744x1024Thanksgiving can be a fun and stomach-filling holiday but having a Thankful Heart is a central Christian virtue to be continuously “fed.”

Here are some great quotes to ruminate on – so to speak!

“The worst moment for an atheist is when he has a profound sense of gratitude and has no one to thank.” ~Dante Gabriel Rosetti

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune (circumstances): if it is “good,” because it is good, if “bad” because it works in us patience, humility, and… the hope of our eternal country.”  ~C.S. Lewis

“To believe in Jesus Christ means to become thankful!” ~K. Barth

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~G.K. Chesterton

“The mark of mature spirituality Is Gratitude. The root of ‘thankful’ is ‘thought’” ~Kathleen Norris

“Joy is a heart full and a mind purified by gratitude.” ~Marietta McCarty

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”  ~William Arthur Ward

“Being a Christian doesn’t in any way lesson suffering; but rather enables us to face it, take it, work through it, and eventually to convert it.” ~Terry Waite (Anglican envoy who was held hostage for 4 years in Lebanon)

“The Holy Spirit is in the business of transforming circumstances into character.”

“Glory to God for all things.” ~John Chrysostom, last words

The recent sermon on the “Giving Thanks” disciplne is available here. 

“Giving thanks honors God, builds character and overflows in generosity.”

Advertisements

screwtapes-desktopMy son, Stephen, recently told me of a friend who is doing his doctorate on “The Happiness of God!” I thought of this as I was reading Psalm 16. It ends with a beautiful expression of the locus of true pleasure and happiness.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11, ESV)

With this Psalm obviously in mind, C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, has the senior devil writing to his understudy, bemoaning the “unfair advantage” that God (his ‘Enemy’) has over the devils as they do their dark, inverted work:

He (God) is a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a façade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are ‘pleasures for evermore’. Ugh! I don’t think He has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the ‘Miserific’ Vision. He’s vulgar, Wormwood… He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working, Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.

There’s no real pleasure on ‘the dark side!’

Q – Are you believing any devilish lies about pleasure?

cslI want to draw your attention to a recent conference with outstanding presentations around the life and work of C.S. Lewis. Speakers included several great Lewis scholars, pastors and theologians covering a variety of important topics.

The conference was titled The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Immagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis. 

Connect here to listen to any of the presentations.


TOPICS:

_ Myth Wars: C.S. Lewis vs. Scientism, N.D. Wilson

_ The Friendship of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, Colin Duriez

_ C.S. Lewis and the Care of Souls, Lyle Dorsett

_ Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles, Joe Rigney

_ C.S. Lewis, Romantic Rationalist: How His Paths to Christ Shaped His Life and Ministry, John Piper

_ C.S. Lewis on Holy Scripture, Phillip Ryken

_ Undragoned: C.S. Lewis on the Gift of Salvation, Douglas Wilson

_ In Bright Shadow: C.S. Lewis on the Imagination for Theology and Discipleship, Kevin Vanhoozer

_ C.S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth: God’s Eternal REmedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering, Randy Alcorn

_ What God Made is Good – and Must be Sanctified: C. S. Lewis and St. Paul on the Use of Creation, John Piper,

Do you know your enemy?

June 26, 2013 — 1 Comment

We are in a spiritual battle. One of the tactics of the Enemy is to lull us into a sleep that denies we are even spiritual creatures in a universe saturated with God’s powerful presence – forgetting that we are in a spiritual war requiring spiritual weapons.  Listen to our recent sermon at Christ Church on The Spiritual Battle.

We need to have our thinking right about Diabolos, the Devil, who is the Deceiver and Destroyer – and also our Defeated Enemy!

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which
our race can fall about the devils.
One is to disbelieve in their existence.
The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.
They themselves are equally pleased by both errors
and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

(Screwtape Letters)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, 
seeking someone to devour. Resist him,firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering 
are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, 
the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 5:8-11, ESV)

We need to:
Know our Enemy;
Know our Human weaknesses and vulnerabilities;
and we need to Know our God better to resist the Devil effectively with a firm faith!

Q – Where do you need to be more alert to the tactics of the enemy in your life?

narniaI try to always read some poetry on my day off – my Sabbath Monday. This poem by Anne Porter struck me in a unique way. It reminds me of my part in the brokenness inflicted by sin. My “blind complicity” as she says in the third stanza. How I dismiss people in their wounded state, “as if I were not one of them.”

The last lines remind me of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Aslan’s resurrection ushers in the spring of the New Creation!

Whatever harm I may have done
In all my life in all your wide creation
If I cannot repair it
I beg you to repair it,

And then there are all the wounded 
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed
As if I were not one of them.
Where I have wronged them by it
And cannot make amends
I ask you
To comfort them to overflowing,

And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near
That I’ve destroyed in blind complicity,
And if I cannot find them
Or have no way to serve them,

Remember them. I beg you to remember them

When winter is over
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death’s bare branches.

“A Short Testament” by Anne Porter, from Living Things.
reprinted in The Writer’s Almanac

fourbattlesIn a sermon on 1 Peter 5:1-6, The Battle With Pride, we had readers do an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ famous Screwtape Letters. I’ve listed some great Lewis quotes on Pride and Humility below.  But if you’d like to read the whole Letter (#14) from Screwtape, just click here.

I’ll end with some background on the writing of Screwtape during WW II that you will find fascinating!

Lewis Quotes on Humility and Pride:

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. […] There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.[…]The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility.  (Mere Christianity)

If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. [The way to take this first step, continued Lewis, is to glimpse the greatness of God and see oneself in light of it.] He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of [the pretensions which have] made you restless and unhappy all your life. (Mere Christianity)

True Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. 

After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of ourselves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. (Yours Jack, letter)

I suppose (it seems hard saying) we should mind humiliation less if we were humbler. It is at any rate form of suffering which we can try to offer, Colossians 1:24.

Try not to think, much less speak, of their sins. One’s own are a much more profitable theme! And if on  consideration, one can find no fault on one’s own side, then cry for mercy: for this must be a most dangerous delusion. (Yours Jack, letter)

The ‘Hitler connection’ in the writing of The Screwtape Letters:

The letters were originally published in (Engl newspaper) The Guardian in 31 weekly installments – from May through November, 1941. Lewis conceived of The Screwtape Letters in the summer of 1940. On the evening of July 20th, he heard a broadcast speech by Hitler and later wrote to his brother, Warnie: “I don’t know if I am weaker than other people, but it is a positive revelation to me that while the speech lasts it is impossible not to waver just a little.”

Lewis went on to explain that (after going to worship) he was “struck by an idea for a book which I think would be both useful and entertaining. It would be called As One Devil to Another and would consist of letters from an elderly retired devil to a young devil who has just started work on his first ‘patient.’ The idea would be to give…the psychology of temptation from the other point of view.” …God becomes “The Enemy” and “Our Father’s House” is not heaven but hell…

The Screwtape Letters was greeted with great critical and popular enthusiasm when it first appeared. The book was reprinted eight times in 1942 alone. Contemporary reviewers wrote that “Lewis is in earnest with his belief in devils, and as anxious to unmask their strategy against souls as our intelligence department (is) to detect the designs of Hitler.”  (The Guardian, 13 March 1942)

NOTE: Lewis was paid £2 per letter—but he would not accept the money. Instead, he sent the editor of The Guardian a list of widows and orphans to whom the £62 was to be paid. He did the same with the fees the BBC paid for the ‘Mere Christianity’ broadcasts, and those The Guardian paid for the weekly installments of The Great Divorce in 1944–5.

SOURCE: Lewis, C. S. (2011-08-15). Screwtape Letters (Enhanced Special Illustrated Edition), Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

A follow-up to the teaching, Will All Be Saved in the End? in our Tough Questions Series

I had the privilege at North Park University of speaking with Kallistos Ware, elderly Orthodox bishop and scholar from England. I had read his essay called, Dare We Hope for the Salvation of All? (I found it on the web here.) I asked him about his views. He said that the freedom of the human will as part of being in God’s image, was for him (as for C. S. Lewis) a decisive point. There must remain, despite God’s love and the victory and future restoration of all things in Christ, the possibility of choosing to refuse God’s gift. His article is worth reading to understand how Christians through the centuries have addressed these issues.

Here are some C.S. Lewis’ quotes on this subject that are insightful and provocative.

To enter hell is to be banished from humanity.  What is cast (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is “remains.”To be a complete man, means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will offered to God…hell was not made for men…It is in no sense parallel to heaven. (from The Problem of Pain)

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: Those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, chose it.  Without that self- choice there could be no Hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek, find…” The Great Divorce

In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do?” To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them?  They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.

ONE MORE resource for deeper study that I’ve appreciated is an important alternative to some western views of heaven and hell that often come more from Dante’s Inferno and Greek mythology than from biblical teaching. It is linked here: Heaven and Hell in the Afterlife According to the Bible, by Peter Chopelas, an Eastern Orthodox writer.  Though the writer sees this understanding as being counter to both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, I would say that many evangelicals, including myself, increasingly accept the basic premise of this line of study. Certainly Lewis was on this train.

What Questions are raised for you by this discussion?