# 1: Introducing Lewis and Chapter 1 of Mere Christianity.

Suffering softens hearts toward God,

World War II had begun with unimaginable losses of human life.

The scene was set for an apologist.

It certainly seems C. S. Lewis was chosen for such a time as this.

C. S. Lewis and the BBC

James Welch, a powerful man with the BBC, though he’d never heard Lewis speak,

wrote and asked Lewis to do a series on the radio that millions would hear.

Lewis’ reply is fascinating — as you will hear this week.

It shows us the secret of why Lewis so impacts hearts and lives.

On a sidenote — I was so pleased with all the book recommendations last week.

Also, I had a computer crash and am working handicapped, so forgive the small print,

and lack of colors!


 

Sunday

1. When you hear “C.S. Lewis’’ what comes to mind and why?

 

My first exposure to Lewis came during the month when I was trying to decide if the claims of Jesus were true or not. My sister left Mere Christianity behind and I read it with a hungry heart. Though it has been 50 years, I still remember some of his points — I think because instead of just content, he was helping me think how to think. Helping me doubt some of the things I had heard and examine their validity. One principle, based on Darwin’s evolutionary theory, is that of survival of the fittest. We do, Darwin said, what will best help us survive. I remember an illustration Lewis gave of a what happens to a person who sees a man who is calling for help because he is drowning.  There is something deep in the heart of man that makes him know he should try to save that man. And often, he does, going against the principle of survival of the fittest. I knew that to be true in my own heart, and it caused me to question, as Lewis wanted his reader to do, why I would risk my life to save a stranger. Who put that law in my heart?

 

Monday: Listening to Lewis

Like Tim Keller, C. S. Lewis became famous first, not through his writing, but through those radio broadcasts. It began with the first 4 chapters, then another chapter was added to answer listener’s questions. Then came Part 2, then Part 3, and Part 4 — all to become Mere Christianity. And then more recordings on other subjects followed. Because it was wartime all of Lewis’s recordings were recycled and lost except one. Here is the remaining broadcast. It is on prayer. Listen and share your observations and comments. (I loved hearing his actual voice.)

3. Observations and comments.

Tuesday: Read Chapter 1 of Mere Christianity

4. Highlight as you read and share two things that stood out to you and why.

Wednesday: Reflections on Chapter 1.

5. What does Lewis say quarreling people demonstrate?

6. What does Lewis mean by the law of human nature? While animals and vegetables are subject to the laws of nature, such as gravity, they are not subject to the law of human nature. Why, do you think?

 

7. Just as some people are colorblind, you will find a few who don’t seem to have this law of human natures. Today they are termed sociopaths, for they behave as if they don’t have a conscience. It is also possible to deaden this sense. How do you see this in the discussion Paul has in Romans 1?

 

8. Lewis contended that even the Nazis knew in their innermost heart that what they were doing was wrong, though out of fear they suppressed it. What do you know about the psychological state of Nazis after the war that corroborates this?

 

In Lilac Girls, which is historical fiction, the account of the female doctor becoming deadened to the experiments she was performing on the Jewish prisoners was illuminating. Pressure was put against her family and her, until she found a way to justify it, though she was destroyed emotionally. I see the same happening, for example, in those who choose abortion. Repentance or attempts at justification. The Romans 1 cycle. What do you see?

9. Lewis also made the point that though we know the law, no one keeps it. How does Scripture corroborate this?

10 Lewis concluded with two main points to help us understand the universe. What are they are why do they help us understand the universe?.

 

Thursday: Background information from the C. S. Lewis Institute

11. Watch and share your comments and observations.

 

Friday: Reflections on Yesterday’s Video

12. Why didn’t Lewis want to plunge directly into Christianity, but rather do some teaching on logic?

13 Discussion question: Research shows that Christian young people who become involved in, for example, sexual immorality, begin to disbelieve in God. Why, do you think?

 

14. Challenge: This week, ask God for an opportunity with friends or family that may not know the Lord to tell them a bit about this first chapter. Tell them about the interesting book you are reading and ask for their opinion on Lewis’s supposition about “the law of human nature.” Then come with feedback.

 

Saturday:

15. What is your take-a-way from this week’s material and discussion and why?

 

COMMENTS (122) Post a New Comment ↓
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Friday: Reflections on Yesterday’s Video
12. Why didn’t Lewis want to plunge directly into Christianity, but rather do some teaching on logic?

His goal was to first introduce the Law of human nature and the fundamental issue of right and wrong.  Lewis felt there was a need of preparation for the Gospel which can only be understood when people are brought to a place of  
needing to know they have sinned. 

13 Discussion question: Research shows that Christian young people who become involved in, for example, sexual immorality, begin to disbelieve in God. Why, do you think?

 
In order to justify their actions they have to set God and His Word aside because He brings morality and responsibility for sinful actions from Himself and His teaching. God is good and perfect. He is the standard for all character and behavior which is completely selfless and seeks the good of others. When an individual chooses to go against God’s perfect standard they are required to repent and many want to continue in their selfish sinful way. So they dismiss God and suppress his truth in order to justify their actions. Satan feeds lies about God into their minds. It is the garden of Eden scenario all over again. Man believing the lie that God is to be questioned and they want to be boss of their own lives. 
 

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Sorry for this “manage” comment, but how do I turn off the email notifications?  I’m getting too many.

Tim

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    Tim — sorry about that — it is because you checked the box. I’ll notify the webmaster — I wish this format didn’t have a box to check for they are annoying!

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8.  Even the Nazi’s couldn’t fool themselves all the time.

i am looking forward to reading Lilac Girls.

i see in those who say no to God a need to justify themselves with statements about how good (or at least not bad) they are, or how spiritual they are, or some other verbalization of how they are deceiving themselves.

 

9.  It isn’t only Paul who talks about how we don’t do the good we know we should. All of James 4 is a treatise on how we both think and act wrong.

 

10.  Lewis says that not only do humans know there is a right and wrong, but they cannot erase it from themselves. Yet even then, they don’t act in line with it. This helps us understand the universe in the same way the concept of original sin does. We are lost and we need a Savior.

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11. Watch and share your comments and observations.

 

Wow Dee!  Mental gyrations at 5:30 in the morning!  Although I don’t really typically like the style of reading to a group of people,  mainly because I’m not an auditory learner,  he made me think. At one point I had to leave the video go to YouTube to find a basic video of what moral relativism is, and then come back to understand what his point was.  I think I have come up with an example of this in my own family, so I’ll share…  our daughter Sarah has become someone we don’t really know anymore. The boys are very mad at her and don’t speak to her most of the time. My husband is also very angry with her actions so it’s really hard for her and him to communicate anymore. I however, have some sort of intrinsic love of her because she’s my child. I guess? And I can’t be so hard on her.

 

Yesterday she ran out of gas in one of our old uninspected cars. My husband came 30 miles home to give her gas. Probably because that’s the kind of guy he is. She then came to the house, where she is not presently living, to get food and take a shower before work.  When she supposedly went to take the shower, she took a jar of coins that my husband had been saving, and was stealing all the silver coins in the jar. He caught her red-handed. It wasn’t about the money for him, it was about the idea that she would do this.

 

Morality says we shouldn’t steal, my husband also thinks that you shouldn’t treat your family like this. There are other things even in that one situation that she did morally wrong.  My response to him? “Desperate people do desperate things.” So am I a moral relativist? Am I making excuses for Sarah? I know in my heart what she did was wrong but I seem to want to excuse her behavior because I’m her mother.

 

There are other points that he made, but I’ll probably have to go back and revisit this video again to get the entire picture straight in my head. I got stuck on that one point so I needed to get it on paper, if you will, to do that.

    Reply

    And you are making us do mental gyrations right back with the Sarah incident. Often mothers fall on the side of grace and fathers on the side of law — though it can be reversed. I see both — so hard, Laura, so hard.

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    Laura and Dee- I find this mental gyrations trying also lol as I am not an auditory learner as well. I find your comment about grace and law. Because with our daughter, I am more on the side of law and my husband, on grace. Hmmm…. Grace and law. Jesus, help!

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    So disheartening…:(

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Background video…Lewis’ point was that to get people to consider Christianity, they need to be awakened to their need for a Savior, to their guilt. Camu wrote of a true anti social and brought to life how frightening that is. Lewis says you can’t account for the law of human nature in the material world, so it must come from somewhere else.

 

12.  Lewis understood that a great many would reject his talks immediately if he started with Christianity. By starting with logic and common experience plus awakening guilt, they would be more likely to respond positively to Christ.

 

13.  Christians who get into unrepentant sin begin to disbelieve in God. Why? It becomes too painful. Wither we have to repent and get right with God, or we have to justify ourselves and pretend He isn’t really there with His standards.

 

14. I will be looking for an opportunity today to discuss the book and conscience.

    Reply

    Great post, Mary.

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What strikes me, hearing Lewis’s line of thinking, is how far we ( society) have fallen in less than 80 years. What better way to eliminate the need for a savior than by ridding society of clear right and wrong. When your gauge is ” what is right to ME” then you certainly don’t see yourself as a sinner. Evidence of this is everywhere. I love Lewis’s reasoning about fairness, about quarreling. This is so helpful for us as Christians, to start the conversation there.

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    Very true & well said Beth.   I was going to comment on Laura’s story above re her daughter & your post ties in with that.  It reminds me of how, so often, younger generations in today’s world just don’t see wrong as wrong.  Everything is justified as right.  This happened last summer with my daughter, when she went ballistic over something really minor–I scolded her son (my grandson) after a whole weekend of watching him manipulate, disobey, & disrespect pretty much everybody, every day.  She was so mad at me for calling him out that she didn’t talk to me for over 5 months.  She was livid that I spoke words of “guilt & shame” to him.  So how does a kid learn if we never correct or teach them?  and he absolutely knew what he was doing was very wrong.

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    So true, Beth.

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Well.  My head is spinning after listening to the two videos.  Not sure if it is the drama of this past week or the deep content of this study!  (side note: my husband had a horrible, scary allergic reaction to the drug Cipro & ended up in the ER, so if any of you have to take that drug in the future, make sure you read the info sheet)  I already feel like I am in a class I am doomed to fail!  I’ve taken a ton of notes, but not even sure what I’ve learned from it.

I guess I would say, from Lewis’ audio, what jumped out at me most was the whole God/time thing… that is just really hard to wrap your brain around, & like he said, it’s a real problem for people to try to understand how God can hear all our prayers @ the same time, etc.  “God is not in time” is very helpful.   We are finite, He is infinite.

The 2nd video was helpful in explaining some of Lewis’ content.  The summation was probably what helped me most:  that this whole idea of right & wrong, the law of human nature cannot be accounted for in the material world—it must lie someplace else.

Like Bev said, these questions are hard.  My brain is too weary after this trying week to answer them.  But I’ve gained a lot from reading comments, which is so appreciated.  I’m just hoping I can accomplish my goal, which is to get through, read the entire book Mere Christianity.   I’m starting to feel like I need a “Lewis for Dummies” to go along with it…   and it’s only the first chapter…

    Reply

    Wendy I am so sorry to hear of your husbands allergic reaction to that drug. It must have been scary; allergies are such strange things.

     

    I feel the same way as you do with the Lewis for Dummies book! I am pretty sure I will need to go back and listen to that scholar again. I also want to be able to finish the book. We need to encourage each other 😉.

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    Wendy, yeah. Me three. I need Lewis for dummies. Sometimes Keller and Karen swallow prior is like that to me as well.

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    Oh Wendy — my nephew has a terrible reaction to Cipro. So sorry — and prayers for him.

    Lewis is hard — that’s why we’re going slowly to digest. I’ll try to give as many helps as I can! So glad you are with us.

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15. What is your take-a-way from this week’s material and discussion and why?

Though I have not commented here, I have been doing the reading, listening to the videos and reading the discussion here. I think Lewis’ book will be helpful in preparing me to talk to those outside the Christian faith. For a very long time now, I have had this sense that it was useless to just plunge in and talk about God or even right and wrong with people who do not believe. I am not by nature a “debater”. In my fear of frightening them away, I have too often said nothing.

I need to digest what Lewis is saying. People often need a “pre-apologetic” (a preparation for the gospel) as Lewis suggests. As video 2 pointed out, “they have to get to a place where they see they have really violated something.”They have to recognize their sense of “guilt”. I pray that God will use this to help me in talking to others.

Can we take what Lewis is saying and apply it directly to today? Times have changed much since the 1940s. How to we “reach” people today?

    Reply

    Yes times have changed, but the idea of right and wrong hasn’t. I think we need a Savior more than ever now; even if it means we are just trying to focus people on eternal life (not just living here on earth). I think we are at that place just like in history, and people before us have been, where God decides to wipe earth clean because the people are so disgusting to Him. Maybe it’s the end of times? Things are SO turned upside down, this is why I am thinking this. Just look around; in my own example of Sarah….she doesn’t think taking from her father is stealing? We didn’t raise her like that. Her boyfriend is “getting” to her. He is a person who has totally lived off the system even though he is capable of working. The students I teach are disgusting to me with their constant need to be on their cell phones. Just walk down the street one day and look around you at all the people (myself included) who are looking down at a cell phone. It’s craziness! What kind of world do we live in anymore? Up is down and down is up. There are people in our country who think that we should get rid of statues and holidays because it might “offend” someone…oh my gosh, that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Whether they like it or not, our history is what it is; you can’t change it just because you don’t like it! Christianity seems to be shrinking too. That’s why I think we need this conversation (idea that Lewis presents) more than ever. Although we aren’t at war, we have a social crisis at hand (my opinion) that needs addressing.

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    I so agree, Dianne. Was thinking of you last night and how long and faithfully you have been with us.

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12. Why didn’t Lewis want to plunge directly into Christianity, but rather do some teaching on logic?
 

I’m thinking the scholar said Lewis didn’t want to run people off before he could get to the main topic? It was the “warm up” maybe?

 

 
13 Discussion question: Research shows that Christian young people who become involved in, for example, sexual immorality, begin to disbelieve in God. Why, do you think?
 

I’m guessing they know it’s wrong but want to partake anyway, so they justify their actions and disregard what they know God would want. They live for the here and now, not for the future. After a while God just sort of gets pushed to the back burner and forgotten.

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14. Challenge: This week, ask God for an opportunity with friends or family that may not know the Lord to tell them a bit about this first chapter. Tell them about the interesting book you are reading and ask for their opinion on Lewis’s supposition about “the law of human nature.” Then come with feedback.

 

I already discussed the moral relativist idea idea with my husband (a believer), and began this discussion with a friend yesterday (a non believer) but was cut short by something that happened (I got distracted). I will try to get back to it with her though. That’s what I will pray for.

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12. Why didn’t Lewis want to plunge directly into Christianity, but rather do some teaching on logic?
Had Lewis plunged directly into the topic being Christianity, many of those listening/reading would have tuned out right away.  By beginning with a logical sequence, he draws the listener/reader in, making them think.  He is able to build a case that makes sense to the listener/reader; the listener/reader draws upon their own intellect in support of the ideas Lewis is putting forth…it makes good sense.

13. Discussion question: Research shows that Christian young people who become involved in, for example, sexual immorality, begin to disbelieve in God. Why, do you think?
I think that it is easier to disbelieve in God than to admit that the immorality that might feel so good at the moment is in fact wrong (I think of idols, yes, it may feel good, comforting, etc., but in the end it will rip you to shreds) …if God is no longer a reality, then one is allowed to live as one wishes with no regard to truth, morality, etc.  Truth seems to be relative in “the world”…what was considered truth in days gone by, isn’t necessarily viewed that way any longer (e.g., definition of marriage, value of life). 

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9. Lewis also made the point that though we know the law, no one keeps it. How does Scripture corroborate this?

 

The theme of no one keeping it runs from Genesis through Revelation. Adam and Eve couldn’t keep one simple command. The churches in Revelation had their faults. Paul describes his personal struggle in Romans 7. Abraham, Moses, David, and so many more had their own moral failures. If my own life depended on it, I couldn’t go 24 hours without sinning in some way.

 

10. Lewis concluded with two main points to help us understand the universe. What are they and why do they help us understand the universe?

 

That all people intrinsically know the Law of Nature, and they break it. I think that when Lewis says “understand the universe we live in” he’s not talking about knowledge about space, planets, stars, etc…. He means understanding ourselves and the world we live in. However, even in observing nature, one can understand that while it is magnificent, it is also somehow not operating as it should.

 

11. Watch and share your comments and observations.

 

His discussion with the young man who was a moral relativist while they were living in India was interesting. The relativist still cannot escape the idea of right and wrong! Lewis was a very wise man in knowing that if he plunged right into Christianity, it just wouldn’t work. He said that in the New Testament, in preaching about repentance and forgiveness, it assumes that the people of that day understood the Law of Human Nature. Today, in the climate of moral relativism, these are foreign concepts. If a person does not see themselves as a sinner, you are wasting your time trying to preach the gospel to them.

 

12. Why didn’t Lewis want to plunge directly into Christianity, but rather do some teaching on logic?

 

Lewis understood the modern culture he was living in. He didn’t want to turn people off immediately. The lecturer said that Lewis “teaches you how to think things through” as you follow his thoughts. He wanted first to get people thinking, and, I think, to somehow build a relationship with his listeners by approaching it as having a conversation with them.

 

13. Discussion Question: Research shows that Christian young people who become involved in, for example, sexual immorality, begin to disbelieve in God. Why, do you think?

 

This is a tough topic….you say “Christian young people”, assuming that these are genuine believers. I understand that the Bible says that we can ignore the warnings of the Holy Spirit to such a point that our hearts become hardened and we can quench Him, but then there is the verse in one of John’s letters that says that no genuine believer can “continue in sin”; at some point, there has to be conviction of sin for the believer. If a person can sin and sin and not be bothered at all, that suggests that they do not have the Spirit living within them. In listening to a recent podcast, the speaker was saying that statistically, the singles in church don’t behave much different than the unchurched in terms of being sexually active. Some re-interpret Scripture as in, “Those rules were for those days but we live in the 21st century….” It could be a case of idolatry in that a person believes that a relationship can meet their deepest needs more than God can.

 

 

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