The Shocking Jesus (Finishing Book II of Mere Christianity)

I was twenty-one, a wife, and a new mother.

My newly converted sister came to Indianapolis,

followed me around with a Bible,

and asked me question after question about Jesus:

Who do you think He is?

Why do you think He came?

Did you know He wants your whole life?

It was the longest weekend of my life.

I was so eager for her to leave and go back to Iowa.

But when I awoke on Sunday, and drew back the curtain,

I saw that we’d been hit with a freak October blizzard.

I couldn’t even see her car under the snow.

I was snowbound with a fanatic:

my trouble as deep as the drifts outside our window.

But Sally saw it as God’s opportunity and continued on for three more days.

It was God’s timing.

And when Sally finally left, she also left behind Mere Christianity,

which I devoured.

Before Sally and Lewis, I would have considered myself a Christian,

for I respected the teachings of Jesus

and thought I sort of followed them.

Hah!

First, I didn’t really know much of what He said.

Second, I certainly wasn’t following Him.

Third, I had put him into the “safe” category of “teacher”

where I could ignore Him.

Lewis blew me out of the water

with what is perhaps his most famous quote,

a quote that has jolted countless hearts

from apathy to contemplation to surrender.

 

His reasoning?

This argument is so strong, and one we must be prepared to share,

that I’d like you to listen to this short (less than 4 minutes) video with the

heart of Lewis’s argument.

Because this clip shows images from The Passion,

I know I am introducing a tangental controversy,

 but I also know that this is a great place to have

sharpening discussions about controversial subjects, and we will.

Please watch this clip:

Sunday: Getting Started

1. What stood out to you from the above, including the clip, and why?

A Sunday Tangental Discussion: Should Christians use images of Jesus?

Some of my Reformed brothers and sisters are against any representation of Jesus. The late J. I. Packer, whom I so respect, gave some good reasons for not using images — and if you are interested, here is a one page article on that: http://ebcelkhorn.com/no-images-for-

I agree with Packer that we definitely shouldn’t use images for the purpose of worship. I also agree many, if not most, of the images make serious errors, such as making Jesus a blue-eyed Anglo-saxon, or insipid, or effeminate — and no one can truly represent Him.  But I do think there is a place for pictures — so helpful with children, and even at times with adults. I feel many have gone too far in not allowing any images ever — reminding me a bit of the time during the Reformation when they took Luther’s teachings to an extreme and destroyed so many of the beautiful churches with stained glassed windows, cathedral ceilings, paintings of anything biblical, and crosses in Europe.

I think there is a place for images of Jesus in art and in movies. There is no doubt, for example, that the movie The Passion brought many to Christ, even though there were things that were off, and even though Mel Gibson struggles so with living the Christian life. (He produced the movie.)

2. How do you feel about using images of Christ and why?

Monday: The Shocking Alternative

3. Read Chapter 3 of Book II. and share what stands out to you and why. Or comment on the below doodle version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxzuh5Xx5G4

Tuesday: Reflecting on Chapter 3.

4. How does Lewis explain the problem of evil?

 

(One way that Lewis is different from most who embrace Reformed Theology is his heavy emphasis on free will. Both free will and election are in the Scripture, and it is one of those “apparent controversies” which we will understand one day.)

5. Why were people shocked when Jesus said He forgave sins — including sins that had been against someone else?

6. Have you heard the argument of liar, lunatic, or Lord before? If so, how did it impact you?

 

 

 

In Lewis’s “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” both Lucy and Edmond have seen the magic world of Narnia — but Edmond denies it and says Lucy is lying. So the children run to the professor to arbitrate the quarrel. He asks them if Lucy is a liar — and they know she is a truthful girl. So then he asks them if she is crazy — and they laugh — no, she’s not crazy. The professor says: “Don’t they teach these children logic?” He tells them the only other alternative besides liar or lunatic is that she is telling the truth.  

Action Assignment: Ask God to give you an opportunity in the next three days to ask a question of a friend that might lead to helpful dialogue about who Jesus is, or ask Him to give you a chance to share something you are learning in hopes of leading to dialogue. Be alert and seize the moment! I’ll ask you to share on Friday if anything happened.

 

Wednesday: Reading and Reflecting on Chapter 4.

7. Read The Perfect Penitent and share what stood out to you and why.

 

Here is the audio version from the C. S. Lewis institute for this week for those who like to listen — because these were originally radio broadcasts, audio is quite effective. Please feel free to share any new insights as a result of listening.

 

 

 

8. Lewis says we are living in “enemy-occupied” territory. How aware are you of this and how does it impact you?

 

 

9. Lewis addresses the reason Christ died — how does he explain it?

 

10. Some say it was easy for Christ to go through the crucifixion, for He was God. What does Lewis say?

 

Thursday: Read Chapter 5: The Practical Conclusion

This chapter is interesting to me in that it helps me see why Lewis was influential with Catholics, and why he calls this “Mere” Christianity — he is trying to see what all true believers have in common.

11. Read The Practical Conclusion and share what stood out to you and why.

 

12. What three ways does Lewis say Christ’s life spreads to us? What thoughts do you have on this?

 

13. Why is the Christian in a different position than others who are trying to be good?

 

14. Why is Jesus slow in returning?

 

Friday: Action Assignment

15. Were you able to have a dialogue with anyone as a result of your prayer?

 

Optional: Read this one page article on the reception to Mere Christianity — I found it fascinating. If you read it, share one thing that stood out to you. http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/A_Biography_of_Mere_Christianity_page2

Saturday: 

16. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

COMMENTS (78) Post a New Comment ↓
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1. What stood out?

 

I have trouble with the images in the clip; the brutality of it all.

I like Lewis’ concept of liar, lunatic, or Lord.

I loved that your sister  bugged you and the snow storm hit! I wish I was as brave as she was.

How could you read and understand Mere Christianity on your own??!!

After I watched the clip I went to my bible app to read the verse of the day. Here it is:

 

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/1jn.2.1-2.esv

 

I am at a point of lowness in my life journey. I know it will end at some point, but in the here and now I am down. God is far away. I push on with this study, although one of the hardest/meaningful books I have ever read. I try to replace reality with other things and never am satisfied, just as we have spoken about over the years. I feel hopeless and yet prod on through the mess. I know we have to die to Him each day. I am tired. I haven’t been to church in a few weeks because of a variety of reasons and I am not comforted being here today (I am working the nursery where we have no children – I didn’t bring our grandkids today)…I’m not sure our church is succeeding in its journey. That makes me sad; I don’t want to give up on it. It seems that young people want the “concert” type of church and I have always been more of a traditionalist. Our church is contemporary (music)but also traditional (doctrine and liturgy).

I am rambling…sorry. I will continue to read and answer questions in hope that God and I will cross paths this summer. Thanks for listening!

    Reply

    Sweet Laura…you should never be sorry for sharing your heart…we love you.  You are in the trenches, fighting, persevering…God bless you, dear sister…God bless, you and George…may the Lord flood you with His presence, His comfort, His peace.

      Reply

      thank you Nanci.

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    Laura, not sure if you will read this but, my heart aches for you. You are in my prayers. This quote was helpful to me last week, “Don’t forget in the dark, what you knew in the light”. This is your spiritual winter, my friend. God has important lessons to teach you through this season that you could not learn any other way. I have begun to read a book that is helpful to me about hanging on through the seasons of the spirit. It is called “Spiritual Rhythms” by Mark Buchanan, if you are interested.

      Reply

      Thank you for the encouragement Diane. I will see if I can check the book out at the library.

    Reply

    Laura, I always love your honesty and am inspired by your perseverance. Even though you feel like you’re getting nothing out of it, you keep pressing on. It isn’t for nothing. You’ll look back and be glad that you did.

      Reply

      I am so thankful for this blog and you, sisters. You don’t know how much you mean to me. Thank you Dawn.

    Reply

    Dear dear Laura.  You are surrounded by love here, & although I have not been here long, I find you an easy person to love… you are so authentic, open, real.  You say what a lot of us are probably thinking but don’t often have the courage to speak it.  You speak the truth.  You are walking through the valley right now, but there will be a day very soon when you will once again feel God’s presence, power & peace.  I’d bet that all of us here can say we’ve experienced what you are are feeling right now, and some of us more times than we’d like to admit.  Hang in there.  God is with you.  Even though you do not feel his presence, he is there.  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

    Yes, this is a hard book to study, no doubt about it.  We all agree on that.  Maybe if life is just a little too overwhelming for you right now, cut yourself some slack, read the book but take a little break from all the hard questions & read other’s answers for a week or two or however long you need?  Last week was so full I did not get to the study, & here it is Tuesday already of this week & I have yet to crack my book open.  I need to get with it & catch up before I get so far behind I’ll be too discouraged.  Dawn is right–we need to stick with this, in the end we’ll be so glad we did.   love to you.

     

     

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2. How do you feel about using images of Christ and why?

 

Wow! I have never heard anything about this type of discussion nor have I ever thought about it either!! That’s why I love you Dee! You introduce me to new ideas and teach me so much! I’m going to read the article, but my gut instinct says HOGWASH!! I LOVE pictures of Jesus. I need to relate with Him other than the written word. It’s why I dance scripture (it’s my favorite type of dancing because some of us are more visual/kinesthetic than literary. I think we need ALL senses to experience Christ. For example, when I go to a Catholic funeral mass (we are not Catholic) I am so touched by the beauty of the song, the smell of the incense, the vision of the priest going through the series of readings and the “pomp and circumstance” of it all. It fills all my senses and really makes me aware of the moment. An anglo Saxon, blue eyed Jesus is who I relate to (sorry), and a dark skinned, brown eyed Jesus is who others relate to. I’m not offended and I think we would probably make Him what we need in our “minds eye” anyway. Okay, I hope I didn’t offend anyone, but go on now…tell me how wrong I am in my thinking please! Debate is officially on! Renee??!! Where are you  ?

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Oh Laura, how I love you. Your honesty, your fortitude, and your calling out to Renee! :-)

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    Okay, I read the article and I see how I might need to rethink a bit….I know we shouldn’t create idols, but when I see a picture of Jesus (I don’t technically have one in my home), I don’t look at it with an idol viewpoint. It’s just a picture of Jesus. Sometimes it just reminds me to say a prayer at that time. So should people not wear crucifixon necklaces? Also, maybe some people around the world can’t read, or don’t have a translation of the Bible in their language. If this is the case then they might not ever learn about Jesus. They would have to rely on people telling them the stories. You know they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  A picture of Jesus to one of these people might spark curiosity and then they might try to know who He is. By the way, I have never seen God portrayed as a grandfatherly figure! That was funny to me! I see the authors point about our vision of God as being limiting too.

      Reply

      I have a picture of Jesus in my home, it is a picture of Jesus as the potter, creating at His potter’s wheel…I love the depiction, it is a blessed reminder that He is the creator and I the created, nothing more, nothing less.  I don’t view this as idolatry, just something that brings a thoughtful reminder of Who is really in control.

      I am sad that Martin French isn’t satisfied with his pictures that Dee/you used to have on the blog from time-to-time.  I absolutely love the one where Jesus has his cloak over the woman who committed adultery…in my opinion (albeit certainly not an artist), it speaks volumes.  I cannot tell you how many times I have thought of Jesus covering me with His cloak in terms of grace. I looked back for it, but it is gone. If I ever see something similar, I will purchase it.

        I feel the same about Martin French, Nanci. I love the painting of Jesus on the white steed. My kinsman redeemer! I would also buy one from him if he ever changed his mind.

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1. What stood out to you from the above, including the clip, and why?
When I read where Dee says “Before Sally and Lewis, I would have considered myself a Christian” I shuttered.  I know first hand what Dee/you meant, if anyone would have asked me from little on through to my early-mid 30’s if I was a Christian, I would have emphatically responded “yes,” and likely been offended for them even asking…yet, now I know that the “Christian” life I was leading was fairly legalistic, quid pro quo.  Thanks be to God, my eyes and heart were opened to the truth…yes, I believed in Jesus, but I didn’t really “get it” although I thought I did, now I realize the I will never fully get it this side of heaven with my finite mind, but that doesn’t stop me from my continuing pursuit.  You might ask why I “shutter”…I fear for those close to me that still have the idea that by attending mass dutifully, speaking prayers mindlessly, routinely receiving communion, they are fulfilling their part in the arrangement, fulfilling their obligation, and therefore will be saved.  My heart aches…they only want just a little of Jesus, just enough to believe they are saved, but no more, they believe that there is a time and place for religion and it should be contained in the time/place…are they truly saved???  Yes, I shutter…

    Reply

    I get what you mean here Nanci, about shuddering. I too have always gone to church and gone through the motions. I haven’t always known Jesus. I love the cross you mention that your husband made you!! I want one 😊. He should make them and sell them! I only really am still trying my best to understand Him. I was thrown into a tail spin by our second son and didn’t know where else to turn but to Him. Twelve years or so later I am still learning and I feel as if I still have so much to learn. I won’t give up though. It is too important. All we can do is pray for those we know who don’t know Him as He really is.

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2. How do you feel about using images of Christ and why?

I was raised Catholic, we always had the cross with the crucified Jesus displayed…one in each bedroom; we were all gifted with one for our first communion.  Incidentally we also had a plaster cast of Mary and baby Jesus hanging; it was a gift from my Godparents for my baptism.  I left the Catholic church in my mid-30’s; the cross that now hangs in my home is a plain wooden cross with a heart cut out in the middle reminding me of the incomprehensible love of Jesus…and the love of my husband who made it for me with his own two hands…:D  I don’t have anything against folks having representations of Jesus; I don’t believe that those depictions are what are being prayed to or worshiped; in terms of idolatry, I don’t think them akin to the golden calf.  I’m not opposed to the stations of the cross, stained glass windows, films with accurate portrayals, etc.  I do think it funny (ironic) that Jesus is most often displayed as a caucasian, attractive man, when in all  likelihood he was middle eastern, having an olive colored complexion, and most likely not attractive (Isaiah 53:2b, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”)  The Passion of the Christ impacted me greatly.  In being a “Christian” from birth, I was desensitized to the pain, suffering, torment, etc. that Jesus endured…this film removed that desensitization for me.  It put before my eyes a Roman flogging, the continuous stalking by the evil one, etc.  It was not a “fun” movie to watch, but one that needed to be watched.

    Reply

    So interesting Nanci — and that the Passion impacted you so. Love these posts.

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1.  Wow. Already in reading the above posts and hearing more of people’s stories, I am blown away. How wonderful for God to give us fellowship not only with Him, but with each other!

What stood out in the reading was how brave Sally was to keep at you/Dee when you were obviously not showing interest. I wish I could be that brave, and that loving.

 

2.  Images of Christ. I know the Orthodox churches used icons or pictures as a help for people who couldn’t read. The idea was to help them focus in worship, not to be worshipped. From what you posted, Dee, and the link, I can see the other side. One year, to help the cross be more real to people at church, all during Lent there were little snippets of Jesus interacting with his disciples. The elders filled these roles. The one who ‘played’ Jesus memorized huge chunks of Scripture, and in fact those were his only lines. But children long after would tug on their parents and say, “there’s Jesus!’ Now I wonder if it did any damage to how they perceive Christ. As an adult, I’d have to say it was helpful to me, and I never have equated Jesus with that man.

    Reply

    Interesting pondering, Mary. And my sister would say, “I did everything wrong in being so pushy, but God gave me grace.” I know what she did right was to love me well and to clearly lift up the claims of Christ and use questions.

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Sunday

1.  What stood out to you from the above, including the clip, and why?

I really admired your sisters tenacity in sharing Christ.  Being raised in a Christian home and remembering my Dad leading me to the the Lord when I was 6…I feel I’ve been a Christian all my life!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for that, but I thought of what you said that your “sister was a new convert” and I couldn’t help but think the excitement she was feeling in wanting to share with you what she’d found and how I’ve never really had that feeling.  My sister was raised in the same home I was and it just boggles my mind that she is now a Buddhist and wants nothing to do with Christianity.  She and I have had discussions and her main response is “Jesus was just a prophet!”    I’m not really sure how she would respond to the above quote from Lewis as her heart has become so hardened.

2.  How do you feel about using images of Christ and why?

Quite honestly I’ve never thought about it and therefore really don’t have a problem with it.  Growing up we had a picture of Christ knocking on a door and with it went the verse from Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.”  I used to feel such comfort from seeing that picture but never worshiped it.

 

 

    Reply

    Prayers for your sister, Sharon!

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Dee, I noticed that there is no button to receive notifications of other’s comments by email this week. Did I miss something? Have you deliberately deleted this from the blog?

    Reply

    Diane — we did delete it for it seemed to be causing so many problems for those who hadn’t meant to check it and e-mail boxes were full, and I always had to pay to get that fixed for the person. Are you one who has liked it?

      Reply

      Yes, I did like to receive emails. It was a way to keep in touch with what others were responding without having to go onto the site and scroll through all the emails I had already seen. I probably will be less likely to read other’s responses now. However,on my laptop, I didn’t get individual emails but a notice as to how many from your site during a certain period of time (it is hard to explain) and I could open them at my leisure. It’s OK, though.  Sorry, you had to pay to get it fixed. I can understand that cost and time for you is definitely a reason to delete it. I am just curious as to how many others actually liked getting the emails.

        I will ask that question in next week’s post, Diane. A question I should have asked before I told them to delete the button!

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1. What stood out to you from the above, including the clip, and why?

I truly believe that the argument about Jesus being either a liar, lunatic or Lord is most compelling. It leaves no room for anything else. I have so often heard people say that he was a good moral teacher. I guess it isn’t a new idea.

2. How do you feel about using images of Christ and why?

As sad as it is there is still a prevalent view of him as being a blue eyed Anglo Saxon because of the early paintings. I never thought of the fact that he looked like a Jewish (Middle Eastern) person until The Passion and from the bible I gather that he wasn’t what would be considered handsome either. I personally don’t care what people visualize as Jesus because there is no painting or picture of him so no one is “right”.  I don’t know in what context his image would be necessary anyway, but I don’t think that there is anything inherently wrong with it either.

 

 

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3.  From chapter three. When people are given a choice to volunteer, half will not do it. You didn’t will that they should sit back, but your will made it possible. If we are free to love greatly we must also be free to be evil. God designed humans to run on the fuel of Himself. Therefore we cannot ask for His gifts apart from Himself. There is no such thing. People don’t think of Jesus as silly or conceited, yet to say He forgives sin is exactly that, unless He really is God.

All these thoughts were new to me, but they are so true!

 

4.  Lewis explains the problem of evil as the other side of being free to love greatly. You can’t have the freedom to love, do good and follow God unless you also have the freedom to hate, do evil and follow self.

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Interesting discussion on images of Jesus. I have used them in my speaking, but am doing less so — there are some I really like — such as the ones I used to use by Martin French — but he (Martin French) became uncomfortable with them, feeling he couldn’t represent the holiness as he wanted to — and asked me to stop using them. So, though they are in some of my videos, I don’t use them anymore. I respected how he, as the artist, might feel.

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HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZZY –

You have been such a blessing here — have been here almost from the beginning. I know your life has gotten wild this year, but we are praying for you and love you!

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    Oh, Lizzy. So happy to hear that it is your birthday! Have a truly blessed one! How are you and your family doing? I still have the picture you sent me of your family a few years ago on the mirror of my bedroom and pray for you when I see it. I wish I had a new one of your family that included Philip. Love you bunches and bunches!

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    Thank you SO much! Just returned from a week in the mountains away from internet, but read 2 1/2 books! :) Glad to be back & ready to jump in this week!

      Reply

      Happy birthday Lizzy!

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    Happy belated birthday, Lizzy! 🎂

    Someone shares the day with you, Jill, correct?

    Happy belated, Jill! 🎂

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Chapter 3 of Book II is really good. I love the doodles version. :) “Jesus is the gas we are intended to run on”.

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Monday

3.  Read Chapter 3 of  Book II. and share what stands out to you and why.

“Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God.”  

When I read this, it really stood out to me how silly it is to even “want to be God…putting ourselves first.”  It just makes sense to me,not always easy, that the only way to be happy and have peace is allowing God, Who created us, to be our Master!

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5.  Jesus said He forgave sin. Most of the time He was not talking about sin committed against Him. I’d never thought of how that would sound to a Jew of the day. It would have been not only shocking, but offensive and full of arrogance. Unless He really was God and the offenses therefore really were against Him.

 

6.  I’ve heard the quote you had that started with “a man who was merely a man…”, but never in the context used in the book. I had always thought of it as being clever, a good way to describe how an unbeliever is wrong. But it really has great potential in witnessing. I will try to look for an opportunity this week.

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“I was snowbound with a fanatic” :-).. Absolutely love how Dee expresses her angst here.

And this: “..she also left behind Mere Christianity, which I devoured”In awe of how God ambushed Dee. She really couldn’t run to her idols or distract herself from Him. 

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2. How do you feel about using images of Christ and why?

I agree that we can go too far with this just as the pendulum swings too far regarding other superfluous issues among us. :( It breaks my heart that we tend to quarrel over stuff like this-even to the point that it can divide us. I think using images of Jesus are fine if it puts you in awe or wonder of Him, (not his looks, but who He is). Some great paintings can do that and I believe God draws us through them. If we are fixated on how he might have looked then it becomes an issue and can be divisive.

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Sunday: Getting Started
1.   What stood out to you from the above, including the clip, and why?
I am behind as I am at a conference with three of my students. Anyway, Dee, I love the story of your sister, Sally sharing the gospel with you and the book Mere Christianity. While so many were encumbered most probably by the blizzard, God zeroed in on you to bring you to Himself! Talk about a very personal interest in your soul’s condition! His ways are never our ways.
 
I cried through the whole film of The Passion. It was so gruesome I covered my eyes during the flogging, spitting and mocking. The film really brought home a very keen awareness of what Christ has done for me. And I just couldn’t imagine the bodily and soul pain Jesus suffered through “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”
2.  How do you feel about using images of Christ and why?
I have never really given this very much serious thoughts until you asked here, Dee. I know, my heart vacillates between a cringe and a fascination whenever I see images of Jesus. Although I don’t pay much attention to it more than the context and content of what I am seeing or reading. But if I ask myself today, I am leaning more towards no images. I agree with Packer’s words particularly when it is in regards to worship. Nobody has a picture of Jesus and all the better.
More thoughts when I have some down time today.

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1. What stood out to you from the above, including the clip, and why?

 

Dee, your story of being trapped with your sister is humorous….sorry! It shows me that God has a sense of humor, too! It is as if Sally was the apostle Paul, ‘chasing’ you around with the Bible, and there was no way for you to escape. From the clip; I have only seen clips of this film as I have never seen it. I was never sure I could get through it, watching all the brutal scenes. Films like these can only show the physical brutality and depict the physical pain He went through, but there is no way for an actor to portray the horror Jesus must have felt when He was separated from the Father, no way for an actor to depict what it is like to have the weight of every guilty verdict for every sin falling on you.

 

2. How do you feel about using images of Christ and why?

 

I can’t say that I am against them. When I think of Michelangelo, for instance, who gave him his artistic ability and talent? He surely had a gift, and he wanted to use that gift to glorify God through his work. I have never seen the Sistine Chapel, or the famous David, but I would like to some day. I once listened to Dr. Rosie DeRosset, a professor at Moody, on Chris Fabry Live, and she made a comment about why do our churches today have to look like “Pizza Huts”? I agree. Laura remarked above about when going to a Catholic church, being surrounded by the beauty and all of your senses are involved. Wasn’t the Temple in the OT beautiful? Why do our churches today have to look like auditoriums with stages? That is what my husband would complain about, if he did attend church with me, like he was at a rock concert. On the stage under the colored lights are people. I also appreciate the beauty of Catholic and some Protestant churches, with the stained glass and things that draw your eyes and your heart upward. Now some are going to argue “why do you need such things to worship God?” We don’t, but I still think that I like to ‘feel’ like I’m in a church. But, I guess the early believers met in homes or maybe even outdoors, so they didn’t have all that. Who built the first church building anyway? I don’t think it wrong for an artist to use his or her gifts to try to represent the Lord, but of course, we have to keep it in perspective. Because of our sinful bent, we can take a thing and worship it. That does disturb me. I have visited a shrine, for example, that had a relic of a saint under glass, and in front of it was a kneeler so that you could kneel and pray before it. That, I believe, is not right.

    Reply

    I love Rosie DeRosset — “Why do our churches have to look like pizza huts?”  Such a good illustration, Susan, of using gifts in art to glorify God.

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3. Read Chapter 3 of Book II, and share what stands out to you and why.

 

This quote stood out to me, “Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source.” Lewis goes on to say that if you argue against Him, it’s like cutting off the branch you’re sitting on. This was convicting! Oh, there are times I’ve had thoughts because I don’t understand something I’ve read in the Bible or some situation or events that happen in this world, in history, or in my own life, and I think well I wouldn’t have done it that way….why did God allow that to happen like that? Just  because I have the mental ability to think and reason, question and doubt; it is therefore arrogant for me to think that my reasoning is somehow higher than His.

 

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    Susan–I like that quote too–“there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source” I love how logical he is!

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4. How does Lewis explain the problem of evil?

 

Lewis says that God created things which have free will, meaning they can go right or wrong. If a thing is free to be good, it is free to be bad. He explains that the moment you have a self, there is the possibility of putting yourself first, even of wanting to be God. This was the sin of Satan and the sin he taught the human race. It is in our minds that we can be our own master, run our own show, and make ourselves happy without God.

 

5. Why were people shocked when Jesus said He forgave sins – including sins that had been against someone else?

 

The Jews were shocked because Jesus talked as if He were God; the God who always existed, the God who made the world. To them, it was blasphemy. It is still shocking because how can a person forgive the sins of people that were done to others, not himself? When Jesus said this, it was as if He were saying that He was the one who was chiefly offended, that all sins are really against Him, meaning that He is the Law-giver. Lewis said, “This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.”

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Laura, praying for you this morning. You write that you are at a very low point right now, but it says volumes that you are still here, still holding on to Him.

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4. How does Lewis explain the problem of evil?
God gave humanity free will, the will to choose between right and wrong, good and bad.  Free will was given to allow for voluntary love, for humanity to love the Lord freely by choice. This also gives humanity the choice not to love, to choose evil over good, etc.

5. Why were people shocked when Jesus said he forgave sins–including sins against another?
It was largely the “sins against another” that was shocking and questionable to people, I think. If Jesus was just any regular guy, how could He and why would He claim to forgive an injury/sin not inflicted on Him, He wasn’t the person who had incurred the offense, that is unless He is God and therefore personally offended and wounded with every sin of humanity.

6. have you heard the argument of liar, lunatic, or Lord before?  yes
If so, how did it impact you?
I was not greatly impacted by the argument because I have always believed Jesus to be Lord, that has never really been a question in my mind.  What the argument did for me was confirm the necessity, based on all the evidence, that one must choose between the three options, as there really are no others.

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Tuesday

4.  How does Lewis explain the problem of evil?

God created things which had a free will.  Lewis says he can imagine a creature with free will going wrong.

5.  Why were people shocked when Jesus said He forgave sins – including sins that had been against someone else?

Jesus told people “that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured.  He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly  concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offenses.  This makes sense only if He was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.”

6.  Have you heard the argument of liar, lunatic, or Lord before?

No.  I’m not real sure how it would be accepted and I think there would have to be an explanation to go along with it.  Which could lead to an interesting discussion.  The example you used from “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe  was very good.

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7.  The chapter four video. The goodness God made us capable of has never been realized, and we can’t even imagine it. We were created to be tethered to God, like a kite. Satan lied to us and told us we’d be better off without Him, so we cut the string. Our freedom is actually dependent on that tether. Otherwise, just like the kite, we end up dying. In Mark two Jesus claims to be God, and the people understand that. We are the ones who get confused.

From the book. Christ’s sacrifice is not made any less for it being easier for Him to do than for us. The truth is, we don’t understand at all what He went through. Like a lone tree standing after a storm, Jesus faced the full force of evil and stayed standing, and He still is upright for us today.

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3. Read Chapter 3 of Book II. and share what stands out to you and why. Or comment on the below doodle version.

 

What stood out to me was this:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

 

I first wondered who might be a good moral teacher and thought off the top of my head it reminded me of Confucius; those moral statements and all. I looked up who Confucius was and this is what I found:

 

“The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, rules around social and family relationships, and strongly focused on law and justice.”

He was the one who said, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”

 

So how is Jesus different than Confucius? Jesus taught about being a good, loving person, yes, but He also healed people (with witnesses), He forgave them, and He died for them as well.  I suppose it’s the last statement that really struck me; that He did not come to Earth to just be a good teacher. Instead, He came to save us, that’s something Confucius could not claim to do.

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    I am wondering how Confucius could claim to forgive sins!

     

    And Laura, I agree with Susan — so good you are pressing in instead of backing up!

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Sometimes, God works by putting a series of things all on the same theme into our lives. As I am pondering CS Lewis and how to talk to others about Jesus in a way that is “heard”, God has put another influential person in my path to convince me of the importance of speaking God’s Word to others. Here is a link to John Piper called “Lord, teach us to fight”.  https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/lord-teach-us-to-fight

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    So good, Diane. Thank you!

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    Diane–so glad you posted this! I follow Piper but had missed reading this one–so good and timely!

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3. Read Chapter 3 of Book II. and share what stands out to you and why. Or comment on the below doodle version.

The question, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power? His example was good. So, like when I tell the boys to pick up their room and clean dishes and they don’t. I made it possible but they chose not to do it. That is not what I willed but my will made it possible. Free will is what has made evil possible, but Free will is also the only thing that makes possible any love or joy or goodness worth having. 

 

Worth having is huge to me.

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8.  Enemy occupied territory. I feel the bombardment daily. The pressure to quit trying to live for Christ. The vast amount of human suffering around us. The whispers saying it will never change.

how does it impact me? Totally depends on where I go with it. I can either go to what I see, hear, feel and settle in to being occupied. Or I can flee to Jesus and see the reality that He is Sovereign. He reigns in me as I obey Him, and ultimately will reign over all the earth.

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    So true, Mary.

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3. Read Chapter 3 of Book II. and share what stands out to you and why. Or comment on the below doodle version.

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history … the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

What everyone wants is to be happy! And when we combine that with the unspoken lie that we know what is best for ourselves, that is, we are our own masters –  we are our own god not Almighty God. What a recipe for despair that is!

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Wednesday 

7.  Read The Perfect Penitent and share what stood out to you and why?

”But supposing God became a man-suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person-then that person could help us. He could surrender his will, and suffer and die, because He was a man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God.”

 I could of used the reasonsing of Lewis in a conversation I had with a preacher not long ago, who tried to convince me that Jesus was not God.  I was intimidated for two reasons. 1)  He was a preacher.  2)  He had reasons why he thought it to be true and it caught me totally by surprise.  If I ever have the chance to speak with him again I feel I would be better prepared.

8.  Lewis says we are living in “enemy-occupied” territory.  How aware are you of this and how does it impact you?

I’m aware of of it in the battles I have with the temptation to put self first…trying to live in my own strength.  It leads to sin, whether in my thoughts or actions…Christ is not glorified in my life and I’m miserable!

9.  Lewis addresses the reason Christ died-how does he explain it?

He explains it as a debt…”If you take ‘paying the penalty’, not in the sense of being punished, but in the more general sense of …’footing the bill’, then, of course, it is s matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend.”

I think of the song, Jesus Paid It All, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

10.  Some say it was easy for Christ to go through the crucifixion, for He was God.  What does Lewis say?

Lewis uses the illustration of the teacher helping a child form letters.  Because its easy for the teacher, he can help the child.  But if the child rejected learning from the teacher and chose to have another child who can’t write teach him, it wouldn’t work out.

Listening to the video he says “One doesn’t really understand how difficult something is, until they really try to  go through it.”  Then he goes on with an illustration about a storm going through the Douglas Firs in Oregon and waking up to see all the trees have fallen except one. Of all the trees in the forests which one knows the full force of the storm…the one left standing.

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    Good notes, Sharon!

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6. Have you heard the argument of liar, lunatic, or Lord before? If so, how did it impact you?

 

I’m not sure I heard that statement except in the past few years and I think I first heard it here. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who only believed that Jesus was a good man or moral teacher. If I do, then I think the questions I should ask are: can you tell me anything that Jesus said as He taught? I would want to know if they knew about any of His statements regarding that He is God, or like “I am the way, the truth and the life”….and ask them how they could think he’s just a good guy; if they really think it through, what is He actually saying?

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9.  Lewis says Jesus died to put us right with God and give us a fresh start, though how it works sparks debate, and we don’t comprehend it.

 

10.  Was it easy for Jesus to go to the cross because He was God?

Compared to me going, it was easy, because for me it would be impossible. But not easy for Him as a man. He sweat blood in the agony of facing it. Lewis says we needed Him to do it, but that doesn’t make it unfair. It just made it possible. I like what the video said about the last tree standing after a storm. That tree alone knew the full force. We will never understand all Christ withstood, because we fall over at the slightest breeze. There is a verse in Jeremiah that talks about if you can’t compete with men, how will you race against horses? Jesus did it, and won, for us.

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4. How does Lewis explain the problem of evil?

 

Lewis says that evil has made himself the “Prince of this World” because God gave humans free will. It seems to conflict with the idea of God’s will. Humans can go right or wrong in our world; to understand good we must know what evil is also.

 
5. Why were people shocked when Jesus said He forgave sins — including sins that had been against someone else?
 

Jesus claimed to be God, who Jews believed was an entity outside of their world who made them and the world, not an entity within their world.

 
6. Have you heard the argument of liar, lunatic, or Lord before? If so, how did it impact you?
 

I have heard the phrase from the movie “The Case for Christ” (I think). I thought it interesting but didn’t give it that much thought?

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11.  Chapter 5 notes…We begin life because of sex, without our consent. The same God who designed sex to be the spreading of physical life also designed how spiritual life is spread. He again did it without our consent. Without someone explaining it to us, we would never naturally connect sex with a new human. In the same way, we do not naturally understand how baptism, belief and communion spread new life to us. It takes effort to keep physical life, and effort to keep spiritual life. To let questions about the people who’ve never heard of Christ keep you from becoming a Christian is very unreasonable. If you want them to hear, then become part of Christ’s body and help. Some ask why He came in disguise. Why didn’t He come as God and prove Himself? Lewis said it is because when He does that, it will be The End, and we will no longer be able to enter freely.

 

12.  Lewis says Christianity spreads by baptism, belief and communion. I really struggle with the idea that baptism or communion can bring anyone into the fold. Both Hitler and Stalin had been baptized and took communion, and by all accounts they didn’t benefit by it. Both baptism and communion are things that can be done without any agreement with Christ. I can’t see how a person can become a Christian without saying yes to Jesus and all He did for us. I think that both baptism and communion are things to do because you already believe. The baptism is to say to the world that you belong to Jesus and identify with his death and resurrection and how He washed away your sins. Communion is remembering on a regular basis His sacrifice until He comes again. I am grateful there is room for disagreement!

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    I found Lewis’s comments on baptism and communion interesting, and suspect that is, in part, why he is popular with Catholics. I didn’t think he was saying they would bring anyone in the fold, but I could see how, through Catholic eyes, it could be interpreted that way.

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Thursday

11.  Read The Practical Conclusion and share what stood out to you and why?

Lewis talks about it being unfair that Christianity should be confined to only those who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him.  I have had this conversation with many people and I really like Lewis’s argument.  “Truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are.  We do not know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.”  He then goes on to say and I love this…”But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is remain outside yourself.”  

12.  What three ways does Lewis say Christ’s life spreads to us?  What thoughts do you have on this?

Baptism, belief, and communion.  I wasn’t real sure at first what I though of this but then later in the chapter he talks about how this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but bodily acts like baptism and communion.  “God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature.  That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.”  Baptism is an outward expression of ones commitment to Christ.  Communion is a reminder of what Christ did for us on the cross but also a time to search our hearts and make things right with Him.

13.  Why is the Christian in a different position than others who are trying to be good?

Quoting Lewis, “The Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him.  He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”

14.  Why is Jesus slow in returning?  

He wants all to have a chance to join His side.

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Optional: Read this one page article on the reception to Mere Christianity — I found it fascinating. If you read it, share one thing that stood out to you.

“he does not simply present arguments; rather, he acts more like a friendly companion on a journey. To expand on that image: he is like a companion on a hike who is an expert naturalist and points out all sorts of flora or tiny flowers or rock formations that you would have missed on your own.”

I have a fear and general dislike of “arguing”- not because of debating itself but because of the often defensive and accusatory tone (and sometimes demeaning words used). Lewis seems to be able to share his arguments and still sound like a “friendly companion on a journey” or hike. I am aware of my weakness and nervousness in arguing with someone – aware that in my nervousness I often sound defensive (maybe even annoyed or angry) even if that is not my intention. This makes me nervous of arguing for Christ lest I turn them off with my tone. If I think people are going to disagree with me, I generally keep quiet. If I am going to speak openly about Christ with unbelievers, I have to get over this fear.

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    I understand. Lord, may each of us not fear disagreement but give us the wisdom to help disagreements become friendly discussions, where we don’t become angry, defensive, and rude.

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Firday

Optional:  Read this one page article on the reception to Mere Christianity – I found it fascinating.  If you read it share one thing that stood out to you.

This was a very interesting read.  The author summarizes 7 traits that he identifies as contributing to the book’s genius.  Number 2 stood out to me which is, Lewis uses a common nature as the point of contact with his audiences.  As a “literary scholar he combined that expertise with a good ear for listening to his less-educated neighbors or tradespeople.”  “When speaking on the BBC to just about every sort of person he knew where to begin – with our common sense that there is a right and wrong.”  “He knew how to put himself in the shoes of his audience.”

Not that I’m the literary scholar Lewis was or think I’m any more educated than others, but I can be a better listener, try to understand the person I’m taking with and put myself in their shoes.  I think with this thought in mind I can remain calm and really show that person that I’m interested in what they have to say. Lead the conversation to the subject of right and wrong and once again really listening to their response.

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    Firday is really Friday!😜

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13.  Others who try to be good think they are either pleasing God or impressing people. Christians realize any good they do if from Christ within. We are not good to make God love us, but because we know God’s love for us, we want to do good so that He gets glory.

 

14.  Jesus is slow in returning exactly as Peter explains it, to give more time for more people to choose Him freely.

 

Reception to the book. Lewis invites us to really look at the Christian message and not miss parts of it. To see it not as a bunch of teachings, but as a beautiful and basic reality.

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8. Lewis says we are living in “enemy-occupied” territory. How aware are you of this and how does it impact you?
I am very aware of this…I witness lack of integrity, self-interest, pridefulness, etc., I see the evil one playing his games, drawing people into his web of deceit, promising persons what their sinful nature desires, only to eventually “rip them to shreds” and/or derail righteous efforts.  It impacts my ability and willingness to trust, many times I question what the “end game” really is, genuineness, authenticity.
To say nothing of the suffering…human trafficking, slavery, war, genocide, etc.

9. Lewis addresses the reason Jesus died–how does he explain it?
Jesus died to make humanity right with God; Jesus provided humanity with the opportunity for a “fresh start,”disabling death, becoming human while still God to pay humanity’s sin debt.

10. Some say it was easy for Jesus to go through the crucifixion, for He was God. What does Lewis say?
In the way it is easier for a teacher to teach a student a subject in which s/he is knowledgeable, so it is with Jesus…Lewis says that “the perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God.”

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8. Lewis says we are living in “enemy-occupied” territory. How aware are you of this and how does it impact you?
 

It is the evil around us that is the “enemy occupied territory.” Well, every moment in my life I feel like I have to ward off things of this world to remember I am a child of the most high; God. I tend to forget as I am going through the daily grind. My actions reflect who I am and often times I don’t think I project I am a Christian. Sad but true. Am I compassionate? Do I love? Choose well in circumstances? Humble? You get the idea here.

9. Lewis addresses the reason Christ died — how does he explain it?

He died so we could be known to God; to be loved again and in good standing. He says that Christ’s death gave us a fresh start.

 
10. Some say it was easy for Christ to go through the crucifixion, for He was God. What does Lewis say?
 

“The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God.”

 

But then he says that the teacher must know more than the child; the unfair advantage (of knowing more) assists us in our understanding. “To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?“

 

 

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11. Read The Practical Conclusion and share what stood out to you and why. 
 
I thought it is interesting how Lewis says that people who wish for God to Interfere don’t really know what they are talking about because it would then be the end of the world. Those who have chosen well would be okay but those who hadn’t would not be able to choose Him; it would be too late. I guess this makes me sad for the family members who, as Nanci said, “just want a little bit of Jesus.”
 
12. What three ways does Lewis say Christ’s life spreads to us? What thoughts do you have on this?

His life spreads to us through baptism, Holy Communion, and belief.  Baptism is my favorite ceremony in church! I love that the church family agrees to help raise the child. It’s so moving to have a group of people  on it to something like that together. I also like that we have Communion each month in our church to remind us of the Lord.

 
13. Why is the Christian in a different position than others who are trying to be good? 
 Christians believe that their goodness actually comes from Christ within them. They are actually acting out what Christ (in their bodies) desires.

 
14. Why is Jesus slow in returning?
He wants to give us the chance of joining Him freely, not by a “gun to the head.”

 

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    Laura — again — so proud of you for seeking as you do — I know the pain has made you so thirsty for Him — and in glory you’ll be shining, I know!

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      Thanks Dee. I can’t give up on God; what real hope would I have then?

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I know most are finished with this weeks’ study, however if someone finds their way back here  could they help me understand something? I just finished reading the reception article from the C.S. Lewis Institute (crazy how they have a whole institute for him, huh?) and don’t understand the argument against the liar, lunatic, or Lord “trilemma.” It says that some disagree with the logic of the trilemma in that the apostles could have recognized Jesus’ divinity later. I don’t get that argument. Can someone explain?

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    I believe it refers to “legend” and the questions raised regarding whether the gospels are true representations of Jesus, exaggerations or something invented by the authors similar to St. Nicholas being Santa Clause.

    Laura, google “Atheism 101, how to respond to the Liar, Lunatic, or Lord argument”…you’ll come up with many articles.

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12. What three ways does Lewis say Christ’s life spreads through to us?
1. baptism, 2. belief, 3. holy communion

13. Why is the Christian in a different position than other who are trying to be good?
The Christian believes that any good done by him/her is a byproduct of the Holy Spirit within…God doesn’t love us because we are good; it is by his love that he makes us good.

14. Why is Jesus slow in returning?
The Lord is providing ample time for people to make a decision to repent of their sin and accept Jesus’ gift of saving grace.  Once Jesus returns, the time for decision-making will have run out, there will be no time left to choose Jesus.

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