We Begin Book II of Mere Christianity,
and you’ll be heartened to know it is easier!
Congratulations to you who made it through Book I,
which is, in my opinion, the hardest of the four books.
Now that it is easier, we will be covering 2 or 3 short chapters a week,
covering Book II in our two remaining weeks in June.
Truly, this is a perfect time to invite friends to join us — they won’t
be behind, for Lewis continually summarizes where he has been, for these
were originally radio broadcasts, and his audience kept growing.
In Book I, Lewis logically explained, without referring to Scripture,
the evidence that there must be a “moral law-giver,”
and he summarizes his reasoning in the first chapter of “Book II.”
Book II now moves to actual Christianity.
You’ll start recognizing famous quotes,
such as the one Rachael denHollander quoted when she presented the gospel to her Olympic physician and childhood molester in court this year. Within her remarks, broadcast around the world, she said:
Throughout this process, I have clung to a quote by C. S. Lewis, where he says, “My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?”
Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was.
Lewis begins with comparing the foundational Christian beliefs, which all true believers of any denomination hold to, (hence, “Mere Christianity)
with “rival conceptions of God.”
Those “rival” conceptions include atheism and those religions that believe that god is beyond good and evil, so there is no plumb line for right and wrong.
My illustration for Book II is Eric Liddell,
who most of us know from the movie Chariots of Fire.
When Lewis was broadcasting in the early 1940’s, this Olympic champion was living in a Japanese prison camp, for after the Olympics he went to China as a missionary during World War II.
Liddell died as he lived, and was sometimes called a “Mere Christian,”
for he so exemplified the talks Lewis was giving on the radio.
Here is a famous scene from Chariots of Fire:
Eric had told his sister Jenny that he was going as a missionary to China, but that first, he was going to run in the Olympics, because, he said,
“When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
This week I watched the movie covering the 2nd half of Liddell’s life,
and was so inspired. Here is the trailer, to whet your taste to watch this movie, or the free documentary I will provide this week.
1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
2. What do you know about the life of Eric Liddell, if anything?
Monday: The Rival Conceptions of God
3. Read Chapter 1 of Book II: The Rival Conceptions of God, underlining. Share one thing that really stood out to you.
For those of you who would rather listen or find hearing it after reading it to be helpful, here is this good resource from the C. S. Lewis Institute:
Tuesday: Reflecting on Chapter 1.
The First Division: Christianity from Atheism
4. Why do atheists believe all religions are wrong?
5. Lewis says “If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all of these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth.” What thoughts do you have on this?
The Second Division: There is an objective good and evil or there is not
Pantheists and Hindus, think “god” is beyond good and evil. However, Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans believe there is an objective good and evil. Though it may seem amazing that some think there is not an objective good and evil, they do, so they defend all religions, even Satanic ones. I remember a conversation my friend Lee Petno, who had just returned from a mission to Haiti, had with an unbelieving friend of mine when Lee visited me at my cottage. Here was the conversation:
My friend: Why did you go to Haiti, Lee?
Lee: My husband, who is a cardiologist, and I, were ministering to the people medically — and we were telling them about Jesus.
My friend: Why were you trying to convert them?
Lee: Well, one reason is that many practice Voodoo.
My friend: Don’t you think there are some good things in Voodoo?
Lee: (Astonished) Good things in Voodoo?
6. Challenge: Reflecting on what you have learned from Lewis so far, what might be some good questions for that unbelieving friend? (I’m eager to hear your answers!)
7. When Lewis was an atheist, what was his argument against God? And how was that argument self-defeating?
One of the most inspirational characteristics of Eric Liddell was that he chose what was right, even when the consequences were severe. Not running on Sunday was the heart of Chariots of Fire, but oh, what he gave up during the war. He had to say goodbye to his pregnant wife and two daughters when he returned to China as a missionary in World War II. Here she is with all three daughters — Eric never met his third daughter.
When Eric had a chance to be released from the prison camp, he gave up that chance and asked that a pregnant woman be freed in his place. He wrote to his wife, Florence, “I know you would have done the same.” He lived and died by the straight line. He died in that prison camp.
Wednesday: Book II, Chapter II. The Invasion
7. Read this chapter, underlining, and share one thing that stood out to you.
Thursday-Friday: Reflections on Chapter II. The Invasion
8. What does Lewis mean by “Christianity and water?”
9. I’ve always liked this quote from Lewis: “Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. …It [Christianity] has just that queer twist about it that real things have.” I often think of it when God surprises me — with things like circumcision and the sacrifice of animals and turning water into wine. What surprises you about Christianity?
10. What does Lewis mean when he says evil is a parasite rather than an original thing?
11. We live in enemy-occupied territory, but, Lewis says, “the King has landed.” What do you think this mean to those who were living in the horror of W. W. II?
What does it mean to you in your life right now?
12. Why did we need an invasion?
For those who would like to know more about Eric Liddell, here is a documentary on his life, entitled “Mere Christian.” If you watch, share your comments.
13. What is your take-a-way and why?