Theology, or doctrine, matters.
It influences our thinking,
and our thinking shapes how we live.
Let me illustrate.
Living close to my daughter Sally the last five years has given me the opportunity to teach Sadie, their firstborn, the first twenty five answers to the questions in the Reformed Catechism for Young Children. (Available online)
Sadie lights up with pleasure in being able to answer these questions so perfectly.
Sadie answers: For His own glory.
Now I know that much of this she will only understand later, but I see it seeping into her thinking, and that gives me joy. We were reading a book about what we can learn from dogs, for Sadie plays with toys dogs and her own real dog (who must endure much dressing up) all day long.
This book showed a cartoon of a happy dog running and the caption read:
“Dogs teach us the purpose of life is to be happy.”
Sadie frowned and said:
“No. That’s not right. The purpose of life is to give God glory.”
And then I grinned with pleasure!
“That’s exactly right, Sadie! When we do that we are surprised by joy! The man who wrote Narnia says, ‘if you seek happiness you won’t find it, but if you seek God, joy will be thrown in.'”
I tell you this because if you feel like you are getting a headache from Lewis’s chapters on theology, it is a good headache, for theology truly affects our thinking, and therefore our lives.
I’m so pleased with those who are staying with us, for indeed, I think the last of Mere Christianity is some of its best, and can profoundly change your life. Because these chapters are challenging, I’m going to summarize the key points from each chapter first, with scriptural support for Lewis, and then we will listen or read the chapter. And there are just two short chapters this week.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Challenge question: Give an example of how theology or doctrine has affected your thinking and therefore your life.
Monday-Tuesday: Good Infection (Joining into the Dance)
Here Lewis moves into the Trinity, reminding me so much of our study on the Trinity with Mike Reeves. Unlike other religions, which have either monolithic gods or warring Gods, our Trinitarian God is love, having been in a relationship from all eternity. The Father delights in the Son, the Son looks up to the Father. “It is, as Lewis says, “if you do not think me irreverent, almost like a dance.”
Why is this important? Because rather than trying harder, as other religions tell us to do, in Christianity we are asked to join in the dance, to join in this fellowship and we will be, as Lewis said, “splashed upon” or “infected with a good infection.”
3. How does John put it in 1 John 1:1-4? Read it slowly and share anything that becomes “radioactive.”
4. Read or listen to Book 4: Chapter 4 (Good Infection) and share your notes or comments.
Lewis closes this chapter with this statement:
5. How does John express this thought in 1 John 3:1-5? Read it slowly and share anything that becomes radioactive.
7. How does Paul express this thought in Romans 8:28-29? Read it slowly and share anything that becomes radioactive.
Thursday-Friday: The Obstinate Toy Soldiers
8. Lewis says that, before Christ rescues us (and perhaps also to a degree after) we are obstinate to surrender for we know that it is the death of self will and we fight it tooth and nail. Did you have that experience or do you see it in yourself now?
9. What does Jesus tell us in Matthew 10:38-39? Have you experienced this?
10. Lewis tells us the uniqueness of Christianity is not trying harder but surrendering. How does Zechariah 4:6 express this and have you experienced this?
11. Read or Listen to Book 4 Chapter 5 and share your notes or comments.
12. What is your take-a-way and why?