How To Change (Mere Christianity)

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. The third question asks: Why did God make you and all things? 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) […]

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Sensing Beauty in the World Will Never Save Us (The Necessity of Theology)

Oh, I do believe this final section will be my favorite. Though warned against it, Lewis closes with theology. Why? Though it is true, Lewis says, that we may sense God in beauty, and the world prefers that to theology for it is less work, still, he admonishes: You will never get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Don’t misunderstand — I loved it when Julie Andrews sang “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” Indeed — they are. Creation cries out with the glory of God, But if we do not have the Word as well, we will be misguided. Even in this beautiful movie there was some very bad theology. See if you can spot it in this song:   These are going to be valuable weeks, and we are right on […]

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If nothing on this earth can satisfy…Lewis on Hope and Faith

I wait all year for Door County summers: for the beauty and the warmth, for the joy of children and grandchildren coming     and for times on the back porch, talking with friends about things that matter, while the waves lap against the shore. And yet, as blessed as I am, and I know I am, none of these things truly satisfy. This is why: Some of my favorite quotes are in these short but pithy closing chapters of Book 3 of Mere Christianity: words that penetrate my heart and help me live in a world, though echoing of Eden, is still, as Lewis says, “enemy territory.” We’ve had so much joy, but each day is always also dampened by disappointment: sickness, bee stings, jealousy and fighting among the children, 3 trips to Urgent Care in July alone, continual noise […]

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The Great Sin: Mere Christianity

This is the chapter that may shake your world. I’m reading an old tattered copy that has notes and underlinings from my then teenage daughter, Sally. This chapter is particularly full of underlinings, confessions, and determined prayers. Her own testimony is that during all of her childhood she thought Christ chose her because she was such a good girl, but then God opened her eyes to the great sin. This is the chapter that brought Charles Colson to repentance. This is the chapter that led Tom Monaghan, devout Catholic and founder Domino’s Pizza, to stop building his mansion. Tim Keller says his two main mentors have been Jonathan Edwards and C. S. Lewis — and I hear Lewis’s thinking so often in Keller, and will share one such sermon that I believe may have been inspired by this chapter in […]

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C. S. Lewis on Marriage and Forgiveness:

So much has been written on marriage and forgiveness, but Lewis has some fresh ideas, and I’m looking forward to edifying discussions! When he gave his radio address on marriage he thought it might be his most unpopular address, but then he changed his mind when he spoke on forgiveness, saying, this would be the most unpopular subject. Remember, he was speaking to an audience who were experiencing terrible atrocities from the Nazis. Lewis said: Forgiveness is hard, for it means letting someone off the hook who does not deserve to be let off the hook! As Lewis said: I’d like to tell you a story Billy told at my church, The Orchard, recently. Billy was baptized in the lake outside my house two summers ago, after “everything in his head fell to his heart” while mowing the lawn. Billy and […]

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C. S. Lewis and Sexuality

Lewis continues foundational arguments on Christian behavior, and then begins with specific categories, the first being sexuality. It is remarkable how contemporary he is, and yet that should only give us confidence in the principles he has found in God’s Word. Jesus, who is the Word, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Man nor culture can change God’s standard for sexuality. Because God’s plan for sexuality is true, only harm, monstrous harm, can come from flaunting His boundaries. Remembering that these were radio addresses originally, Lewis does repeat himself, for the benefit of listeners who have just tuned in, and because, as he says: “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” He reminds us that morality, including sexual morality, is not a matter of personal preference, but a design of our Creator. Yet man wants to be sovereign […]

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Christian Behavior (Beginning Book 3 of Mere Christianity)

Congratulations to all who have made it this far! Now, in July, we will cover Book 3 of Mere Christianity: CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR Lewis begins with some foundational principles, showing how the following world’s standard of morality: is radically different than Christianity’s standard of behavior. The truth is, even if we are in the privacy of our own bedroom, what we do does affect others, for as John Donne put it: Lewis says: “Moral rules are instructions for running a machine.” When we break the moral rule, even in the privacy of our own home, whether it is too much food, too much television, or too much ruminating over wrongs done to us, we hurt our machine, which is part of the big machine of society. Or, as Jesus puts it, “a little yeast can ruin the whole dough.” Lewis also dismantles […]

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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, […]

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What Christians Believe (Mere Christianity)

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, […]

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We Have Cause To Be Uneasy (Ch. 5 of Mere Christianity)

We come to the close of Part I, or Book 1 of Mere Christianity. Lewis has established that outside of anything you learn from “the Bible or churches,” we know intrinsically that there is a moral law, so therefore, there must be a moral lawgiver. That also means, as Lewis says, “We have cause to be uneasy.” Why? Because we know there is a moral law, and yet, we cannot keep it. The world does seem to recognize the importance of love. Do you remember the movie, Alfie? Burt Bacharach’s song was haunting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIO3eDdfHcs   Likewise many of you may have watched parts of Prince Harry’s Royal Wedding. Let me say there was much that was beautiful — and a “Royal Wedding” is such a picture of Psalm 45, and the wedding in the Song, and Bishop Curry did point […]

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# 3 Mere Christianity: The Moral Law (Ch. 3-4)

Fish do what their Maker created them to do Birds do what their Maker created them to do F The sun does what its’ Maker created it to do W Wildflowers do what their Maker created them to do But man has a quarrel with His Maker   Many of you, and I myself, admit that Mere Christianity is challenging! So I find it fascinating that when Lewis was on the radio, amidst the horror of World War II, men and women who were educated and uneducated; rich and poor, and religious or irreligious listened with rapt attention. When Lewis would come on the radio, one who was there said they would say: Shut up blokes! Mr. Lewis in on! When God shakes our world, we often become desperate for Him, and cry out to Him, and He comes running to […]

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# 2 Chapter 2 of Mere Christianity: Objections

Remembering that these were originally radio broadcasts, Lewis has received some objections to his thesis that God puts a moral law within the souls of humans. I OBJECT! A good apologist knows how to handle objections. So in chapter 2, Lewis “wants to stop and make his foundation firm” before continuing. So he addresses these objections one by one. In this, Lewis shows us a wise apologist. He listens so carefully that he can repeat back to his objector his argument so clearly that the objector knows he has been heard — and then and only then does he attempt to dismantle the argument. Listen to just the first two minutes of this video, and then tell us the first two steps of overcoming objections. (Though the context is sales, this works for anything!) Sunday: 1. What stands out to you from […]

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# 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. 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 […]

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SUMMER BOOK CLUB! GET READY, GET SET!

You are invited to Join us In A Summer Book Club! I read more in the summer, and I’m always looking for a good book. This week we’re going to get ready to read a good book together. What book, other than the Bible, has been applauded by Christians more than any other? What book brought sanity to the world in a time of Hitler’s insanity?  What book caused Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, to pull his car off to the side of the road and surrender his life to Christ? What book caused Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, to stop building his dream house when it was 1/3 done? What book convinced me that I needed to take the claims of Jesus Christ seriously? Without looking ahead, can you give a guess? If you are new to […]

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Degrees of Happiness in Heaven (Final on Heaven)

We’ve learned that the New Heaven and the New Earth is not some ethereal place in the sky where we float, but tangible, exciting, and beautiful, like the best of earth. We will have resurrected bodies that can be recognized, that can be touched, and can eat — like that of our Lord’s.     We will be with God and we will be His people. He will rejoice in us, and we in Him. There will be a sense of community, of family, and we will fellowship around the table, loving the Lord and one another. There will be an animal kingdom, but they will not be at war with humans or one another. Our own Sharon took this photo. John Eldredge spoke of the scene after Jesus resurrection when he made a fire on the beach, and said, […]

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