Friday, April 6, 2012

We Have Cause to Be Uneasy—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

"We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place ... you want to be.... If you are on the wrong road ... the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pig headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, It is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake."

"We have only got as far as a Somebody or Something behind the Moral Law. We are not taking anything from the Bible or the Churches; we are trying to see what we can find out about this Somebody on our own steam.... We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody"the Mind behind the Moral Law"one is the universe He has made.... I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but ... the universe is [also] a very dangerous ... place." The Moral Law is better evidence than the created universe "because it is inside information.... The Being behind the universe is intensely interested in right conductin fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness," but not "indulgent or soft.... The Moral Law ... is as hard as nails. It tells you ... the straight thing and it does not seem to care how painful ... dangerous, or difficult it is to do."

"It is no use ... saying that if there is a God of that sort ... then you do not like Him and are not going to bother about Him.... One part of you is on His side and really agrees with His disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation.... God is the only comfort; He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have all reacted the wrong way."

"Christianity simply does not make any sense until you have faced the sort of facts I have been describing. Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing ... to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the Law, and that you have broken that Law and put yourself wrong with that Powerit is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk. When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor. When you have realized that our position is nearly desperate you will begin to understand what the Christians are talking about. They offer an explanation of how we got into our present state of both hating goodness and loving it. They offer an explanation of how God can be this impersonal mind at the back of the Moral Law and yet also a Person. They tell you how the demands of this Lawwhich you and I cannot meethave been met on our behalf [and] how God Himself becomes a man to save man from the disapproval of God."

"The Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get neither comfort nor truth—only ... wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. Most of us have got over ... wishful thinking about international politics. It is time we did the same about religion."

Christianity Honestly Faces Why We Are Ill at Ease and Offers Hope

Highlights from chapter 5: We Have Cause to Be Uneasy, book 1: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  Click here for a clear view of how this chapter relates to the whole book.

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