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Monday, September 24, 2012

Faith as Belief—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Faith+Reason VS. Emotion+Imagination
C.S. Lewis devotes two chapters to faith in Mere Christianity. Here's why: "The word Faith seems to be used by Christians in two senses.... In the first sense it means simply Beliefaccepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity.... I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtuewhat is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements?.... I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so. For example, my mind is perfectly convinced by good evidence that ... properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But ... I am afraid they will start cutting me up before I am properly under.... The battle is between faith and reason on the one side and emotion and imagination on the other.... Faith is the art of holding onto things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your moods.... Unless you teach your moods 'where they get off,' you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro."

"One must train the habit of Faith.... Some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and church-going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?"

"Now I must turn to Faith in the second or higher sense.... You may remember I said ... the first step toward humility was to realize that one is proud.... The next step is to make some serious attempt to practice the Christian virtues.... The main thing we learn ... is that we fail.... God has been waiting for the moment ... you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in [an] exam or putting Him in your debt. Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God.... It is after this that real life begins."

Highlights from chapter 11: Faith, book 3: Christian Behaviour 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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