Sunday, September 30, 2012

Neither Individualism Nor Totalitarianism—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis tells us, "One sensible critic wrote asking me why, if God wanted sons instead of 'toy soldiers' [the key image of his last chapter], He did not beget many sons at the outset instead of first making toy soldiers and then bringing them to life by such a difficult and painful process. One part of the answer to this question is fairly easy: the other part is probably beyond all human knowledge. The easy part is this. The process of being turned from a creature into a son would not have been difficult or painful if the human race had not turned away from God centuries ago. They were able to do this because He gave them free will. He gave them free will because a world of automatons could never love and therefore never know infinite happiness. The difficult part is this: All Christians are agreed that there is, in the full and original sense, only one 'Son of God.' If we insist on asking, 'But could there have been many?' we find ourselves in very deep water. Have the words 'could have been' any sense at all when applied to God ... the rock bottom, irreducible Fact on which all other facts depend?"

"Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a bodydifferent from one another and each contributing what no other could.... When you are tempted not to bother about someone else's troubles because they are 'no business of yours,' remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you. If you forget that he belongs to the same organism as yourself, you will become an Individualist. If you forget that he is a different organ from you, if you want to suppress differences and make people all alike, you will become a Totalitarian.... The devil sends errors into the world in pairspairs of opposites.... He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them."
Highlights from Chapter 6: Two Notes, Book 4: Beyond Personality, or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity 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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