Time with Clive Staples

For the past week I’ve been reading through C.S. Lewis’ the Problem of Pain. It is Lewis’ response to the problem of evil/”pain” in the world. C.S. Lewis has certainly made an impact through the 20th century and now into the 21st. His books Mere Christianity, the Chronicles of Narnia, and the Screwtape Letters are classics. Screwtape being one of my favourite works of literature I’ve ever read. I was able to teach the 31st chapter of the book in my British Lit. Senior English class during high school, and as a result share the gospel with my class. I know of at least two classes at school that have used Lewis as required text. It goes without saying that the writing of C.S. Lewis has a serious influence upon the classroom and contemporary Christianity.

As I am reading through my book I find myself really having to think as Lewis is proposing new ideas to me. I find wonderful nuggets of truth as I cast my eyes upon the pages. I can easily see how so many of my friends have Lewis listed as a favourite authour or have him under their favourite quotes on Facebook.

Here is a bit of a lengthy bit that I found quite edifying:

When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sounds to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good , and our good is to love him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him: and if we known Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God—though it may be nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturley participation the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to ‘put on Christ’, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.

Good stuff.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

That ^^^ especially.

I know that there are few people that I read that I find myself completely yolked with their thoughts and arguments. I don’t expect to pick up a work by an Anglican and expect him to teach as a Reformed Baptist. But one thing I’ve read in particular caught me a bit off guard.

Lewis on Total Depravity:

I disbelieve that doctrine, partly on the logical ground that if our depravity were total we should not know ourselves to be depraved, and partly because experience shows us much goodness in human nature.

I sat back and read that paragraph again. I’ve never really thought of the doctrine of Total Depravity as a majorly debated issue. Of the five points of Calvinism this is probably the least debated. Scripture in Romans 3 seems to tell a different story of mankind than Mr. Lewis as does Romans 6 and 7 to recognizing our depravity. As I continue reading I still believe the book to be worth reading and I find Mr. Lewis teaching me 69 years after his first printing of the Problem of Pain. I plan to blog a bit more as I continue reading and finish the book.



2 thoughts on “Time with Clive Staples

  1. Lewis is quite the interesting figure. I wish you could have taken the Lewis class with Dr. Travers at SECWF before he left. But, we specifically talked about the “depravity” quote from him.I think he makes a valid point, except that he leaves one important part out of the equation–the Holy Spirit. Calvin (I’m reading the Institutes with Reformation21….it’s pretty awesome) says in the opening chapter or two that man is too fallen to get a clear picture of himself, as we would never see our fallenness for what it is. So I think Calvin would agree with Lewis on that point about depravity–that if it was total, we could never know it. But Lewis leaves the Spirit’s quickening out of the equation–the question is was this simply an oversight, or does this show some other deficiency in his doctrine.Anyway, I love that photo of Lewis smoking his pipe. Stupid covenant. 😉

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