Focus Guide for the Study of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis This Focus Guide was written by a Sunday School Teacher at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Emmett, Idaho 1 February Anno Domini 2002 Mere Christianity Focus Guide An overview Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, the British academic, Christian writer, and literary critic, is a book that makes the reader think. It purports to be four books wrapped into one. The work is based on radio talks given by Lewis over the BBC radio between 1942 and 1944, a dangerous and deadly time for Britain – a time when, remarkably, the BBC wanted Britons to know what Christians believe. Can you imagine a similar desire by any secular broadcast media, today? Moving forward sixty years to our post-9/11 World, U. S. citizens likely possess some of the same concerns of the Londoners during the Blitz. What is our enemy up to? Will we suffer more attacks of mass destruction? Will our country ever be normal again? Can we ever be safe? Why is this happening to us? Is God punishing our country? As we think about these things, there is a clear sense of American determination and resolve, but our anxiety is obvious. Moreover, just like the Brits of two generations ago, our country is thinking more introspectively. Many of us are thinking about our relationships with others, especially loved ones. Are we really treating them the way we should? What if we part for work one morning, never to see each other again because of another attack? How will we (or they) remember our last moments together? What about our neighbors? Are our actions and speech toward them full of grace – or full of disaffection? In times like these, how in the world should we act? Mere Christianity is a great book to help with some of these questions. It is especially suited for high school or adult Sunday School classes. Book I, entitled by Lewis as “Right And Wrong As a Clue To the Meaning Of the Universe,” brings to mind Paul’s strong statement in Romans, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God had made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Rom 1: 18-20; NIV). Interestingly, Lewis summed up the whole of Christianity as the “putting on of Christ.” But what does that mean? The one doctrine that is foundational and primary, indeed, the very essence of Christianity, can be simply stated. Sinners are justified solely by God’s grace, and this gift of grace (to be redundant) can be obtained only through faith in Christ’s substitutionary atonement. Now while this doctrine might be simply stated, we ought not to be surprised that it doesn’t make much sense. After all, there’s nothing particularly rational about it when we think in terms of human sacrifice. Nevertheless, its unmistakable enunciation is divinely declared throughout scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Perhaps this doctrine becomes more palpable if we think of it in terms of a rich friend coming to the aid of a bankrupt by paying the bankrupt’s debts in full. In any event, this doctrine in particular, and Christianity as a whole, is hard – and easy – at the same time. But the doctrine of justification presupposes five other fundamental doctrines that cannot be denied. That is to say, any religion that does not believe, teach, and confess these doctrines may be a legitimate religion as far as the notion of legal status goes, but it is decidedly not Christian. These presupposed doctrines are as follows: 1. Sin (and its consequences); 2. The Person of Jesus the Christ (true man and true God); 3. The Work of the Incarnate Son of God (the Atonement); 4. The Resurrection; 5. The Word of God (faith in and belief that this Gospel is true). The reader is invited to keep score, to see how Lewis lines up with these doctrines in Mere Christianity. This brings us to the purpose of the Focus Guide. It is intended first to assist those who might be studying Mere Christianity in a group setting. The “focus” is set out in the form of questions serving as “launch points” for discussion. This is not to say, however, that a group leader couldn’t craft better “launch points” with different questions taking a different focus. A second purpose for the guide is to assist the non-Christian or new believer who might be exploring the Christian faith by reading secondary sources (the Bible is still the very best one) in order to flesh out its basic doctrines. Mere Christianity is not a difficult book. For example, it’s a far easier (and enjoyable) read than, say, Thoreau’s Walden. But like the 19th century classic, it deserves to be read slowly, to be pondered and reflected upon. If, after reading Mere Christianity, you have any questions about the Christian faith, go back to the www.scholia.net website for more information. Ask Pastor McCoy. He’d love to hear from you. He’ll do his best to get back to you as soon as practicable with an answer you can use. May our LORD bless you in your study. Mere Christianity Focus Guide BOOK I: RIGHT AND WRONG AS A CLUE TO THE MEANING OF THE UNIVERSE. I. The Law of Human Nature. Lewis discusses how humans typically appeal to a standard that everyone seems to know about when disputes arise. How does Lewis define quarreling? Do people in a quarrel need to be in agreement about something? What? Why? What did the Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called? Why was it called that? According to Lewis, what did ancient Egypt, Babylon, India, China, Greece, and Rome have in common with our civilization? What might a totally different morality mean to the West? According to Lewis, when people assert they don’t believe in a Real Right or Wrong, what can we expect them to do within a short time? On those occasions people (we) do not keep the Moral Law, what kinds of excuses can we expect to hear from them (us)? What do their (our) excuses tend to prove? For Lewis, what two facts comprise the foundation of all clear thinking about humankind and our universe? II. Some Objections. Lewis discusses two general objections he received from his radio listeners about his teaching on the Moral Law (also known as the Law of Human Nature or the Law of Decent Behavior). To Lewis, the Moral Law is not simply the result of a “herd” or human instinct, why? Using a musical analogy, how does Lewis describe the workings of the Moral Law? Are there any impulses or instincts we possess that the Moral Law brands good or bad? Is there any instinct we possess which could or should be set up as an absolute guide? Why or why not? If the Moral Law is not instinct, isn’t it simply social convention? According to Lewis, why or why not? How does Lewis argue against the idea that the Moral Law is simply a matter of how we are brought up or educated? If, for example, we say that Christian morality is superior to the morality of the Taliban, what are we doing? (Thinking out loud): Do you think that declaring one morality as superior to another is something we have the authority or right to do? Where might this authority or right come from? What does Lewis have to say about differences of morality and differences in our belief about facts? III. The reality of the Law. Lewis asserts that the Moral Law is a real thing, even if not in an ordinary sense. According to Lewis, what are two odd things about the human race? Does Paul make a similar point in Romans 1: 18-32? What does Lewis see as a key difference between the Law of Human Nature (Moral Law) and the Laws of Nature (i.e., stones falling when we throw them)? How does this dichotomy square with Romans 7: 7- 20? Is decent behavior simply some kind of behavior that is useful to us? Is the Law of Human Nature real? How so? IV. What Lies Behind the Law. Lewis briefly outlines the Materialist, Religious, and Life-Force (or Creative or Emergent Evolution) philosophical views on how the universe came into being, and, accordingly, what lies behind the Moral Law. What is the Materialist view of creation? What is the Religious view of creation? Can we expect science to ever tell us which view is correct? Why or why not? To Lewis, is the “Something Behind” investigation even a scientific question? From Lewis’ point of view in the first half of the Twentieth Century, what was the one thing in the universe that we knew more about than anything else? What argument does Lewis make in favor of the concept that there is something greater operating this universe that science will never be able to detect? When Lewis opened the “packet” called Man, what did he discover about himself? Why does Lewis call the Life-Force a sort of tame God? V. We Have Cause to Be Uneasy. Lewis sets forth three arguments about why Christianity should make sense in view of the demands of the Moral Law. The first argument set forth by Lewis is because humanity is on the wrong road. Do you think we are? What would you point to as evidence of your belief? Can progress be made while on the wrong road? If the creation of the universe amounts to our only evidence of God’s existence, should we expect to find Him to be a great artist or merciless? Do we find out anything more about God from the Moral Law? How so? What does the Moral Law tell us about God’s softness, indulgence, or sympathetic nature? Lewis’ second argument is that although we need God, we have made ourselves enemies of Him. What does Genesis 3 have to say about this problem? If there is simply an impersonal force behind the creation of the universe and the Moral Law, is there any point in asking it to let us off when we foul up? If simply an impersonal absolute goodness exists, how would it view what we do? Lewis’ third argument is that when we finally come to the realization that there is a real Moral Law and a Power behind it, and then come to the further realization that we are at odds with both that law and Power, at that point Christianity starts to communicate. Will Christianity typically make any sense to the non-believer before that point? What Good News can knowledgeable Christians give the person who has a sudden need of forgiveness? Do you agree or disagree with this statement: The Christian religion is a religion of comfort? What are your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing? Mere Christianity Focus Guide BOOK II: WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE As you read through Book II, answer the following questions. I. The Rival Conceptions of God. In this chapter, Lewis discusses how humanity is divided into its various beliefs – or disbelief – about God. What information does Lewis give us at the beginning of the chapter about what Christians don’t need to believe? How does Lewis divide humanity in its belief about God? What division does Lewis name as the majority? Do you think Lewis would be correct if he made the same division today? Do you agree with Lewis that even the “queerest” religions contain some hint of truth? (If you answered in the affirmative, defend your answer.) What must atheists believe about all religions? How does Lewis further divide those who believe in God? What does Pantheism espouse in relation to goodness and God? What do Christianity, Judaism, and Mohammedanism (Islam) have in common? What does Pantheism espouse about the universe and God? To Pantheists, what is the tie between God and the universe? How do Christians view God and the universe? Why do you think Lewis calls Christianity a “fighting” religion? What did Lewis come to realize about his pre-conversion argument that God did not exist because the “universe seemed so cruel and unjust”? II. The Invasion. In this chapter, Lewis discusses how Christianity is not as simple as some would have us believe. What does Lewis call the view that holds we have a good God in heaven and all is right? For Lewis, what is wrong with such a view of Christianity? According to Lewis, who props up a kind of Christianity suitable for six year olds, then attacks it? What is characteristic about those who argue that if God existed, He would have made religion simple? How does Lewis view reality? How does Lewis describe the Christian view of the universe and the operation of good and evil? What is the term Lewis gives us that explains the other view of good and evil? What does this non-Christian view hold about the universe? How does Lewis destroy the non-Christian notion that the Good Power and the Bad Power are the ultimate powers? How does Lewis define wickedness? How does Lewis come to the conclusion that the Bad Power is a part of the Good Power’s world? According to Lewis, what enables evil to carry on? How might this apply to the men who hijacked the airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? What surprised Lewis when he first seriously read the New Testament? How do Christianity and Dualism agree, in Lewis’ view? How do they differ? What are the “Christian soldiers” called to do? III. The Shocking Alternative. In this chapter, Lewis discusses his view of free will, how Satan came to be Satan, and why Jesus is not a great moral teacher. According to Lewis, how do Christians currently view the evil power in this world? What concept does Lewis have of free will? In Lewis’ view, what makes evil possible? What else does it make possible? What is Lewis’ theory of why God gave humans free will? How does Lewis describe the happiness God has designed for His “higher creatures”? In the Chief Articles of Faith (from the Latin version) of The Augsburg Confession, contained in The Book of Concord, it states in Article XVIII (Free Will), “Our churches teach that man’s will has some liberty for the attainment of civil righteousness and for the choice of things subject to reason. However, it does not have the power, without the Holy Spirit, to attain the righteousness of God – that is, spiritual righteousness – because natural man does not perceive the gifts of the Spirit of God (I Cor. 2:14); but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Spirit is received through the Word.” Do you read Lewis as making the same distinction? Why or why not? What did Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors? In Lewis’ view, what did God design humankind to run on? What does Lewis see as the “key” to history? What did God do to counter Satan? What is the most shocking thing uttered by human lips, and who said it? In Lewis’ view, what is the one thing we must not say about Jesus? Why? IV. The Perfect Penitent. In this chapter, Lewis discusses his theory on the Atonement of Christ. In reading the New Testament, what seems to be the chief mission of Christ in coming to earth in human form? If the central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow made us right with God, in Lewis’ view, is there a single or unifying theory on how this works? What distinction, if any, does Lewis make between theory and belief when it comes to the death and resurrection of our Lord? What does Lewis see as the “formula” of Christianity? If the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior is a divine concept, can we really grasp it as human beings? Is it rational to have an innocent person take the blame for the guilty? What is the conundrum set up by Lewis over good people and bad people when it comes to repentance? In the Chief Articles of Faith found in the Augsburg Confession contained within the Book of Concord, we find in Article XII (Repentance) among other things, “… Properly speaking, repentance consists of these two parts: one is contrition, that is, terror smiting the conscience with a knowledge of sin, and the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, believes [sic] that sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terror. Then good works, which are the fruit of repentance, are bound to follow. …” Is this how Lewis sees repentance? How do humans repent, in Lewis’ view, since we are unable to do it on our own? To Lewis’ way of thinking, why did God need to become a man? Do you think it was easy or hard for Jesus to suffer and die? What scriptural support can you find on this subject? V. The Practical Conclusion. In this chapter, Lewis discusses the Christ-life. In order to share in Christ’s conquest of death and to find a new life, what must we do? A new kind of what has appeared, thanks to Christ? What are the three things that spread the Christ-life to us? Why does Lewis accept so readily these three things? How does Lewis define believing things on authority? Where does our natural life come from? Why do non-Christians try to be good? How is it that Christians are good? According to Lewis, why does God use material things like bread and wine to put the Christ-life in us? What does Lewis have to say about those outside the Body of Christ with regard to their salvation? What does Lewis have to say about God’s “invasion”? Mere Christianity Focus Guide BOOK III: CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR [American spelling is used throughout this guide.] As you read through Book III, answer the following questions. I. THE THREE PARTS OF MORALITY. Lewis puts forth three areas morality is concerned with. To many people, what does “morality” mean? How does Lewis see moral rules? Why is it dangerous, for society’s sake, to describe a man who tries hard to keep the moral law as a “man of high ideals”? What are the two ways the “human machine” goes wrong? With what three things is morality concerned? Does Law make people good? What does it take to create a “good society”? (Thinking out loud): Can Law make a good society? Among the three departments of morality as designated by Lewis, which department highlights the main differences between Christian and non-Christian brands of morality? II. THE “CARDINAL VIRTUES”. Lewis discusses four pivotal quail- ties that all people should have for a good society. What are the four cardinal virtues? How are the cardinal virtues differentiated from the three theological virtues? What virtue deals with practical common sense? What virtue deals with going only the right length and no further when it comes to pleasurable things? What virtue deals with fairness, honesty, give and take, truthfulness, and keeping promises? What virtue deals with “guts”? Do the virtues encompass particular actions or particular qualities? What three wrong ideas can be encouraged if we miss the actions versus qualities distinction? III. SOCIAL MORALITY. Lewis gives his view of what a Christian society might look like. When it comes to Christian morality in the “man to man” arena, did Christ come to preach a brand new morality? How might one tell the difference between a great moral teacher and a quack or a crank? According to Lewis, what is the real job of every moral teacher? Why doesn’t Christianity have a detailed “political program” for applying the Golden Rule? What might a fully Christian society look like? What does Lewis think about lending money at interest? What do you think about it? Why must we work? What is Lewis’ rule for giving to charity? What are two common obstacles to our charitable giving? According to Lewis, what needs to happen before a Christian society arrives? IV. MORALITY AND PSYCHOANALYSIS. Lewis’s view of what the Christian idea of a good man is. In what subject did Lewis find Freud to be ignorant? According to Lewis, what two things are involved in making a moral choice? In Lewis’ view, what does psychoanalysis undertake to do with regard to the “raw material” of choices? What is the “raw material” of choices? According to Lewis, how do God and humans differ in the way they judge? Does this square with Mt. 5: 21-48? When it comes to “raw material” issues, should we be judging at all? Compare Mt. 7:1,2 with 1 Cor. 5: 12,13. What is Lewis’ view of Christians judging? What does Lewis see happening to our psychological makeup when our bodies die? What does Lewis see happening to our “central part” over a lifetime of innumerable choices? If good people know about both good and evil, what do bad people know about? V. SEXUAL MORALITY. Lewis discusses the virtue of chastity. With what social rule is chastity often confused? How do these two rules differ? If we commit indecent acts in a defiant way, for example, to shock or embarrass others, how would Lewis describe our conduct? How does Lewis describe the Christian virtue of chastity? Do our instincts agree with the rule? When modern people (so-called) say, “Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,” what two things are they saying? Are they right or are they wrong? What three reasons does Lewis give for the difficulty in achieving complete chastity – or even desiring it? What does Lewis claim the worst pleasures to be? VI. CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE. Lewis expounds on the significance of males and females becoming one flesh within a Christian context. Why didn’t Lewis want to deal with the topic of Christian marriage? What is the idea of Christian marriage based upon? Christianity teaches that marriage is for how long? If modernity says that divorce is okay, indeed desired, when married partners “fall out of love” or when one or both “fall in love” with another, what do the Christian virtues of chastity and justice have to say in response? How does Lewis differentiate between being “in love” in a new marriage or relationship with possessing the “love” of a long-term marriage? Do you agree with Lewis that there should be two distinct kinds of marriages: one governed by the state, with its rules applied to all citizens, and the other governed by the church, with its peculiar rules applied only to its members? Why? Read I Cor 7; 11: 3-16; Eph 5:22-33; Col 3: 18,19; I Pet 3:1-7. Is there any confusion over who serves as the “tie breaker,” when a husband and wife cannot agree? Is there any confusion over how the husband is to treat his wife? Does the post-modern world understand this ingeniously simple plan? What does Lewis say about the “headship” of the man in a marriage? (Thinking out loud) John and Jane are married and have three minor children. John is self-indulgent with his earnings, while Jane, a “stay at home” mom, could have been the model for the wife in Proverbs 31. John wants to buy a new fishing boat, but Jane wants to make an extra and substantial contribution to the church building fund for a seriously needed new roof. Unfortunately, their finances won’t allow them to do both. After weeks of discussing the issue, John and Jane conclude there is no way they can agree. Who should win? Why? VII. FORGIVENESS. Lewis discusses the “terrible” duties of forgiving and loving our enemies. By Lewis’ reckoning, what virtue may be even more unpopular than chastity? If the Divine standard holds that we are forgiven in the same manner we forgive (thus eliminating any double standard), doesn’t that make Christianity a hard religion? What does Lewis suggest to make the forgiveness formula easier to accept. What is the best example we have for how to “hate the sin, but not the sinner”? Is it ever appropriate for Christians to hate? Under what circumstances? What does Lewis think about pacifism? Semi-pacifism? In Lewis’ view, if Christians are permitted to punish or kill an enemy, how are they supposed to feel about it? How does Lewis explain the dynamic of learning to love people who have nothing lovable about them? VIII. THE GREAT SIN. Lewis describes the sin each of us is guilty of and one that each of us loathes when we see it in someone else. What is the great sin named by Lewis? What is the virtue opposite it? What makes the great sin so great? Read Ps 10:4; Pr 8:13; 29:23. Now compare Mt. 5:3. Lewis says that the great sin leads to something. What? Do you think he is right or do you think he is exaggerating? Now compare 1 Cor 8:1,2 with Gen 2:15-17. If you thought he was exaggerating, do you still? If the great sin gets no pleasure out of having something, how does it get its pleasure? What does the great sin really enjoy? As long as we are operating in the great sin, we will not know …? As far as Lewis is concerned, what do the people worship who are eaten up by this great sin, though professing to be believers and religious? Compare Mt. 7:21-23. What test does Lewis suggest for being in the real presence of God? In Lewis’ view, how does the great sin differ from the other vices? Lewis brilliantly exposes how Satan can use the great sin to beat down the other vices. How does he put it? What are the four possible misunderstandings about the great sin that Lewis seeks to clarify? What is the first step to overcoming the great sin and acquiring humility? IX. CHARITY. Lewis expounds upon one of the Theological virtues, calling it love in a Christian sense. If love in a Christian sense is not an emotion, what is it? How concerned should we be about liking some people, but not others? How can our liking people conflict with our charity towards them? Do you find this ironic? Should we be concerned if we have a “cold” temperament? If we behave as though we love someone, what should we discover? Why are the little decisions we make each day of such infinite importance? Why is God’s love for us a safer subject to ponder than our love for Him? X. HOPE. Lewis expounds upon a second Theological virtue, which Christians are meant to do. Have you ever heard this: “He’s so heavenly minded, he’s no earthly good”? Lewis seems to think the opposite. Why is that? Why does Lewis think most people find it difficult to want heaven? What are the three ways, recognized by Lewis, of dealing with the desires that cannot be had in this world? Which is the only right way of dealing with this? What does Lewis have to say about those facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of heaven some ridiculous side show? XI. FAITH. Lewis treats Faith on two levels, first as a noun, then as a verb. How does Lewis define Faith in the first sense? Why was Lewis puzzled that Christians think of Faith as a virtue in this sense? Why did Lewis take the position that one must train the habit of Faith? How do moods get involved with one’s Faith? Luther held that the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer were the most necessary parts of Christian instruction, and should be recited every day, especially by children. To Luther, these recitations contained the main doctrines of Christianity. What does Lewis have to say about main doctrines of Christianity being held before Christians’ minds every day? Why should Christians be reminded every day of what they believe? Isn’t it obvious? Turning to Faith in the second or higher sense, what does Lewis claim we must practice every day? What do we learn? What idea does real Christianity blow to bits? XII. FAITH. Lewis continues his discussion of Faith in the second or higher sense. How does “walking the Christian walk”, that is, making a best effort at practicing its virtues, make us discover our bankruptcy? According to Lewis, does God care about our actions? If not exactly, what does He care about? Trying harder and harder to keep God’s Law leads only to failure after failure. At some point we reach a vital moment. What is that moment? What does “leave it to God,” mean for Lewis? Lutherans, since Luther, have condemned the notion that good works are necessary for salvation. Does Lewis have a similar view? How does he explain it? Concomitant with the condemnation of salvation by good works, Lutherans, since Luther, have also taught that there can be no genuine saving faith without contrition and repentance. What concern does Lewis express about the perversion of the “faith alone” doctrine? Mere Christianity Focus Guide BOOK IV: BEYOND PERSONALITY: OR FIRST STEPS IN THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY As you read Book IV, answer the following questions. I. Making and Begetting. Lewis discusses how life reflects God, however imperfectly. What does “theology” mean? What position did Lewis take about theology and his readers? From Lewis’ point of view, how is theology like a map? From a practical standpoint, how did Lewis regard theology? What did Lewis understand the popular idea of Christianity to be in his day? Was that view necessarily wrong? Does that view tell us all we need to know about Christianity? Explain. What kind of a difference in the world should we expect the popularized notion of Christianity to make? Why? What difficult doctrines did Lewis find in real Christian writings? What Christian doctrine seems to be the most shocking, at least to Lewis? What is the distinction between begetting and making? How does this distinction relate to Christ and God? Therefore, if the Nicene Creed tells us that Christ is “begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father,” what does that mean? But if Christ is the only begotten Son of God, how can we become sons of God? What are Bios and Zoe? How do we go from Bios to Zoe? Do you think Lewis had Pinocchio in mind when he wrote this chapter? II. The Three-Personal God. Lewis discusses as best as any human can, how God operates in our lives and how difficult it is to describe Him. What does Lewis see as the whole purpose for which we exist? In laying the foundation for the life-of-God dynamic, Lewis uses the analogy of one, two, and three dimensions. How did Lewis put it? How does Lewis use a cube as an analogy for three Persons in One? Is there any good in simply talking about a three-personal Being? What does matter with regard to this Being? What is the dynamic explained by Lewis when a Christian kneels down beside her bed to pray? How did Christians arrive at the definition of a three-personal God? When it comes to knowing God, where is the initiative? What is the only adequate instrument for learning about God? How so? III. Time and Beyond Time. Lewis discusses God in relation to Time. What is a common objection encountered by Lewis about the idea of several million humans praying to God at the same moment in time? How does Lewis describe every moment from the beginning of the world in relation to God? How does Lewis describe God’s attention towards each of us? How did Lewis overcome his difficulty in conceptualizing God becoming a man (baby) and still being able to run the universe? (Thinking out loud) Does Lewis’ explanation show insight or a lack of understanding about the true nature of our Triune God? IV. Good Infection. Lewis discusses the Persons of God. When Lewis earlier used the cube as an example of how the Persons of God are interconnected, he acknowledged that certain words make the analogy fail. What are those words? Where does the analogy break down? How does Lewis describe the relationship of the Father and the Son in relation to our Time-series universe? Where can we get the most accurate description of the relationship between the Father and the Son? How is it that “God is love” has no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons? What does Lewis describe as perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions? How does Lewis account for the Third Person of God? Lutherans, since Luther, have taught, confessed, and believed that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Triune God, and true God with the Father and the Son. Does Lewis agree? Is there anything about Lewis’ description of the Holy Spirit that makes you uncomfortable? What is the “good infection” described by Lewis? V. The Obstinate Toy Soldiers. Through a loose analogy of a tin soldier coming to life, Lewis describes how God became a man so that men can become sons of God. How does Lewis describe the present state of things in regards to the two kinds of life (Zoe, Bios)? Obviously, Jesus was not Everyman, but how did He satisfy what all men were intended to be? What did Jesus’ earthly “career” entail? How does Lewis describe humanity spread out in time as God sees it? How does a tin soldier coming alive differ from God becoming a man, then dying, and then resurrecting? VI. Two Notes. Lewis clarifies two points about his tin soldier analogy. He answers a critic who wanted to know why God didn’t simply beget sons if He wanted sons, instead of making toy soldiers who are then left to become sons the hard way. His second point of clarification deals with the notion that our differences do, indeed, matter. What is the easy part of the two-part answer to the critic of the tin soldier analogy? What is the hard part of the answer? What does Lewis have to say about “the Father begetting many sons from all eternity”? How does Lewis describe Christianity’s way of thinking about human individuals? Our differences and our likenesses seem to cause problems in how we approach each other. If we forget that those around us belong to the same organism as we do, what should we expect to become? But if we want to make all people alike, what should we expect to become? Should we be either one? Why or why not? VI. Let’s Pretend. Lewis discusses how Christians must “pretend” to be like Christ. How does Lewis answer his own question about the value of pretending what we are not? Is Lewis suggesting that Christians are required to be phony? How would you respond to a Christian who said he had never had the sense of being helped by an invisible Christ, but had often been helped by other people? As we continue to pretend to be sons of God, and as Christ continues to kill the old Adam in us, replacing him with the kind of self He possesses, what two discoveries should we be making? Does God “pretend” when He sees us? How? VIII. Is Christianity Hard or Easy? In answering the question, Lewis discusses how the whole of Christianity is “putting on Christ” so that we might become true children of God. Lewis also makes it clear he is not simply talking about common notions of “morality” or “being good.” Describe the non-Christian (and, perhaps, the immature Christian) view of morality. What two likely results can be expected from this view? How is the Christian way different? What is Christ’s intent with a Christian’s natural self? What is an almost impossible thing for a Christian to give Christ? What does Christ have to say about keeping personal happiness as our aim in life while remaining “good”? According to Lewis, when does the real problem of the Christian life come each day? Luther’s solution to shoving the “natural self’s” wishes and desires back in order to let what Lewis calls the “other, stronger, quieter life” to come flowing in, was to recite a heart-felt morning prayer upon awakening that looked something like this: I thank You, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, for keeping me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You also keep me this day from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen. What value, if any, do you see in reciting such a prayer immediately upon awakening? Explain. If our secular government exists to promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for the individual (and it does), what is the function of the Church? What is the sole reason God invented humans? IX. Counting the Cost. Lewis discusses what it means when Christ commands His followers to “be perfect,” and the cost of getting there. For Lewis, how is Christ like the dentist he hated to visit as a child? Should we be discouraged in God’s demand for perfection? Why or why not? What does Lewis have to say about Christians being subjected to a “rough time”? Explain how Christ’s command to Be ye perfect is not a bunch of idealistic gas. X. Nice People or New Men. Lewis tackles a thorny question. Why, if Christianity is supposed to be true, aren’t all Christians obviously nicer than non- Christians? What is Lewis’ concern about Christians behaving badly in full view of an unbelieving world? What is the illogic observed by Lewis for unbelievers who demand to see all Christians being obviously nicer than non-Christians before they believe in the truth of Christianity? What value does Lewis see in comparing imaginary Christians with imaginary non-Christians? In Lewis’ view, what is the relevance of Christian A being a gossip when unbeliever B is not? Nature and nurture produce a certain temperament in each of us. What does Christianity profess to do with each of our temperaments? If an unbeliever is a really nice person, what has that cost God? What did it cost God to convert rebellious wills into obedient ones? Why does Lewis warn “nice people” to beware? Why might it be easier for nasty people to believe in the atoning sacrifice of Christ than nice people? XI. The New Men. In his last chapter, Lewis uses an unfortunate analogy to evolution to describe the Transformation – the Next Step – changing from being creatures of God to being children of God. Is the Transformation from creature to child a part of any naturalistic, evolutionary process? How does it occur? Explain how God’s family is composed of volunteers as opposed to conscripts. For weeks after the 9/11 Attack, print and electronic media attempted to explain why they [i.e., radical, fundamentalist Muslims] hate us. According to Lewis, what members or movements in the “outer world” throughout the history of the Church have hated it? And what did they think was happening to the Church? What happened each time? How might we recognize the so-called “new men”? What does “becoming a new man” entail? How does Lewis’ analogy comparing salt to Christ fail in attempting to describe why all “new men” aren’t the same? According to Lewis, when is it that we first begin to have a real personality of our own? What is the first step in acquiring your “real” self? Why? If we look to ourselves, what can we expect? If we look to Christ, what can we expect? How has reading Mere Christianity changed your view of Christianity?
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