The Eagle and Child: S1E12 – “The Practical Conclusion”

Baptism

Baptism

We now come to the final chapter of Book II! In this chapter, C.S. Lewis draws to a conclusion “What Christians believe”. In previous chapters, Jack has explained that we receive New Life from Christ. In this final chapter he looks at how it is communicated to us. He principally focuses on belief, Baptism and Holy Communion.

If you enjoy this episode, you can subscribe manually, or any place where good podcasts can be found (iTunesGoogle PlayPodbeanStitcher and TuneIn). Please send any objections, comments or questions, either via email through my website or tweet us @pintswithjack.

Episode 12: “The Practical Conclusion” (Download)

 

— Show Notes —

• My outline for this chapter is available here. Once again, unfortunately there’s no Doodle 🙁

• Once again, Matt and I are drinking Ballast Point Bonito.

• The card game Matt taught me the day before was Euchre. It’s kinda weird…

• Lewis says that the next step in evolution has already happened with Christ. Matt referenced the podcast Intelligence Squared, where Yuval Noah Harari spoke about “Homo Deus“. In response to this, we quoted the Early Church Father, St. Athanasius, who said that “God became man so that man could become God”. This provocative phrase speaks of what is known as “Theosis”. Scripturally, this takes its foundation from 2 Peter 1:4 where we are told that “…He has granted to us his precious and very great promises…and become partakers of the divine nature”.

• How do we acquire this New Life? Lewis compares it to the Natural Life, which we acquired through a curious process that we might not have expected. So too, he says, it is with the New Life.

• Matt and I have brief conversation about my belief in The Stork and the statue which is on top of Sharp Mary Birch Hospital. I also commented that in England, in answer to the question “Where do babies come from?”, we often told that they are found underneath gooseberry bushes!

• Jack identifies the three main ways in which this Divine Life is passed on: belief, Baptism and Holy Communion. However, he doesn’t limit it to these channels. God’s grace can move in extraordinary ways. He also says that these aren’t substitutes for our attempts to copy Christ.

• On what basis do we believe that the Divine Life is transmitted like this? Simply put, on the authority of Jesus. Authority is not a scary word, it simply beens believing something because someone whom you think trustworthy has told you that it is true. Much of by beliefs about science and history are based almost entirely on authority.

• Matt and I take a short detour to discuss how Jesus passed on His authority to the Church.

• Lewis describes how this Divine Life should be protected, essentially addressing the doctrine of Once-Saved-Always-Saved. If you would like to see a really great debate on this subject, I’d recommend checking out the one between James White and Trent Horn.

Lewis isn’t suggesting a form of Pelagianism. He says that the Divine Life is a gift, but it must be protected. Even the best Christian who ever lived knows that he’s only nourishing a life that he could have never have won on his own merits.

I describe this idea in terms of mortal sin, which quenches the Divine Life within us (1 John 5:17). Lewis says that when a living body is hurt, it can to a degree repair itself. I suggest that this nicely maps to venial sin.

• God does not love us because we are good, God will make us good because He loves us!

• The New Life which comes from Christ is expressed through the whole Body of Christ.  In a recent episode of The Restless Heart, I recorded a more personal episode where I spoke about this idea, how I met Christ in the death of my father.

• Some people might find the idea of God communicating His grace to us through physical means (such as Baptism and Holy Communication) rather crude, but as Jack points out, God likes matter – He invented it!

• The chapter closes by considering two objections.

1. Isn’t it unfair that the Divine Life is only given to those who have heard of Christ? 

Lewis points out that we haven’t been told too much about God’s plan for those who have never heard the Gospel. He affirms that all who are saved will be saved through Jesus, but questions whether it’s only those who know Him who will be saved through Him. Matt and I briefly discuss the Catholic perspective on this topic.

Lewis concludes by saying that the best thing you can do for others is to become a Christian yourself and help transmit that Divine Life to others.

2. Why did God invade in this way? Why doesn’t He invade in force?

Lewis answers that Christians believe He will invade in force at the Second Coming, but that he is probably giving us a chance to join His side freely.

The Eagle and Child: S1E11 – “The Perfect Penitent”

crucified5

crucified5

Welcome to the penultimate chapter in Book II! In this episode we look at Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. How did it save us? How have different Christians tried to explain it? Do we need to understand the mechanics of how it works in order to be saved? These questions and more will be discussed on this episode of “The Eagle and Child”, so pull up a chair and raise your glass. Cheers!

If you enjoy this episode, you can subscribe manually, or through a service like iTunesGoogle PlayPodbeanStitcher and TuneIn. As always, if you have any objections, comments or questions, please send us an email through my website or tweet us @pintswithjack.

Episode 11: “The Perfect Penitent” (Download)

 

— Show Notes —

• My outline for this chapter is available here. Unfortunately, no Doodle this week!

• This episode attempts to answer two questions:

1. Why did God become man?
Matt describes this in terms of “invading enemy-occupied territory”, which is language used by Lewis in the next chapter, Chapter 5: “The practical Conclusion.

2. What did the death and resurrection of Jesus do for us?

• Today we were drinking Ballast Point Bonito. If this beer is unacceptable to you, please tweet us @pintswithjack with recommendations…or better yet, send us beer!

• Why did Jesus come 2,000 years ago? Many people would say that He came to earth to teach but, as Jack points out, the New Testament seems to focus on His death and resurrection, suggesting that this was the central point of Jesus’ mission.

• The reality of the atonement and the theories of atonement are not the same thing. The former is Christianity, the latter is simply an attempt to explain how it works.

• Matt read the following two passages from the New Testament describing Jesus’ sacrifice:

“For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself”
– 2 Corinthians 5:19

“Because in Him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell; and through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.”
– Colossians 1:19-20

• Lewis uses the analogy of food. People ate food long before the explanation of vitamins was developed. If that explanation of nourishment is one day abandoned, we will go on eating our meals all the same. Matt mispronounces “vitamins”, but fortunately, I was around to correct him.

• Jack looks at the theory of Substitutionary Atonement, but here are some different theories of the atonement:

Ransom to Satan
Recapitulation Theory
Dramatic Theory
Mystical Theory
Moral Influence Theory
Example Theory
Commercial Theory
Governmental Theory

• I mention Penal Substitution Theory and offer a brief comment on one of the problems I see with this theory. For a more thorough analysis, I’d recommend this article from Joe Heschmeyer of Shameless Popery.

• Jack explains that the “Church of Rome goes a bit further” when it comes to explaining the Atonement. I suggest that what he means by this is that the Catholic Church says that some theories are not congruent with Catholic theology.

• Lewis puts forward some issues with the idea that Jesus took a punishment in our place. If God could have just let us off, why didn’t he? He then goes on to explain that if we think of our “debt” in terms of money rather than punishment, it makes more sense.

• Although the Catholic Church doesn’t put forward an official theory of the atonement, whereas the Reformed tradition speaks of the Father punishing Jesus, Catholic explanations place emphasis on the value of Christ’s sacrifice offered to the Father.

Atonment

• What is this “debt” we owe? Lewis explains that it is the fruit of our rebellion against God. In order to end this rebellion, we need to repent.

• Jack explains that repentance isn’t something which God demands of us which he could simply wave. Rather, repentance is simply the description of what going back to God is like. Therefore, it’s not optional!

• Only a bad person needs to repent, but because he’s bad, repentance is difficult. The person who could repent perfectly wouldn’t need to repent.

• I mention that I’m an “Eastern Catholic”. If you would like to know more about the Eastern Churches, I have an article I wrote after visiting the church which would eventually become my home parish.

• Lewis explains that God helps us to love by putting a little bit of his love in us. The idea of participating in the life of God is most clearly articulated by 2 Peter 1:4 where he speaks about participating in the Divine Nature. If God helping us is God putting a little bit of Himself in us, then what do we do when we need to repent? This is not something God does! That is, unless He became man…hence, the Incarnation.

• When speaking about the mind-boggling nature of the Incarnation, of God becoming man. To drive this point home, I quote the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom which describes God as “the ineffable, the inconceivable, the incomprehensible”. I mention going to Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park where I went on Sundays in London to listen to people debate. The Muslims I met really grasped the audacious, breathtaking claims of Christians concerning the Incarnation.

• When speaking about the incarnation, I paraphrased a line found among the Early Church Fathers and best expressed by St. Gregory:

“For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved”
– St. Gregory of Nazianzus

• Pelagianism says, essentially, that we can save ourselves, “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps”, so to speak. This heresy was condemned by the Catholic Church in the 5th Century. In contrast to this, I quote Romans 5:8 which says “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”.

• Didn’t Jesus have an unfair advantage in being God? Firstly, the Gospel accounts don’t make it sound easy. I mentioned Hematidrosis, which is the condition where one sweats blood due to stress, described in Luke 22:44. Even if it was, that isn’t a good reason to reject that help! Jack makes the point that it was, in fact, only possible because He was God! Jack uses the analogies of learning to write or someone pulling you ashore.

• Matt references a book by Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son.

• I’d encourage all the listeners to check out Essential C.S. Lewis and the All About Jack podcast from William O’Flaherty. In particular, I’d recommend the episode with Peter S. Williams talking about his book, C.S. Lewis vs the New Atheists where he looks at The Problem of Goodness, which draws on the material we covered in Book I concerning the Moral Law.

The Eagle and Child: S1E10 – “The Shocking Alternative”

SonOfGod

SonOfGod

Does the presence of evil in the world mean that God wills it? This and several other very important questions will be tackled by C.S. Lewis in today’s episode. Jack looks at humanity’s attempt to be happy with “something other than God”, as well as God’s initiatives to call mankind back to Himself.

If you enjoy this episode, you can subscribe manually, or through a service like iTunesGoogle PlayPodbeanStitcher and TuneIn. As always, if you have any objections, comments or questions, please send us an email through my website or tweet us @pintswithjack.

Episode 10: “The Shocking Alternative” (Download)

 

— Show Notes —

• My outline for this chapter is available here and there is a C.S. Lewis Doodle available this week!

• This episode we were finishing off our bottles of Shock Top.

• How is it that evil is present in the world? Surely either God wills it or he is not all-powerful? Well, Jack says that anyone who has held a position of authority over others will see the resolution of this dilemma. As soon as you make something optional, you open the door to the possibility that nobody will do that optional task.

• Lewis says he can’t imagine a creature which had free will but who also had no possibility of going wrong. Both Matt and I agree.

• Free will is the only thing which makes love possible. Was this trade-off worth it? Jack thinks so and, more importantly, so did God!

• “Every Christian wants to serve God, it’s just that most only want to serve Him in an advisory capacity”

• Did God mess up making us, given our tremendous capacity for evil? Lewis makes the point that the greater something is, the greater its capacity for good and evil.

• What caused Satan to go wrong? Jack suggests that he tried to put himself ahead of  God. This is what he taught humanity to do as well and it has been the source of much of the suffering in the world.

• I mentioned Jennifer Fulweiler‘s book, Something other than God, which details her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. Matt casually said that he hung out with her at a Notre Dame football game a few weeks ago…but then abandoned her to go tailgating! #BadMatt He is clearly trying to one-up me after I (very humbly) mentioned in our episodes on the Preface that I had met the Preacher to the Papal Household, Raniero Cantalamessa.

• The happiness God intends for us is inseparable from God Himself. It is like trying to get a car to run on something other than gas/petrol. St. Augustine of Hippo wrote in his Confessions: “You made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts will wander restless until we rest in You”. This is also the sign-off used in my other podcast, The Restless Heart.

• What has been God’s response to our attempts to alienate ourselves from Him?

1. He gave us conscience

2. He sent us “good dreams”, stories scattered throughout other religions which speak of a god dying and coming back to life in some way, preparing us for and pointing us towards Jesus.

3. He chose and formed Israel, who was called to point the other nations towards God and to welcome the Messiah when He came.

4.  Jesus.

• It’s popular to say that Jesus never claimed divinity. Lewis shows that this isn’t reasonable, particularly given what Jesus said and did within the framework of monotheistic Judaism. Jack notes one often-overlooked aspect of Jesus’ ministry – He claimed to forgive sins as though He was the one chiefly offended by the sin. I compared this to Psalm 50/51 where David speaks of his sin against Bathsheba and her husband:

“Against thee [God], thee only, have I sinned,
    and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
    and blameless in thy judgment” – Psalm 51:4

• Matt reminded us that when someone sins against us, we should really desire their reconciliation with God even more than reconciliation with ourselves.

• It’s also popular these days to reduce Jesus to a just a great moral teacher. However, Lewis points out that this is not a viable option. He then presents one of his most famous arguments, the trilemma. Jesus is either liar, lunatic or Lord.

The Eagle and Child: S1E9 – “The Invasion”

Dualism

Dualism

In today’s episode, we continue working our way through Book II of “Mere Christianity”. In the previous chapter, C.S. Lewis had examined “Rival Conceptions of God”, especially pantheism. In today’s episode he looks at another possible contender, dualism, the idea that there are two independent and opposing powers locked together in an eternal battle…

If you enjoy this episode, you can subscribe manually, or through a service like iTunesGoogle Play or Podbean. As always, if you have any objections, comments or questions, please send us an email through my website or tweet us @pintswithjack.

Episode 9: “The Invasion” (Download)

 

— Show Notes —

• My outline for this chapter is available here. Unfortunately, there’s no C.S. Lewis Doodle this week 🙁

• In the previous chapter, Jack said that atheism was “too simple”. When he was an atheist, his case against God was that the universe was unjust…but without God it wasn’t possible to make such an argument!

• In this chapter, Jack says that another worldview is also “too simple”. He refers to it as “Christianity and Water”, which I think today we’d just call “watered-down Christianity”. Matt and I suggested that this worldview is attractive for the same reason as “Creative Evolution” which was mentioned in an earlier episode – it offers some sense of meaning and comfort, without the demands of the Christian life.

• Religion isn’t a hobby. Religion is reality.

• Matt refers to another C.S. Lewis book, The Weight of Glory.

• Simple things are not always simple when you really dig into them. Lewis gives the examples of “looking at a table” or the configuration of the planets. He says, therefore, that the very fact that Christianity is not what we might have expected is actually a motive of credibility! Real things are complicated!

• In response to those who claim that, if God existed, religion would have to be simple betrays a misconception of religion.

• Christianity is the religion which brings faith and reason together. This is seen most clearly in St. John’s assertion that Jesus is the Logos (John 1:1).

• Having rejected atheism and “Christianity” and water, Lewis now tackles the problem which the universe presents to us – evil. One option is the Christian worldview which says this is a good world which has gone bad. The second option is Dualism.

• Dualism believes that there are two equal and independent powers behind the universe, one good, one evil. An example of a dualistic religion is Zoroastrianism. Manichaeism, a belief system held by St. Augustine prior to his conversion, is also dualistic. You can also see elements of this idea in New Age beliefs as well.

• Jack’s discussion of dualism is important for two reasons:

1. We get to test the truth claims of the system
2. It allows our author to explain the fundamental nature of evil

• If we assume dualism is true, we have to explain how we identify one “power” as “good” and the other “evil”. However, how do we make this distinction?

1. Personal preference (much like a preference for Red Vines over Twizzlers). The problem here is that this makes it purely subjective.
2. An objective standard, which necessitates a third “power” over and above the other two. This relates to the central argument of Book I.

• The second problem with dualism is that it must mean that the “bad” power like badness for its own sake, but we have no experience of this. Evil is always dependent upon goodness. It is not so much an entity in its own right, in the same way darkness is really an absence of light. Sin is seeking something good in the wrong way, at the wrong time or to the wrong degree. Lewis makes the point that we explain sexual perversion in relation to true sexual expression, but we cannot do it the other way around.

• I mentioned an article by the “Theology of the Body” expert, Christopher West, where he talks about the death of Hugh Hefner. Matt mentioned the book The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser.

• It is with this understanding of evil, we can understand that the devil is a fallen angel.

• I mentioned another C.S. Lewis book, The Screwtape Letters.

• Christianity does have some elements of dualism in it, without the problems of full-blown dualism. There is a war, but it is a civil war in which we are invited to take a part. This is a message I think Christian men (in particular) need to hear.

Restless Heart: 13 – “By Faith alone?”

Luther

Luther

Since it is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Nessa and I are devoting the next to episodes to the two key doctrines of the Reformation: “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone) and “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone). Today we’ll begin by looking at the first of these doctrines, Sola Fide.

Please subscribe to this podcast using iTunesGoogle Play or Podbean. If you have any feedback or would like to pose a question for an upcoming episode, you can send us a message from the website or tweet us at @davidandnessa.

Episode 13: By faith alone? (Download)

 

— Show Notes —

• The venue Nessa visited in San Diego with dueling pianos was Shout House.

• The book our C.S. Lewis reading group has started discussing is The Four Loves.

• The novels by Taylor Marshall which are set in the Early Church are entitled The Sword and the Serpent.

• Over the next two weeks we’re going to look at “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone) and “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone)

• Luther thought that Sola Fide was the central element of Christianity:

“If the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost”
– Luther, Lectures On Galatians

• I quoted from the Protestant apologetics site “Got Questions”:

“Sola fide or faith alone is a key point of difference between not only Protestants and Catholics but between biblical Christianity and almost all other religions and teachings. The teaching that we are declared righteous by God (justified) on the basis of our faith alone and not by works is a key doctrine of the Bible and a line that divides most cults from biblical Christianity…

If we abandon the doctrine of justification by faith, we abandon the only way of salvation…

The Bible teaches that those that trust Jesus Christ for justification by faith alone are imputed with His righteousness, while those who try to establish their own righteousness or mix faith with works will receive the punishment due to all who fall short of God’s perfect standard”
–  GotQuestions.org (Emphasis added)

• A key text for Luther in relation to his doctrine of Sola Fide was:

“For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law”
– Romans 3:28

However, when he translated it, he added an additional word:

“For we maintain that a person is justified by faith ALONE apart from the works of the law”
– Romans 3:28

To justify this change, Luther responded thus:

“If your papist wishes to make a great fuss about the word sola [alone], say this to him: ‘Dr. Martin Luther will have it so, and he says that a papist and a donkey are the same thing.'”
– An Open Letter on Translating by Martin Luther

(The term “papist” here refers to Catholics)

• Luther was a master at insults. So much so, that today you can generate an insult from the Luther Insult Generator.

• Other important texts which were used to justify “Faith Alone” were Galatians 2:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9.

• When Paul talks about “works”, he is talking about the works of the Mosaic Law. In fact, he spends a lot of time in his letters comparing the Old Covenant with Moses to the New Covenant with Jesus.

• There only verse of the Bible which speaks of “faith alone” is the following passage from the Epistle of James:

“You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone”
– James 2:24

Luther referred to this epistle as an “epistle of straw” and he moved it to the appendix of his translation of the Bible:

“We should throw the Epistle of James out of this school, for it doesn’t amount to much. It contains not a syllable about Christ. Not once does it mention Christ, except at the beginning. I maintain that some Jew wrote it who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any.”
–  Luther’s works, vol. 54: Table Talk

• Nessa asked about what a Catholic should do if he “has a beef” with the Catholic Church. I suggested that it would probably depend upon the kind of issue at hand:

1. Doctrinal Issue
If you disagree with Catholic doctrine, first of all make sure that what you’re rejecting actually is the Catholic teaching on the matter and not some distortion of it. Once you have done this, find yourself a knowledgable Catholic to explain the basis of the doctrine.

2. Issues of Scandal
Reform yourself first! Be an example for others to imitate, imitating St. Francis and St. Dominic.

• I discussed my approach when discussing the Epistle of James. I ask a series of questions:

1. Can a dead faith save you? No? So you’re saying that you need a faith that’s alive?
2. Can a barren faith save you? No? So you’re saying that you need a fruitful faith?
3. Can an incomplete faith save you? No? So you’re saying that you need a complete faith?

• This then leads to another round of questions:

1. How is faith given life?
2. How is a barren faith made fruitful?
3. What is the difference between a complete faith and an incomplete faith?

The answer, according to the Epistle of James, is “Works”. In his letter, James teaches that faith must be living, fruitful and complete:

1. Living Faith
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead
– James 2:17

2. Fruitful Faith
“Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren?”
– James 2:20

3. Complete Faith
“[Abraham’s] faith was made complete by what he did
– James 2:22

• On the subject of faith and works, I quote CS Lewis who said:

“Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or Faith in Christ…it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary”
– Mere Christianity 

You should listen to my C.S. Lewis podcast, The Eagle and Child.

• The Catholic Church does not teach a works-based righteousness. She condemned this heresy (“Pelagianism”) in the Fifth Century! 

• I quote Lewis a second time when he’s explaining how the divine life should be nurtured and protected:

“Your natural life is derived from your parents; that does not mean it will stay there if you do nothing about it. You can lose it by neglect, or you can drive it away by committing suicide. You have to feed it and look after it: but always remember you are not making it, you are only keeping up a life you got from someone else. In the same way a Christian can lose the Christ-life which has been put into him, and he has to make efforts to keep it. But even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam – he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts”
– Mere Christianity

• The pithiest summary of salvation really comes from St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians:

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”
– Galatians 5:6

• Pope Emeritus Benedict articulated this in one of

Being “just” simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary. For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love. Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love. So it is that in the Letter to the Galatians in which he primarily developed his teaching on justification St Paul speaks of faith that works through love
– Pope Benedict XVI, Wednesday Audience, 19th November 2008

The Eagle and Child: S1E8 – “The Rival Conceptions Of God”

Jesus

Jesus

With Book I of “Mere Christianity” complete, we now move on to Book II! Having concluded that the Moral Law points to God, C.S. Lewis now examines the “Rival Conceptions of God”.

If you enjoy this episode, you can subscribe manually, or through a service like iTunesGoogle Play or Podbean. As always, if you have any objections, comments or questions, please send us an email through my website or tweet us @pintswithjack.

Episode 8: “Rival Conceptions of God” (Download)

 

— Show Notes —

• My outline for this chapter is available here. There is also a C.S. Lewis Doodle.

• Matt and I drank the last bottles of Heiniken in my fridge. If you have any beer recommendations for us, please tweet @pintswithjack.

• Jack begins the chapter by dividing the population into theists, who believe in some kind of God (or gods), and atheists.

• For the majority of human history, people have believed in God or gods. Even today, although there is an increasing number of people who do not profess a particular religion, still most people believe in the supernatural. While this isn’t proof that God exists, it should hopefully give one pause for thought before entirely rejecting theism.

• In our discussion, Matt referenced a passage from C.S. Lewis where he wrote that an atheist can’t be too careful about what he reads. I said I thought this was from the Screwtape Letters. While in Chapter 1 of that book Uncle Screwtape certainly talks about restricting a person’s reading, after further thought, I think Matt was actually thinking of this line from Surprised by Joy: “A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading”.

• The document Nostra Aetate from the Second Vatican Council speaks about the relationship between Catholicism and other world religions:

“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men…”
– Nostra Aetate, Paragraph #2

Christianity can take the more liberal view, recognizing elements of truth in other religions, whereas atheism must hold that they are all essentially wrong. Atheism makes the bold claim that the vast majority of people who have ever lived have been wrong on this fundamental question of reality.

• Despite being able to recognize truth in other religions, Christianity does, however, still make absolute truth claims:

“…Indeed, she [the Church] proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself”
– Nostra Aetate, Paragraph #2

• Matt tells the story about evangelization and the magician Penn Jillette. You can listen to the story in Penn’s own words in a video he recorded. In a talk I give on evangelization, I quote Penn regarding Christians who don’t evangelize: “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

• Jack then subdivides the theists into the pantheists and the non-pantheists.

Pantheists believe that God is beyond good and evil. They therefore can also hold to the idea that the universe basically is God. Among those who are pantheists, Jack identifies Hindus and Georg Hagel, the Prussian idealistic philosopher.

In contrast, non-pantheists, recognizing that much of the world has gone wrong, cannot identify it as “part of God”. Chief among the non-pantheists are the Jews, Christians and Muslims (which he identifies using the old-fashioned and rather politically-incorrect word, “Mohammedans”).

• Matt mentions Gnosticism, which is the belief that while the spirit is good, the world of matter is intrinsically evil.

• We briefly discuss the idea that the purpose of Christianity is not simply to turn us into nice people. Jack will address this issue directly in Book IV.

• We ended with a discussion of “The Problem of Evil”. Matt refers to Lewis’ book The Problem of Pain and says that the problem of evil presupposes God. I mentioned the book Stealing from God by Frank Turek.

• Lewis sums up the main problem with his former argument for atheism:

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line…

…I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too- for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist-in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense.

Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

• I referred to a story about the grandmother of Trent Horn’s wife, who fortuitously missed her opportunity to travel on The Titanic. After the show, I double-checked the details of this story and discovered that she didn’t miss the boat due to sickness, but because her mother wouldn’t give her permission to go. The point of the story, however, still stands. We are rarely in a good position to be able to see the good which can come out of suffering and be able to see the ripple effects through time.

The Eagle and Child: S1E7 – “We Have Cause to Be Uneasy”

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.

We finally come to the last chapter of Book I of “Mere Christianity”! The chapter bears the ominous title “We have cause to be uneasy”. Thus far, C.S. Lewis has demonstrated that there is a Moral Law which we did not create and that we violate this Law continually. Now Jack explains why this should give us cause for concern…

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Episode 7: “We have cause to be uneasy” (Download)

 

— Show Notes —

• My outline for the Chapter 5 is available here. There is also a C.S. Lewis Doodle for this chapter.

• The line “Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia” comes from C.S. Lewis’ fictional work, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”

• As my mother pointed out, people should be calling me “Sir David”, not “Sir Bates”. You have been told…

• The beers for this episode were Blue Moon and Heineken.

• Jack reviews what has been established thus far:

  1. There is a Moral Law
  2. In this Moral Law something or someone beyond the material universe is “getting at us”

• The phrase “religious jaw” used by Lewis means “religious chatter”.

• When speaking about the desire of some people to only pay attention to new ideas, I mentioned Acts 17:21, the incident where St. Paul visits the Areopagus:

Then they took [Paul] and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

• In response to someone who rejects what Lewis says because “you cannot put the clock back”, he makes three points:

1. Moving forward sometimes requires you to go backwards (like a cha-cha!)
Progress means getting closer to your destination, not simply being “new”.

• We gave a number of examples demonstrating this. Firstly, I mentioned how I missed a sign while walking the Camino De Santiago and ended up heading in the wrong direction. I had to backtrack in order to ultimately arrive at my destination. Matt gave the example of making a mistake early in a mathematical calculation. He also explained how a small mistake early in a flight, a few degrees of difference, can result in a very different destination (San Diego vs Seattle).

• We discussed whether or not it’s really controversial to say that modern humanity is making a lot of mistakes. I mentioned same of the disturbing comments from Princeton Philosopher Peter Singer about killing young children. Matt told a story by Fr. Mike Schmitz about a member of his congregation who survived vicious persecution in China for his Christianity, only to then succumb to a slow fade in his faith after escaping to America. I also brought up the example of the sexual revolution and the damage which it has done to marriage, family and therefore society as a whole.

2. We haven’t yet reached “religion”
We’ve just established the existence of the Moral Law and a “something” behind it. We can’t just dismiss Lewis’ arguments because we can see the direction in which they point. Each argument should, instead be judged on its individual merits. We haven’t got as far as a person. Perhaps a mind?

Lewis then asks two questions. What can we know about this “something”…

(a) …based upon the universe?
Lewis says we can know that this “something” is an artist, but also very dangerous.

(b) …based upon the Moral Law?
Jack says this thing cares a lot about Right and Wrong. He even goes so far as to say that we can’t even yet call this thing “forgiving”. I quote the often-repeated phrase in the Chronicles of Narnia referring to Aslan: “He’s not a tame lion”.

3. Christianity only makes sense once you understand the questions it answers.
Christianity promises people forgiveness…and therefore has nothing to say to those who do not feel they need forgiveness!

• Christianity is a thing of great comfort, but it does not begin that way. In Book IV, Lewis devotes an entire chapter to answering the question: “Is Christianity hard or easy?”

• We both spoke about how Christianity makes sense of the reality which we experience, quoting Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but by it I see everything else”. I then also paraphrased G.K. Chesterton who said that all his reasons for faith could be boiled down to one reason – it’s true.

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