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



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”



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?”



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”
– (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

Mere Christianity – Book IV – Chapter 11 (“The New Men”)



At last we come to the final chapter of “Mere Christianity” completing my notes for the book.

1. Christ came to transform

“…Christ’s work…is not mere improvement but Transformation. The nearest parallel to it in the world of nature is to be found in the remarkable transformations we can make in insects by applying certain rays to them. Some people think this is how Evolution worked”

(a) We are used to transformation through evolution

“…Everyone now knows about Evolution (though, of course, some educated people disbelieve it): everyone has been told that man has evolved from lower types of life. Consequently, people often wonder ‘What is the next step? When is the thing beyond man going to appear?'”

(b) People have constantly been incorrectly predicting the next step

“…I cannot help thinking that the Next Step will be really new; it will go off in a direction you could never have dreamed of. It would hardly be worth calling a New Step unless it did. I should expect not merely difference but a new kind of difference. I should expect not merely change but a new method of producing the change…. And finally, I should not be surprised if, when the thing happened, very few people noticed that it was happening”

(c) The Next Step is here

“Now, if you care to talk in these terms, the Christian view is precisely that the Next Step has already appeared. And it is really new. It is not a change from brainy men to brainier men: it is a change that goes off in a totally different direction – a change from being creatures of God to being sons of God. The first instance appeared in Palestine two thousand years ago”

This step has some differences in relation to the past…

“And in fact this New Step differs from all previous ones not only in coming from outside nature but in several other ways as well”

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Mere Christianity – Book IV – Chapter 10 (“Nice People Or New Men?”)



Picking back up my notes for C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”…

1. If Christianity is true, why are all Christians not obviously nicer than all non-Christians?

(a) Part of this question is very reasonable

“If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions… I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary…”

(i) Jesus told us to judge by results

“Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in ‘religion’ mean nothing unless they make our actual behaviour better; just as in an illness ‘feeling better’ is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up… Christ told us to judge by results”

(ii) When we fail to live up to our calling, we make Christianity harder to believe for others

“When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world… Our careless lives set the outer world talking; and we give them grounds for talking in a way that throws doubt on the truth of Christianity itself”

(b) Part of this question is very unreasonable

But there is another way of demanding results in which the outer world may be quite illogical…. they should see the whole world neatly divided into two camps -Christian and non-Christian – and that all the people in the first camp at any given moment should be obviously nicer than all the people in the second.

There are several flaws with this kind of thinking…

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The Eagle and Child: S1E6 – “What lies behind the Law”

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

Our penultimate chapter of Book I of “Mere Christianity” is Chapter 4 and is entitled “What lies behind the Law”. In this episode, Jack digs into the consequences of the Moral Law and, in particular, what we can know about the universe in which we live.

Unfortunately, there were some small issues in this episode with my microphone, a bit of a crackle, but hopefully I’ll have it sorted out by the next time Matt and I record agin.

If you enjoy this episode, you can subscribe using iTunes or Google Play. As always, if you have any objections, comments or questions, please send us an email through my website or tweet us @pintswithjack.

Episode 6: “What lies behind the Law” (Download)


— Show Notes —

* My outline for the Chapter 4 is available here.

* Jack divides the worldviews concerning the universe into two categories (and later three):

1. The materialist view
2. The religious view

* When we were speaking about the breathtaking sequence of coincidences necessary for life to exist, I referenced a video produced by the Unbelievable radio host, Justin Brierley.

* We mentioned the Big Bang Theory which was put forward by scientist and Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre.

* I briefly referenced the Kalam Cosmological Argument which, when expressed as a syllogism, is as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
2. The universe began to exist;
3. Therefore: The universe has a cause.

The conclusion of this argument is that if time, space and matter came into existence at the beginning, the cause of the universe must be timeless, spaceless and immaterial. Sound familiar?

* We referenced some other proofs for God, such as the Five Ways of St. Thomas Aquinas. For a wonderful presentation on these and some of the other proofs for God, I’d recommend this recording of a talk given by Professor Peter Kreeft, as well as the recently-released book by the philosopher Edward Faser called “Five Proofs of the existence of God”.

* Matt spoke about “Why we’re Catholic”, a book by Trent Horn, which he recently received from a generous podcast cohost!

* Matt talks about his interaction with famous Atheist, Richard Dawkins, who wrote “The God Delusion”. That discussion referenced Lawrence Krauss and his book “A Universe from Nothing”. In response to this, I mentioned a rather funny moment on a TV show where Richard Dawkins was a guest along with Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney.

* We discussed “scientism”, the popular idea that all knowledge must be reduced to scientific knowledge and that other sources of truth, such as philosophy, must be discarded. One of the main problems with this view is that this is not scientific! It’s a philosophical claim! Additionally, science is based on an number of axioms which cannot be proved by science and must simply be assumed:

1. A world outside our minds must exist
2. We must be able to attain true knowledge of this world
3. Logic must be operable
4. Our sense must give us trustworthy data
5. Nature must be orderly and constant

* The two proponents of “Life-Force Philosophy” mentioned were the playwright George Bernard Shaw and the philosopher Henri Bergson. George Bernard Shaw was a great supporter of Eugenics and here is a a brief video clip of him espousing his rather disturbing views.

* Rejoice, there is a C.S. Lewis Doodle this week!

Mere Christianity – Book IV – Chapter 9 (“Counting The Cost”)



Picking back up my notes for C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”…

1. “Be ye perfect” does not mean that God isn’t going to help us until we get our act together

“Some people seem to think this means ‘Unless you are perfect, I will not help you’; and as we cannot be perfect…our position is hopeless. But I do not think He did mean that. I think He meant ‘The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less'”

(a) Jack wouldn’t go to his mother with a toothache because he knew he’d get something else in addition to the relief from immediate pain…

(i) He’d wait until the pain got really bad

“When I was a child I often had toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother – at least, not till the pain became very bad…”

(ii) …because he knew he’d also get a trip to the dentist…

“I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want…”

(iii) …and the dentist wouldn’t restrict himself just to that tooth…

And I knew those dentists; I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache… if you gave them an inch they took an ell”

(b) God is like a dentist

“Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take an ell. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of (like masturbation or physical cowardice) or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment”

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