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Archive for the ‘C.S. Lewis’ Category

Stack of books at the bookshop

Open Book is a podcast sponsored by Ligonier Ministries. Stephen Nichols interviewed R.C. Sproul in its first season and John MacArthur this season in their respective libraries about authors and books that have had great influence on them.

The podcast got me thinking: what authors have influenced me? The first standard I used  was simply the number of books written by particulars author in my library, excluding commentaries. Here are five of the authors who appear most in my personal library.

  1. John MacArthur. I have more books written by MacArthur in my library than any other author. I’ve learned much from him and admire his faithfulness to Scripture.
  2. R.C. Sproul. Sproul’s influence on me has been immeasurable. From the holiness and sovereignty of God to an unwavering commitment to the gospel, I owe a debt of gratitude to him. I miss him.
  3. Jerry Bridges. The Pursuit of Holiness was my introduction to Bridges, which began  commitment to read everything he writes. I’ve almost achieved it. Bridges is faithful to the Word, simple yet profound, and encouraging.
  4. Francis Schaeffer. I’m glad I read Schaeffer as a new Christian because he helped shape my worldview. Some of his concepts were a bit beyond me, but as I re-read him, they became clearer. Schaeffer’s thinking and warnings stand up well today.
  5. C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity was the first of many Lewis books. He has an engaging style and gives you a lot to think about. He was a professor of classics, and many of his  works are just that.

I need to point out that by mentioning these books and authors, I’m not endorsing everything they wrote.

So, what’s in your library?

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cslewis

C.S. Lewis was an atheist for many years and had a big question:

If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply wouldn’t listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling, ‘whatever you say and however clever your arguments are, isn’t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by an intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?’ But then that threw me back into those difficulties about atheism which I spoke of a moment ago.

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 doesn’t call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man isn’t a water animal: a fish wouldn’t feel wet. Of course 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 that it just didn’t happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God didn’t exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found that 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 it has no meaning: just as if there were no light in the universe and no creatures with eyes we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.

(The Case for Christianity, pp. 34-35. Italics in original.)

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The Case for Christianity is a brief defense of the faith written by master apologist C.S. Lewis. The book is made up of talks Lewis originally gave on British radio during World War II. The book’s first half deals with what is called “the moral argument” for the existence of God. We all – without exception – have a sense of ethics and morality, but where does it come from? The obvious answer is God – the moral law-giver. The book’s second half deals with what Lewis calls “mere Christianity,” or those doctrines to which all Christians agree. The Case for Christianity is well-reasoned and well-written.

The biggest takeaway for me is the effectiveness of the moral law in arguing for God’s existence and man’s sinfulness (because we don’t even live up to our own standard). The Lord may use that realization to open a non-believer’s eyes, ears, and heart, to the truth of God and His gospel. Tolls lege!

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From the fertile imagination of C.S. Lewis comes the classic depiction of a senior demon, Screwtape, writing to a junior demon, Wormwood, under his supervision. Lewis gives his readers a look inside Satan’s schemes and devices against God’s people. In each chapter, we encounter different demonic tactics used to lead us astray. Written in 1961, it’s still as contemporary as it was then.

While I found The Screwtape Letters engaging and easy to read, it was also convicting. Not a few of Satan’s schemes are a little too close for comfort. I heartily recommend reading the book, but get ready to see yourself in it. Tolls lege!

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C.J. Mahaney defines humility as “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.”

C.S. Lewis describes humility in the following way: “In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.”

Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,  but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; and do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

1 Peter 5:5 says, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'”

Lord, we are far too proud and far too full of ourselves. Give us grace that we may be humble and forgive us for our irrational and unfounded pride. Develop the virtue of humility in our hearts so that it may work its way out into our actions. In the Name of the One whose humble example we’re to follow, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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C.S. Lewis:

Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or Faith in Christ? I have no right really to speak on such difficult questions, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. A serious moral effort is the only thing that will bring you to the point where you throw up the sponge. Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point: and out of that Faith in Him good actions must inevitable come.

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On the subject of temptation, C.S. Lewis wrote:

Bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse within us until we try to fight it.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

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