“No safe investment”- CS Lewis on Love

from C. S. Lewis’s The Four Loves:

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, give it to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation   The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

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The Well-Adjusted Jesus- CS Lewis

from The Four Loves, referring to the problems he saw with classifying all human problems as psychological or pathological and how “normal” should not necessarily be our goal:

“We have only seen one such Man. And He was not at all like the psychologist’s picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen.  You can’t really be very well “adjusted” to your world if it says you “have a devil” and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.”

One Vast Need…

from CS Lewis’s ever-quotable “The Four Loves”:

“Every Christian would agree that a man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God.  But man’s love for God, from the very nature of the case, must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a Need-love.  This is obvious when we implore forgiveness for our sins or support in our tribulations.  But in the long run it is perhaps even more apparent in our growing–for it ought to be growing–awareness that our whole being by its very nature is one vast need; incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are still dangling loose.” (italics mine)

Resurrection People- Day 5

“Resurrection and Re-Creation”

“The picture is not what we expected–though whether it is less or more probable and philosophical on that account is another question.  It is not the picture of an escape from any and every kind of Nature into some unconditioned and utterly transcendent life.  It is the picture of a new human nature, and a new Nature in general, being brought into existence…That is the picture–not of unmaking but of remaking.  The old filed of space, time, matter, and the senses is to be weeded, dug, and sown for a new crop.  We may be tired of that old field: God is not.”

from Miracles, by CS Lewis, p. 155.

National Repentance…CS Lewis

I wish I had this essay in pamphlet form every time the first Thursday in May rolls around (National Day of Prayer).  It is titled “Dangers of National Repentance” and can be found in the God in the Dock collection of essays.

“The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the more congenital one of bewailing–but first, of denouncing–the conduct of others.  If it were clear to the young that this is what he is doing, no doubt he would remember the law of charity.  Unfortunately, the very terms in which national repentance is recommended to him conceal its true nature.  By a dangerous figure of speech, he calls the Government not ‘they’ but ‘we’.  And since, as penitents, we are not encouraged to be charitable to our own sins, nor to give ourselves the benefit of any doubt, a Government which is called ‘we’ is ipso facto placed beyond the sphere of charity or even of justice.  You can say anything you please about it.  You can indulge in the popular vice of detraction without restraint, and yet feel all the time that you are practicing contrition.  A group of such young penitents will say, ‘Let us repent our national sins’; what they mean is, ‘Let us attribute to our neighbour (even our Christian neighbour) in the Cabinet, whenever we disagree with him, every abominable motive that Satan can suggest to our fancy.”
But we would never do any of that in America, would we?

on that Sermon on the Mount…CS Lewis

In another essay entitled “Rejoinder to Dr. Pittenger” from the God in the Dock collection, Lewis gives a dead-on evaluation of the Sermon on the Mount in response to criticism that Lewis liked Paul’s theology of sin too much and didn’t “care for” Jesus’ more optimistic ethics, such as found in the Sermon on the Mount.  (For anyone who has read Lewis and knows how LITTLE time and energy he spends discussing Pauline theology, this accusation itself is ridiculous.  This compares to someone accusing Martin Luther of spending too much time in practical books like James and not enough reading Paul.)

From Lewis:

“The statement that I do not ‘care much for’ the Sermon on the Mount but ‘prefer’ the ‘Pauline ethic’ of man’s sinfulness and helplessness carries a suggestion of alternatives between which we may choose, where I see successive stages through which we must proceed.  Most of my books are evangelistic, addressed to tous exo [Greek for “those without/outside”].  It would have been inept to preach forgiveness and a Savior to those who did not know they were in need of either.  Hence St. Paul’s and [John] the Baptist’s diagnosis (would you call it exactly an ethic?) had to be pressed.  Nor am I aware that our Lord revised it (‘if ye, being evil…’)

As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the mount, if ‘caring for’ here means ‘liking’ or enjoying, I suppose no one ‘cares for’ it.  Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge-hammer?  I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure.  This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion.’  Such a man is not yet ripe for the Bible…”

On Trimming Theology…CS Lewis

In an essay entitled “Horrid Red Things” from the God in the Dock collection, which later appears as a chapter in the longer work Miracles, Lewis makes a bold challenge to those of his day attempting to strip the Christian faith from its theological baggage, especially that of an historical* or miraculous nature.

“I think there are two things that Christians must do if they wish to convince this ‘ordinary’ modern man.  In the first place, they must make it quite clear that what will remain of the Creed after all their explanations and reinterpretations will still be somehting quite unambiguously supernatural, miraculous, and shocking.  We may not believe in a flat earth [and I add that most Christians in history didn’t either, contrary to the myths about Columbus] and a sky-palace.  But we must insist from the beginning that we believe, as firmly as any savage or theosophist, in a spirit-world which can, and does, invade the natural or phenomenal universe.  For the plain man suspects that when we start explaining, we are going to explain away: that we have mythology for our ignorant hearers and are ready, when cornered by educated hearers, to reduce it to innocuous moral platitudes which no one ever dreamed of denying.  And there are theologians [and still are today] who justify this suspicion.  From them we must part company absolutely.  If nothing remains except what could be equally well stated without Christian formulae, then the honest thing is to admit that Christianity is untrue and to begin over again without it. [italics mine]