Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2010 12:26 pm
The Messenger, September 16, 2010
C. S. Lewis and
By ARTHUR W. HUNT
Special to The Messenger
Many people today are familiar with C.S. Lewis because they have read his children’s books, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” or have seen the movies based on the series. But did you know Lewis is considered one of the greatest Christian apologists of the 20th century?
During the Second World War, the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) asked Lewis to do a series of radio talks that would merely “explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” The talks eventually became a book titled “Mere Christianity.”
The book is somewhat like an onion that requires peeling one layer at a time. The first layer is an explanation of moral law. Lewis says the moral law is the idea that somebody or something from beyond the material universe is trying to get at us. There are two bits of evidence about this somebody. The first bit of evidence is that the universe appears to be made — what some today might call “intelligent design.” The second bit of evidence is that the moral law seems to reside inside of us.
Concerning the first proof, Lewis says one can conclude that this somebody is a great artist. If you walked into a room and saw a large, beautiful painting it would be logical to assume that someone created it and put it there.
While the universe is a beautiful place, it can also be dangerous and terrifying place. Lewis says if we only had this first proof we might reach the conclusion that this somebody is quite merciless and “no friend of man.”
Our conscience — the second proof — is actually a stronger piece of evidence because it is “inside information.” Seeing the masterful handiwork in the universe is like looking at a house that has been built by someone, but the moral law in conscience is like eavesdropping on somebody’s conversation. The evidence of conscience is stronger because you can learn more about a person by listening to them talk than by looking at what they have made.
Our conscience reveals itself like this: “Hey, that wasn’t fair!” and “I think she just lied to me!” and “Well, I’ll just try to do better next time.”
“Now, from this second bit of evidence,” says Lewis, “we conclude the Being behind the universe is intensely interested in right conduct — in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness.”
These two obvious pieces of evidence should give us reason to be uneasy. At this point the doubter is tempted to say, “Well, what about all the injustice and evil in the world?”
Lewis asked himself this same question before he was a Christian. What haunted him was, Where did the idea of “just” and “unjust” come from? How can we know a line is crooked unless we have some idea of a straight line?
That there is evil in the world is clear. But Christianity teaches that evil is the perversion of good; otherwise, Satan would be on the same level with God. Badness turns out to be spoiled goodness, and we are in a terrible predicament if this God is perfectly holy.
The gospel says that God became a man in Christ, fulfilled the moral law perfectly, and overcame death through His resurrection that we might be spared eternal judgment.
Lewis said there were only three alternatives about Christ. He was (and is) what He claimed to be (God); or He was a lunatic; or He was something worse. For Lewis, it made perfect spiritual sense to believe the first.
Editor’s note: Arthur W. Hunt is associate professor of communications at the University of Tennessee at Martin and a member of Grace Community Church (www.graceunioncity.com).