Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Inner Ring

In C.S. Lewis' "The Inner Ring", he discusses humans as insiders and outsiders of groups. He discusses the amusement that people have in knowing that they are part of a select group who have authority to admit some into the "ring" or dismiss others from it. Lewis states that these "rings" are all around and those who are on the outside must be careful as to why they want in.

A serious question is raised, must we be apart of a select group to really feel as if we belong in society? Lewis points out that being a member of the "inner ring" is not an evil in itself, for some things must be kept from others, but he warns those who use the "ring" for gossip and deceit.

Another important topic that must be looked at is the importance of the individual. Society cannot consist of people who simply are all the same, all the time, about everything; we must have individuals who are unique and make choices for themselves.

In conclusion, Lewis points out that we must not be in search of these inner rings, but simply maintain fellowship with friends and that in doing so, secrecy and a sense of separation from others will naturally occur, as a sort of by-product. However, the importance is placed upon making true, friendships that strengthen our walks with Christ.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Problem of Pain

C.S. Lewis' book, The Problem of Pain, he deals with the issue, how can there be pain in the world with a good and merciful God? Despite all the evil in the world, we must never forget that God is in control and that He does not nor has He ever created evil, but allows it to happen due to the fall. When those around us blame God for troubles and hardships, we must encourage them to realize that it is not God who tempts, but it is Satan. However, even when the devil tempts us, God gives him permission to do so and only allows as much as we can handle.

This reading stirs up many questions, such as, "Does God suffer?" What I have come to believe is that God has only endured suffering through the person of God the Son by His death on the cross. I also believe that God could not suffer the way we think of suffering because He would take off some of His focus on loving us. In addition to taking His attention off of loving us, this idea that God can suffer, implies that God is temporal and not eternal. For if something could have power to make God suffer, this would question God's own power. Evil cannot blackmail good, for it has no authority nor power to do so. God therefore cannot be subject to suffering.

Man or Rabbit?

In C.S. Lewis' essay "Man or Rabbit", he raises the question, "Can't you lead a good life without believing in Christianity?" He begins the essay by stating the fact that someone who asks this question, often does not care about Christianity at all but wants to live a "good life", according to society. If a man wishes to live a "good life" without Christ, he is a foolish man. "He is deliberately trying not to know whether Christianity is true or false, because he forsees endless trouble if it should turn out to be true." That man is lazy and does not want to have to glorify God, but only please himself.

Lewis' position on this question is that humans cannot achieve a "good life" without the help of Jesus in our lives. He states, "A decent life is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for." This statement encourages us to think how we often set the bar so low, when we should be raising the bar and trying to fully glorify God with our gifts and talents. Thus in setting up a goal to strive for simply a "good life", we completely miss our point of existence. We were created for eternal happiness and life with our Creator in heaven.

Friday, January 23, 2009


The fourth chapter of Plantinga's Engaging God's World is titled, "Redemption" and discusses the importance of God's grace and mercy for His creation. Despite our desires to be close to God, sin creates a barrier between the Creator and creation. Humans sin constantly and we rely on the grace of God to forgive us of that sin, which Jesus paid for with His blood on the cross. Christians, for the most part, understand what is right and what is wrong, and how to control their actions. However, action is not always the sin, failing to act when injustice occurs in the world, and turning our face away from evils we know to be sinful. Christians, today, must not conform to society’s standards of what is right, but conform to scripture and what God says is right. Only then, will non believers see what the grace of God is like, through our actions.

God forgives all those who sin, if we only ask for it and believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Therefore, we should be willing to forgive those who do wrong to us because God forgives all sins. Lewis explains this concept in his essay, "On Forgiveness", by asking, how we can expect God to forgive, if we fail to forgive those who sin against us.

The Abolition of Man

In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis discusses the philosophy of education. He starts by talking about the miseducation of our youth from the "uncultivated souls", who lack the capacity to perceive all of God's splendor and His wondrous grace. In addition to realizing that God's grace and splendor is the greatest of all gifts, we must understand that intellect and reasoning cannot take the place of emotions.

Lewis continues to discuss that education is creating "men without chests." These "men without chests" lack virtue and the set of values necessary for all men. We must understand that in our education, we must never cease to teach principles such as integrity, honesty, and diligence. For if we continue to strip away virtuous education, our society will fail and an undesirable future will come upon us.

We must recognize God's grace and live according to how Jesus commanded. Our vocation, and calling to be fishers of men is the task that our Savior appointed to us. In doing so, we glorify and give honor to Him.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Four Loves

In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis distinguishes between the four different types of love. They are Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape.

Storge is the humblest of all loves, and is the least discriminating. It focuses on affection and is often related to the love between a mother and her child.

Philia is the least jealous of all loves, and possesses a certain "unnatural" quality. It is often related to the intense bond between friends who wish to seek a common truth together.

Eros is more commonly known as the love shared between two lovers. However, Eros has two parts-Eros and Venus. Venus is the carnal aspect of Eros, where a man desires a woman and seeks her for pleasure. Eros is the romantic and emotional side, where a man desires the woman and seeks her for who she truly is. Eros is the most appreciative of all pleasures, yet happiness is not its aim. The balance of giving and receiving is delicate and is only found by those who feel Eros, not just Venus.

Agape is love shown by God for His creation and love for God by creation. Our love for our Creator should be the focal point in all our relationships. No matter what we do, we should do it to honor and glorify God.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vocation in the Kingdom of God

Chapter five of Plantinga's Engaging God's World is titled, "Vocation in the Kingdom of God" and discusses the Christian role in society. Vocation is a person’s calling in life. A Christian calling, according to Glenn Triezenberg, is “to continue Christ’s work until he returns, and in so doing to become a prime citizen of God’s kingdom.”

The vocation of a community should be to enhance the life, both physically and spiritually, of its people. If a community can succeed in ensuring that the physical needs are met for people to be comfortable and feel at peace, then it will also succeed in pointing people to Christ through action. Communities should help in the motivation of its members to discover their talent that God has blessed them with, and help to open the doors, so that their opportunities become vocation. Members of a community must communicate with each other to build one another up and help each other understand what your purpose and goals are in life. Vocation is lastly a product of service, and if a community takes the task of guiding its members toward their vocation, its service glorifies God and is made an example for other communities to follow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Learning in Wartime

In C.S. Lewis' essay, "Learning in Wartime", he discusses the importance of our attitudes and actions. He begins by stating that we often get lost in the idea that life is "normal". He says, "We are mistaken when we compare war with 'normal life'. Life has never been normal." Since we live abnormal lives, we must be a part of both physical and spiritual wars against evil. Lewis describes our role in war as "a religious duty, and our obligation to perform every duty is therefore absolute." Despite this duty, Lewis states that "a man may have to die for our country: but no man must, in any exclusive sense, live for his country." We must surrender ourselves to God and live according to His will.

Lewis discusses how we have enemies against learning. The first is excitement, and occurs when we feel like a new passion has risen, when we should still be focusing on obtaining knowledge. If you want to be successful, you must be willing to strive for knowledge, even when conditions are unfavorable. The second enemy is frustration, and occurs when we feel like we will not be able to finish what we long to do. However, we are called to live each day to the fullest and not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough worries of its own. The last enemy is fear of death. However, we must not forget that in death, we become perfect and live in paradise with our creator.

The Fall

The third chapter of Engaging God's World, "The Fall", discusses the affect of sin on our relationship with God. Plantinga explains human desire to "keep living our lives against what's good for us" and that our irrational decision to constantly disobey God has gone back to Adam and Eve and the first sin.

Plantinga describes sin as a deviation from the path of light and truth, which is God's path, into the darkness. As in Lewis' "The Poison of Subjectivism", Plantinga discusses that humans lack the rod with which to measure right against wrong. It is only by the grace of God and the belief of Jesus Christ as your savior can you know the difference between good and evil. However, by our original sin, "we have separated ourselves from God, who is our true life and have corrupted our entire nature."

In addition to corrupting ourselves when we sin, we corrupt others too. Plantinga gives the example of a father who beats his son, will eventually have a son who beats others and so on and so forth. Sin has a way of gaining momentum and in this momentum, sin is viewed as "normal." Viewing sin as something "normal" is such a danger to not only yourself, but something that is a threat to our society and eventually all mankind. For if a culture starts to fall prey to the corrupt, it will begin to lose hope. It is our duty, as Christians, to not allow this "normality of sin" ever occur. We must constantly fight for good and against evil in this world.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Poison of Subjectivism

In C.S. Lewis' essay, "The Poison of Subjectivism", he starts off by stating that practical reason is based solely upon a person's point of view on the difference between good and evil. If both sides have their view on "good", then who can say which is right? It's all based upon judgment. "Unless the measuring rod is independent of the things measured, we can do no measuring."

Humans cannot create this rod, which we can judge other things against, for we have no more power to create values than we have power to create a new sun. Lewis also explores the idea that humans can achieve a sense of improved morality. He disbelieves in improving our morality because, there is a set human nature that is constant in even very different cultures. "We do not hunt witches because we disbelieve in their existence. We do not kill men to avert pestilence because we do not think pestilence can thus be averted. We do 'sacrifice' men in war, and we do hunt spies and traitors."

As a result of the Fall, humans are now unable to fully understand the Law of Nature. So who then knows this Law and can create this measuring rod? God, in His divinity, created all values and morals and it is only He who has the authority to judge both the living and the dead.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mere Christianity

In the excerpt from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, he discusses the nature of humanity. Lewis discusses that there are not good or bad impulses, but rather simply just impulses and it is how we decide to act that determines whether it is good or bad. Impulses and instincts are like keys on the piano, they sound marvelous when some are played together but when others are used together, it loses its splendor.

Another point that Lewis makes is that, as Christians, we should not promote separation of the church but concentrate on things common throughout the church. For as Jesus is one with God the Father, we too must be one with each other in community. We learn how to act and behave at a young age and we must raise the children and future of mankind based upon Christian virtues and morals.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Screwtape Letters

In C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, he examines Christian life from the devil's perspective. Screwtape, an expert demon, is giving advice to his nephew Wormwood. He discusses how to tempt people by using certain strategies. Lewis states the danger of falling into "lukewarm" feelings about faith and sin. The devil's advice is to keep humans numb and unaware of the sins that they are doing. For Screwtape says, "Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick."

Christians who fall into a feeling of half guilt, are also in danger of steadily moving out into nothing. It is in this nothing that Christians must avoid by staying firm in what's right and just. For once we are numb to our actions, we will gradually start to progress into a whole new level of sin, that at first wouldn't dare be reached.

The dangers of just believing that because we go to church we will be saved is that we cannot go through life just doing the motions of a Christian, we must truly act as a child of God would and should act.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Weight of Glory

In C.S. Lewis' essay, "The Weight of Glory", he discusses the importance of living a virtuous life. Today, unselfishness has become the highest held virtue in our society, however, did Jesus not say that the greatest was love? This is where our problem is rooted. Humans, today, are more concerned with self admiration and pursuing ways to achieve happiness for one's self. Although it is true that humans are more magnificent than all other creation because we were created in God's image, we need to be careful when we strive to find glory.

In ancient Greece, warriors would search for the ultimate glory as dying for their country. Even though we know that what those warriors were no doubt heroic and showed great feats of bravery, we also know that they did not achieve any eternal glory. Why is it then that athletes, movie stars, and artists in today's society strive for that same "glory"? Have we not come to understand that the only way to achieve eternal glory is through Jesus Christ, our redeemer?

This is the duty of the church: to go and be fishers of men. We have been called by Jesus to show those around us that true glory is found in God, and that through His grace, we are able to live in eternal glory with Him. We must use God as our motivation for finding glory, and we must help to bring others to glory. For if love were still the greatest virtue, we would love our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity so much as to ensure that they would be in heaven one day. That is why love goes one step further than unselfishness; we reach out and bring others to glory.


Plantinga's second chapter of Engaging God's World is titled "Creation". God is referred to as the giver of existence. The idea, “creation out of nothing” is true because God is fully capable of existing on His own with the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, but it is by His grace that we were created and saved through Jesus.

The creation of the universe continues to be a mystery to all, and it is this mystery that strengthens the faith of Christians, simply because faith is all we, as Christians, have when believing in God. God, in addition to Creator of all existence, gives me the power to be unique from everyone else. This strengthens the idea that God did not simply create humans to control them, as if we were puppets, but rather to create them so they willingly choose to glorify Him.

As willing followers of Christ, we must be good stewards of the earth which God had created for us. We must not take advantage of creation, but rather enjoy its beauty. Plantinga states that we must always be glorifying God, in all we do. We cannot just be Christians who praise His name in church, but give Him glory and honor by living for Him.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our English Syllabus

In Lewis' "Our English Syllabus", he begins by discussing the purpose of education. Lewis states that in Milton's opinion, the purpose of education is the fitting of man "to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the offices both private and public, of peace and war." However, Lewis takes it further by stating the words of Aristotle, "We wage war in order to have peace; we work in order to have leisure." Lewis continues with the concept that man is superior to animals because of our desire and ability to obtain leisure. He cautions however, that we must not forget why we work and get caught up in ourselves with the work we are doing, but rather to take time to enjoy leisure and the beauty of God's creation.

An important question arises, are you human, of merely a candidate for humanity? Lewis states that in order to be a man, you must desire and long for things on your own, where as those who are merely candidates for humanity wish to have people tell them what to long for and how to obtain those desires. "The proper question for a freshman is not, 'What will do me most good?' but 'What do I most want to know?'

This idea of being a human or a candidate fits closely with the belief that there is a difference between education and learning. Education is merely having someone of higher knowledge take information and regurgitate it back to you, where learning can be done at anytime or anywhere, from anyone. Learning is the desire and longing to gain more wisdom, and we must not abandon the journey for wisdom, as it is far more easily understood and applied in life than mere knowledge. In addition to seeking wisdom, we may also gain other virtues along the way. Lewis explains the idea of playing sports, to win, requires practice and effort. As a result of this hard work, we become more healthy individuals, but if we were to exercise solely for becoming healthy, many of us would not be committed to it.

In conclusion, Lewis states that we are old enough to search for wisdom and understanding on our own, and we need to do so with a longing and desire to achieve it, or else we will lose interest and fall away.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Have No 'Right to Happiness'

In C.S. Lewis' essay, "Have No 'Right to Happiness' ", he gives his view on the concept of man's right to happiness. He starts the essay by talking about Clare's thoughts on a couple and their divorce so that they may marry each other. She says that it is their right to be happy, so their actions were justified. However, C.S. Lewis examines this concept further.

He begins by looking at a person's pursuit of happiness. He stresses the point that man is not entitled to pursue happiness by means that go against the beliefs of society, but rather pursue them by lawful means. Lewis then leads into happiness as often centered upon sexual happiness. He strongly disagrees with people who wish to treat sex as every other impulse that man is exposed to, but rather exclaims that sex should be treated like no other impulse we have in our nature. This is a great statement because God wants sex to be a sacred moment for marriage and if we treat it as something casual, we will not be pleasing God.

I believe that Lewis is explaining to us that we must be wise in what we pursue as our source of happiness and that we must pursue our happiness in a lawful manner. He also hints at the idea that there is a great difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is selfish and self-centered, where joy is experienced by the grace of Jesus and we are encouraged to live joyful lives in Christ.

Humans do not deserve happiness due to our sins but God's unchanging love brings joy and stirs happiness into our lives.

Longing and Hope

In the first chapter of Plantinga's Engaging God's World, the distinction of hope and longing are brought to attention. He discusses how longing is a part of hope, along with imagination, faith, and desire. As humans, we are restless for hope and we desire for it to come.

However, in our hope and longing, our desires must be lawful and approving in God's sight. It when we hope and long for our Savior, that God is pleased. Through Jesus and His death and resurrection, hope is renewed and found everlasting. All other earthly desires and lust can not offer peace or new life. We must long and hope for redemption in Jesus Christ.

Plantinga later discusses our hope for shalom. Shalom means peace, and in our search for shalom, we must never forget that it is only through God that we can achieve perfect shalom. In finding shalom personally, it is our duty, as Christians, to spread it to the community and to the world.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


C.S. Lewis' "Bulverism" is an essay on the foundation of 20th century thought. He begins by stating the two senses in which we exist. The Freudians and Marxians both state that thought is "ideologically tainted" at the source. However, Lewis points out that if this were the case, both the Freudians and Marxians-being systems of thought, just like the rest of us-would both invalidate our thinking and theirs. All they can say is that some thoughts are tainted and others are not. Lewis takes this and points out the problem that we cannot know which thoughts are tainted and which are not.

"Bulverism" is an attempt to point out flaws in reason and thought, by attacking the person's character, rather than stating the flaws in their reason. The danger of falling to Bulverism is that when Bulverism is used, you eliminate any possible discussion of thought and reason.

Lewis encourages us to first show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong, for "until Bulverism is crushed, reason can play no effective part in human affairs." He then continues to discuss that God created nature, and that only He is not limited by human understanding of thought and reason.

The essay "Bulverism" is closely related to "Meditation in a Toolshed" in that we must learn to accept humility, so we can accept that we may be wrong. Lewis does not advise people to always believe thoughts of others, but to not reject them merely because of who they are.

Meditation in a Toolshed

In C.S. Lewis' essay, "Meditation in a Toolshed", he describes a scene where a man is standing in a dark toolshed, observing a beam of light. The man then walks toward the beam and looks up along the beam, observing now leaves and the sun.

Lewis uses this description of the man and the beam of light to explain the difference between looking "along" something and looking "at" something. Looking at Lewis' explanation, we can better understand the importance of observing and experiencing. In this understanding, we come to realize that we need both observation and experience to fully understand the topic or subject being examined.

For without both, we cannot have a clear understanding of the subject. If experience is discounted to ensure unbiased accuracy, the logic and reasoning will still be incomplete because one cannot know about anything without at least once experiencing it, personally.

Lewis also points out the danger of throwing out experiences and thought as irrelevant because the that thought would become irrelevant and so on and so forth. What we, as humans, are looking for is absolute truth, which is found only in God. Just as the beam of light depends upon the sun, all things are dependent upon God for existence. Through Him, we learn wisdom and humility. Through our humility we then realize that we can only see in part, and know that God is in control-seeing the entire picture, as a whole.