Friday, October 15, 2010

"The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis (part 3)

[continuing my interaction with "The Problem of Pain," by C.S. Lewis]

How Can My Breath Stink If I Have No Nose?

C. S. Lewis asks, “why do men need so much alteration?” If the argument is that man has become bad through abused free will, then he must be able to use free will to become good. This means that the preaching of the good news (repentance by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ) is not good news at all. “Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis—in itself very bad news—before it can win a hearing for the cure.” Lewis present two principle causes for this faulty assumtion: first, doctrine has been skewed by focusing more on virtue and less on vice, more on kindness and less on wrath. Second, sin and shame have been redefined, which leads one to wonder: was Jesus death a mistake if all it took to fix man was a shift in focus and some simple redefinitions? Lewis likens this to the abolition of the nose, “that the smell of hay or roses or the sea should never again delight any creature, because our own breath happens to stink.”

Lewis exposes faulty thinking that remains still today [my response to these statements in brackets]:

1. “We are deceived by looking on the outside of things.” In other words, someone else is always much worse than I. [You are accountable for yourself, not others] ;

2. “Every person is guilty, so nobody is guilty.” [If you are caught speeding, the law hold you responsible because you were the one pulled over];

3. “Time cancels sin;” or, time erases the crime [This is what every rapist, murder and thief is hoping for—remember that if you find yourself a victim];

4. “Badness is excusable.” [see #3].

5. “Things are different now.” [What does history reveal about the cruelty of men and what is different: do people no longer lie, steal, murder or commit adultery?]

6. “We learn from our mistakes.” [So are we more or less cruel now than before? See #5]

7. “You can’t interpret the Bible moralistically.” [How can God be less moral?]

8. “I’m a victim of my ancestors. It’s not my fault.” [That won’t work in a human court of law, so why would it work when you stand before God?]

“Humility, after the first shock, is a cheerful virtue; it is the high-minded unbeliever, desperately trying in the teeth of repeated disillusions to retain his ‘faith in human nature,’ who is really sad.”

Warning: humility does not cause God to smile—it only helps man understand his helplessness.

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