At The Table

Thinking about Jesus, culture, and everyday life.

Tag: C. S. Lewis (page 1 of 3)

True Personality

Where do we find that true sense of identity and personality for which we so deeply long? We may look inward, thinking that we are the greatest and most complex beings that exist. We can set ourselves high on a pedestal. We can spend our whole life trying to prove to ourselves and everyone around that we are as good as we imagine.

Or we can see it slightly differently. We can see our personality as a reflection of the greater light from which which we get our being. We can see that we are vessels, and that the glory to which we strive cannot indeed be contained in this little world. We can see that our true greatness lies in the greatness of the One to whom we owe our breath.

Thus there are two ways to personality. There is the bondage of working hard to live up to the standard that we set for ourselves and hoping that it will deliver. Or there is the liberty of opening our doors to our need in our Maker, and letting him welcome us home. C. S. Lewis puts it this way:

“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”¹

 

 

 


  1. Beyond Personality, C. S. Lewis (1944).

A Cruel and Unjust World

If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? … for many years I simply refused to 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 any intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?’ But then that threw me back into another difficulty.

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 does not 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 is not a water animal: a fish would not 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 simply that it did not happen to please my fancies.

Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist— in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless— I found 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 that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.¹

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Our Truest Good

“For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him.”¹

Our greatest good is all that we really ever care about. Its the only reason we do anything. Its the fundamental reason in everything we do – we believe it will bring us good. Its the main reason we get up for work early in the morning when we would rather sleep. Its the main reason we take out the garbage. It’s the main reason we bend over backwards for difficult people and situations in life – because we believe that, at the end of the day, doing it will bring us more good than not doing it.

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Unpacking the Modern Myth

“The picture so often painted of Christians huddling together on an ever narrower strip of beach while the incoming tide of “Science” mounts higher and higher corresponds to nothing in my own experience. That grand myth which I asked you to admire a few minutes ago is not for me a hostile novelty breaking in on my traditional beliefs. On the contrary, that cosmology is what I started from. Deepening distrust and final abandonment of it long preceded my conversion to Christianity. Long before I believed Theology to be true I had already decided that the popular scientific picture at any rate was false.

One absolutely central inconsistency ruins it; it is the one we touched on a fortnight ago. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears. Unless we can be sure that reality in the remotest nebula or the remotest part obeys the thought laws of the human scientist here and now in his laboratory—in other words, unless Reason is an absolute—all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction.

They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based. The difficulty is to me a fatal one; and the fact that when you put it to many scientists, far from having an answer, they seem not even to understand what the difficulty is, assures me that I have not found a mare’s nest but detected a radical disease in their whole mode of thought from the very beginning. The man who has once understood the situation is compelled henceforth to regard the scientific cosmology as being, in principle, a myth; though no doubt a great many true particulars have been worked into it.”

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C. S. Lewis on Pain and Purpose

A couple of weeks ago, our youth group had a small cabin retreat, during which we took some time to think on the issue of pain and suffering. Here are some of the key quotes that I found incredibly insightful from C.S. Lewis on the subject. It is important to note on the outset however, that he is saying these things on the presupposition that we have established (see previous post) the reality of suffering in our world, the existence of a good and loving God, and therefore the reality of true purpose in our pain. Continue reading

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