C. S. Lewis Reading Mere Christianity Term Paper

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Lewis Christianity

Creation, Evil and Science in Christian Faith

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Christianity is based on certain principles of unbending faith. Within these principles are a wide variance of interpretations and approaches to observance. However, among the universal themes of the religion is a sense of assurance that the conditions of faith are not based on belief but based on knowing certain unshakeable truths. This is a view that is expressed by C.S. Lewis, an author famous for the decidedly Christian fantasy epic that comprised the Chronicles of Narnia series. In the present discussion, Lewis expresses this very same unshakeable sense of 'knowing,' when he argues that Christianity is a religion that one could not have guessed and in doing so, enters into the discussion from a critically flawed standpoint. That is, by arguing that the faith could not have been guessed, Lewis fails to characterize the religion from a perspective likely to resonate with the outsider. One lacking the same level of faith as expressed by Lewis might well find it quite rationally plausible to invent the things that are said to be 'known' by Christians. In fact, it may even be said that the outsider may possess sufficient objectivity on the subject to assess Christianity as having evolved naturally over a long enough period of time to more than likely owe its present day incarnation to some measure of guessing. Therefore through a brief assessment of the claims made by Lewis followed by a discussion on the themes of sin and Jesus Christ, the account here will show that contrary to Lewis' claim Christianity is based on some elements that are rationally plausible and therefore capable of having been guessed by an outsider to the faith.

C.S. Lewis on Christian Faith:

Term Paper on C. S. Lewis Reading Mere Christianity Assignment

Of greatest importance to understanding the claims made by Lewis is the fact that Lewis himself is not only highly religious but also identifies himself as a convert from atheism. He goes on to state that this conversion would actually provide him with greater clarity and objectivity in his religiosity. Lewis states that "when I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But of course, being a Christian does not mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic -- there is only one right answer to the sum; and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others." (p. 126)

These seems to correspond directly with the idea of Christianity as being beyond guessing because both this argument and the supposition above that 'there is only one right answer to the sum' make a rather confident statement of certainty that comes from a place so steadfast as to be perceived as knowledge rather than belief. For Lewis, the spirit of faith is such that it supplies one with a knowing that naturally illuminates the one true path. Lewis also expresses a type of security and comfort in the fact that that which he knows of God and nature is shared by the majority of people in history. To Lewis, this condition suggests at least a degree of likelihood that was higher than the likelihoods supposed by atheism, in its minority status. This also leads Lewis and others of a similar ideological disposition to a number of presumptive ideas from which all other forms of 'knowledge' extend. In the discussions here on creation, evil and science, we can see how critical root beliefs must instead be accepted as forms of knowledge in order for the logic of Lewis' initial statement to make sense.

Sin:

On this point, there is value in McGrath's text, which examines the values that give basis to the Christian narrative on human sin. Here, McGrath shows that Christian ideas about creation are centered on already existing 'knowledge' of God as the creator and as an entity of pure goodness. McGrath reports that this means God has vested a certain amount of authority in human beings to 'steward' his creation and that through this stewardship, we are dispatched with the entitlement to behave with goodness or with the freedom to behave with sin. McGrath says on this point that "creation implies God's authority over the world. A characteristic biblical emphasis is that the creator has authority over the creation. Humans are thus regarded as part of that creation, with special functions within it. The doctrine of creation leads to the idea of human stewardship of the creation, which is to be contrasted with a secular notion of human ownership of the world." (p. 45)

By claiming commitment to this idea, the Christian faith connects God's creation of the world with the creation of free will. In doing so, McGrath shows, the Christian religion has shown itself to be reliant on certain power structures that have impacted human beings for centuries. This connection between power structures and authority over individual moral hygiene has often been used to elevate human authority to the status of divinity. At points where the influence of the Church has been high on monarchies and governments, this has especially placed power in the hands of human hierarchies to determine and punish sinful behavior.

This suggests a critical motive for the view that extends from the text by Lewis. Here, Lewis argues that because of this connection between God's creation and man's free will, the dynamic between the infallibility of the latter and the apparent adherence of the former is immutable. Those acting in the authority of God, Lewis argues, are both free from sin and entitled to judge the sinfulness of others. Lewis states that "perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficult about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on." (p. 131)

There is a sort of transparency in these words though which suggests that they are designed only to rationalize the behavior of failing to question, and instead accepting unflinchingly, even implying that to question is itself a mode of sinfulness. This is perspective lends great power to the human structures which use the Christian faith and God to assume moral authority. We are thus told not to question them, suggesting that it is not so much that we could not guess Christianity or any other mode by which the world and universe have been created but that we are dissuaded from doing so for reasons of power dynamic.

In addition to the relationship between controlling sin and maintaining power hierarchies, this discussion touches on the question of how sin can exist at all in a universe created by an inherently just and good God. Here, we find that scholars will largely offer the explanation that while God is the creator of man, man is the creator of sin. Accordingly McGrath's text on Creation helps the reader to comprehend the difficulty of reconciling good and evil in a world created by a just God. McGrath's discussion on creation states that "the central issue relating to the doctrine of creation which had to be debated in the first period of Christian theology was thus that of dualism -- a view of the world which holds that there are two ultimately distinct principles, or spheres, such as good and evil, or matter and spirit. . . The doctrine of creation affirmed that the material world was created good by God, despite its subsequent contamination by sin." (p. 43)

This argument is useful to the present discussion for a number of reasons. The first of these is that it shows that there is a clear imperative for believers in the Christian religion to find explanations for real human patterns that fit within a certain understanding of the universe. By beginning from the basis position that there is an all-powerful God and that God is inherently good, addressing such questions as the occurrence of sin necessarily calls for the advancement of explanations falling within a certain conceptual framework. So with respect to the idea that the Christian religion's various phenomena couldn't possibly be guessed, there is actually reason to believe that the use of such a limiting framework might indeed have facilitated guessing within a certain mode of thought.

A second and very important point raised here by the McGrath text is that there were so many different points in the development, growth, spread and refinement of Christian faith, and additionally so many sects, denominations and offshoots of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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