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C.S. Lewis: The one thing Jesus is not -
The Spectator - UK ^ | December 17, 2005 | C.S. Lewis

Posted on 12/16/2005 11:31:42 AM PST by UnklGene

God sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. He also selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was — that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.

Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned; the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

This is an extract from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. It is reprinted with permission from C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd (CSL). All rights reserved. CSL has not otherwise approved the content of this publication or the views expressed herein and assumes no responsibility or liability for such content or views.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: bookexcerpt; cslewis; jesus; merechristianity
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1 posted on 12/16/2005 11:31:43 AM PST by UnklGene
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To: UnklGene

Wow.


2 posted on 12/16/2005 11:34:18 AM PST by Mr. Lucky
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To: UnklGene
The fuse is lit.

Run away or toward the hissing sound.

3 posted on 12/16/2005 11:34:26 AM PST by elbucko
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To: UnklGene

My favorite book on Christianity (other than the Bible). I re-read it at least once a year and never fail to gain new insight.


4 posted on 12/16/2005 11:35:31 AM PST by WayneM (Remember; "Saturday people first. Sunday people next.")
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To: UnklGene

"Mere Christianity" is one of the greatest apologetics for Christianity there is. When I was first coming to know Jesus several years ago, my wife (girlfriend back then) gave me "Mere Christianity" to read. I was blown away. Lewis has a relentless, steady, plodding, hammering way of making his points, and it leaves them irrefutable.

}:-)4


5 posted on 12/16/2005 11:36:32 AM PST by Moose4 (Liberals and vampires: Both like death, both hate crosses, and both are bloodsuckers.)
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To: UnklGene

One of my favorite authors, and one of my favorite passages. TKS for posting!


6 posted on 12/16/2005 11:38:44 AM PST by Mom MD
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To: UnklGene

Someone should send this passage to Bill O'Reilly. He's always talking about how he regards Jesus as "a great philosopher", and how Christmas, the federal holiday, is meant to commemorate Jesus, "the great philosopher". Sorry Bill....


7 posted on 12/16/2005 11:39:40 AM PST by Ozone34
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To: Moose4
Agreed. 'Mere Christianity' is a must-read.
8 posted on 12/16/2005 11:40:23 AM PST by dropzone
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To: Moose4
"Mere Christianity" is one of the greatest apologetics for
Christianity there is.


And, having risen out of short talks given on BBC radio during WWII
to a country casting off Christianity for the gospels of modernism and socialism...
...all the more timely for Americans after 9-11.
9 posted on 12/16/2005 11:40:39 AM PST by VOA
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To: WayneM

I recommend The Great Divorce.


10 posted on 12/16/2005 11:41:49 AM PST by Mercat (Tookie is toast)
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To: UnklGene

Thanks for sharing this; I get the feeling I'd really enjoy the book.


11 posted on 12/16/2005 11:44:31 AM PST by andyk (Fear my strategery of misunderestimation.)
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To: Mercat
I recommend The Great Divorce.

Another great one!

12 posted on 12/16/2005 11:46:08 AM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM - Being miserable for no good reason)
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To: dropzone
Must-read for sure. Many others have built on the "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic" argument, because it is so powerful. I also enjoyed his talk of virtues, and found his discussion on the "impersonal god" argument unparalleled.

My favorite of his will always be The Screwtape Letters, though. I have never read a more insightful and penetrating book in all of my life.

The only book he wrote that I was less than completely knocked over by (and I think I have read almost all), was That Hideous Strength. I loved the first two of the Space Trilogy, but felt the third was a little clunky, and the Merlin stuff rather lame. Nevertheless, one can't read two pages of Lewis without getting something great.
13 posted on 12/16/2005 11:48:01 AM PST by madconservative
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To: andyk

I reccomend it wholeheartedly.

A great Christmas present for yourself and your family.

Merry Christmas!


14 posted on 12/16/2005 11:52:56 AM PST by Eurotwit (WI)
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To: Ozone34
When BOR talks about Jesus that way, he is addressing it to the Christmas haters and secularists as a different way to think about Christmas.
15 posted on 12/16/2005 11:52:56 AM PST by PCBMan (Speedom!)
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To: madconservative
The only book he wrote that I was less than completely knocked over by (and I think I have read almost all), was That Hideous Strength.

Whoa--Hideous Strength fan here! I usually always carry a copy in my book bag, just to dip into once in a while. It has become an uncanny prophecy of the kinds of things that eventually began to happen during the 50-60 years after he Lewis wrote the novel.

But I'll agree it's hard to get into. In some ways, it's unlike other stuff that Lewis wrote.

I read somewhere that Out of the Silent Planet has been optioned for movies and the screenplay already being written. Can't wait till Perelandra appears on screen, though the nudity might cause a film-rating war.

16 posted on 12/16/2005 11:57:46 AM PST by Dunstan McShane
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To: madconservative

I love the book, and it it very dear to me...

However, to me, the "lord, lier, or lunatic" argument was among the weakest.

I have little problem with one person being nuts in one are, yet having great insights into another..

But, the book provided such a barrage of good arguments so that even if one round misses, others are bound to hit the mark.

And, apparently, the above excerpt for many was indeed powerful. And that is a great thing...

Cheers.


17 posted on 12/16/2005 11:57:52 AM PST by Eurotwit (WI)
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To: Moose4
And to think that Mere Christianity is a compilation of radio addresses. Who in our present world would be able to concentrate for thirty minutes to listen, much less comprehend, what Lewis was saying?
18 posted on 12/16/2005 12:00:23 PM PST by Chaguito
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To: Chaguito
Who in our present world would be able to concentrate for thirty minutes to listen, much less comprehend, what Lewis was saying?

The Lincoln - Douglas debates debates went on for hours. Ever read them? Talk about thick and complex. This is, people understood them.

19 posted on 12/16/2005 12:03:52 PM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor! '98'er)
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To: WayneM

I don't know Screwtape Letters are pretty amusing as well.


20 posted on 12/16/2005 12:08:16 PM PST by ThisLittleLightofMine
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To: Ozone34
O'Reilly is a Catholic. (thus)

I don't know what the percentages are of Catholics being "born again" but I doubt it is very high.

21 posted on 12/16/2005 12:08:21 PM PST by fish hawk (creatio ex nihilo)
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To: UnklGene

This was one of my favorite passages in Mere Christianity. The concept that you had to agree that Jesus was God or that he was a nutter had a great impact on me. I chose the former.


22 posted on 12/16/2005 12:12:12 PM PST by cammie
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To: UnklGene

"God sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men."

Uh-uh. God didn't send those notions of false gods.


23 posted on 12/16/2005 12:17:25 PM PST by RoadTest (Religion never saved a soul - that's Jesus' job.)
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To: fish hawk

What point are you trying to make? If you're a practicing Catholic, you believe Jesus is Lord and he died for your sins. And you say a prayer repenting your sins every week at Mass (The Confitior). If you don't believe that, you're not really a Catholic. These things seem to be very close to what happens when many born-again Christians are born again (seems to be similar to what happened at the last Billy Graham Crusade I saw). So if that's the definition of born again that you accept, then all practicing Catholics are "born again."


24 posted on 12/16/2005 12:18:21 PM PST by cammie
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To: madconservative

If I understand the tale correctly, the main characture in Hidious Strenght is Tolkein himself (Name changed of course). Lewis and Tolkien had a deal, one would write a Sci-Fi and the other a Ghost story, and find which would be more popular. Tolkien's ghost story lost, but, it did have Lewis as the protagonist (name changed of course)


25 posted on 12/16/2005 12:18:31 PM PST by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
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To: Mercat
Excellet book as well as The Screwtape letters.

I've been thinking about Lewis much lately, I think I'll re-read those two.

26 posted on 12/16/2005 12:24:56 PM PST by Bear_Slayer
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To: cammie

"Born Again" means that one states to himself and God that he accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Hoards of "Christians" have not done this. I know many Catholics and Protestants that have never done this. You wonder how I know, I asked them.


27 posted on 12/16/2005 12:28:53 PM PST by fish hawk (creatio ex nihilo)
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To: UnklGene
Wonderful!!

"MERRY CHRISTMAS!!"

redrock

28 posted on 12/16/2005 12:29:36 PM PST by redrock (They'll have to pry the words "MERRY CHRISTMAS"...from my cold dead lips.)
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To: don-o; Chaguito

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman is an excellent lamentation on this phenomenon.


29 posted on 12/16/2005 12:29:46 PM PST by TeenagedConservative
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To: WayneM
My favorite book on Christianity (other than the Bible). I re-read it at least once a year and never fail to gain new insight.

It has been one of the most influential books on my life.

30 posted on 12/16/2005 12:31:32 PM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: Ozone34
Someone should send this passage to Bill O'Reilly. He's always talking about how he regards Jesus as "a great philosopher",

Good idea. Who knows, it may even work.

31 posted on 12/16/2005 12:32:37 PM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: fish hawk
"Born Again" means that one states to himself and God that he accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Hoards of "Christians" have not done this. I know many Catholics and Protestants that have never done this. You wonder how I know, I asked them.

Indeed. God isn't going to judge based on catholic vs protestant. It's going to be 'accepted Jesus' or 'didn't accept Jesus'.
32 posted on 12/16/2005 12:34:10 PM PST by JamesP81
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To: fish hawk
I don't know what the percentages are of Catholics being "born again" but I doubt it is very high.

We've all been baptized, so we've all been "born again of water and the spirit."

Don't forget the Great Commission either: "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of..."

33 posted on 12/16/2005 12:35:27 PM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: JamesP81
You are right. Many think that sin or say, the lack of it is the ticket. But we know that "all have sinned". But, not to worry as Jesus died for ALL sin. Even the ones we will do today. Sin is not the question but this is: "what did you do with MY SON"?
34 posted on 12/16/2005 12:38:37 PM PST by fish hawk (creatio ex nihilo)
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To: TeenagedConservative

No doubt about it. Postman just nails it. A book that every consumer of the media should read. It's what, 30 years or more old? But, more relevent today than ever


35 posted on 12/16/2005 12:39:30 PM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor! '98'er)
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To: fish hawk

Here we go!


36 posted on 12/16/2005 12:40:07 PM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor! '98'er)
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To: Dunstan McShane
No offense!

It was definitely prophetic, but the Merlin stuff was too much for me. Mixing religion and sci-fi is enough for me; when you want to throw magic and Arthurian mythology onto it, it breaks this camel's back.

The extrapolation of the move from atheism to humanism, started with Westin in Perelandra is the best part of Hideous though. That scientist (forget his name) is a great bad guy, and very insightful.

I would like to see Silent in theaters, but IMHO you couldn't do justice to Perelandra's beauty on screen, even with all of the effects in the world. It would be like attempting to computer-animate poetry.
37 posted on 12/16/2005 12:43:36 PM PST by madconservative
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To: UnklGene

I remember the feeling of blunt force trauma when I read these words the first time. The man is right and I was a fool.


38 posted on 12/16/2005 12:46:29 PM PST by gridlock (eliminate perverse incentives)
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To: Conan the Librarian

Ransom is a linguist, and I could see other similarities to Tolkein as well.

I love the character, but I thought he was better in the first two.


39 posted on 12/16/2005 12:46:37 PM PST by madconservative
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To: don-o

HHMmmmmmm, where are you going?


40 posted on 12/16/2005 12:50:45 PM PST by fish hawk (creatio ex nihilo)
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To: Ozone34
Someone should send this passage to Bill O'Reilly. He's always talking about how he regards Jesus as "a great philosopher", and how Christmas, the federal holiday, is meant to commemorate Jesus, "the great philosopher". Sorry Bill....

Better tell George Bush too. Didn't he answer in a debate that Christ was his most admired philosopher.

41 posted on 12/16/2005 12:57:40 PM PST by LoneRangerMassachusetts (Some say what's good for others, the others make the goods; it's the meddlers against the peddlers)
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To: Ozone34
Someone should send this passage to Bill O'Reilly. He's always talking about how he regards Jesus as "a great philosopher", and how Christmas, the federal holiday, is meant to commemorate Jesus, "the great philosopher". Sorry Bill....

Better tell George Bush too. Didn't he answer in a debate that Christ was his most admired philosopher.

42 posted on 12/16/2005 12:59:03 PM PST by LoneRangerMassachusetts (Some say what's good for others, the others make the goods; it's the meddlers against the peddlers)
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To: fish hawk

We are born again at every Mass!


43 posted on 12/16/2005 1:04:07 PM PST by Sertorius (A hayseed with no Greek and dam^ proud of it)
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To: Sertorius
Every single Catholic in the world? You just go to Mass and no matter what you believe, you are saved?
44 posted on 12/16/2005 1:07:10 PM PST by fish hawk (creatio ex nihilo)
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To: LoneRangerMassachusetts

Except for one being a "great philosopher" is just the beginning while for the other it is the end.


45 posted on 12/16/2005 1:13:41 PM PST by conejo99
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To: LoneRangerMassachusetts

I think GWB should have said, without flinching:

"Wittgenstein. Definitely Wittgenstein."

And then wait to see what the journalist would offer as a follow up.


46 posted on 12/16/2005 1:14:45 PM PST by ConservativeDude
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To: UnklGene

My personal favorite
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

This tale of two princesses - one beautiful and one unattractive - and of the struggle between sacred and profane love is Lewis’s reworking of the myth of Cupid and Psyche and one of his most enduring works.


47 posted on 12/16/2005 1:15:07 PM PST by HangnJudge
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To: Eurotwit

I don't think the ability to compartmentalize is what Lewis meant there. He is not arguing that Christ, if only a man, could not have been inconsistent.

He is arguing against the rather common and condescending notion that Christ was a great, humble, moral teacher. He argues that Christ purposefully took this off the table as an option. His teachings were not humble (as in John 8:58, my favorite verse in all of scripture where Christ states that "before Abraham was, I AM!"), and if you listen to his words and believe that he was not the Son of God, you must decide whether He was a liar, or a nutjob. You cannot call yourself the Son of God, "I AM", and claim to exert the authority that Christ did, and be a good teacher, if you are not God.

Your counter-argument is logical, but Christ's positions and His rationale for the Authority to hold them are not easily seperated in the record. To do so, to strip away his divinity and look only at his more universally accepted moral teachings, He then MIGHT be a moral teacher, but I would argue, not a "great" one.

I think Josh McDowell expanded on this in "More Than a Carpenter", another must read for introductory Apologetics. My favorite author in Apologetics is a tie between Lewis and Norman Geisler. Geisler is more theologically learned, but Lewis far more poetic.


48 posted on 12/16/2005 1:16:31 PM PST by madconservative
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To: fish hawk

If this thread develops according to pattern, down a wore out road. The "born again" thing has been argued to death many times.


49 posted on 12/16/2005 1:18:58 PM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor! '98'er)
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To: UnklGene

Lewis was a true voice calling out to 20th century Christianity. He is my hero.


50 posted on 12/16/2005 1:19:36 PM PST by ShandaLear (Announcing you plans is a good way to hear God laugh. Al Swearengen, 1877óDeadwood)
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