Posts Tagged ‘C.S. Lewis’

Comfortable Christianity

The devil is an interesting character. Many Christians believe that the devil is constantly out to get us, to show us things that will shake our faith in Christ. While it’s true that those kinds of things do happen, we often forget that Satan is a master of deceit. His best weapons against those who have already accepted Christ as Lord and Savior are not shocking things. No, as C.S. Lewis so eloquently captured in “The Screwtape Letters,” the easiest weapon to use against Christians is COMPLACENCY.

Think about it for a minute. The devil’s already lost the war for your soul. What does he have left? The truth is that the best thing he can do with you is keep you from leading others to the truth. This is a victory that the devil has had over me personally for a really long time. I was immersed in “comfortable Christianity,” where I know I’m saved and everything’s peachy. I go to church, pray to Him, read my Bible occasionally, and generally understand what it means to be a Christian. He’s doing the “sanctifying work” in my heart, so I’m on the straight and narrow path to an eternity in heaven. Sounds great, right?

Until recently. Things have been happening that have moved me at the core of who I thought I was. Scripture doesn’t call us to complacency; we’re to act on our knowledge! James 1:22 says, “But don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves.” Jesus Himself made an allusion to it when He said in Luke 8:16, “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” While His direct reference is to the idea that everything we’ve done will be brought to light, it also is telling of what we will do with the light that we have found. Will we keep it under our bed, safe and secure but helping no one? Or will we let it shine? Will we go out and give it away so that others can see?

Jesus goes one step further. In Luke 14:34-35, He tells us what our faith is like if we don’t act on it: “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” Faith without works is dead; it’s not even worth using on manure!

Doesn’t it feel like “comfortable Christianity” is losing its saltiness? Are we really any good when we’re reactive and not proactive? How often does the phrase, “Let me know what I can do,” escape from your lips? Too often from mine, that’s for sure. Imagine how we could change the world if instead of asking what we could do to help, we were the ones suggesting help or just picking up a shovel and doing the work without any mention.

The time has long passed in each of our lives to keep our Light hidden. He is out there working, and He’s leaving us in the dust. If we really want to emulate Christ, then lets be doers of the Word, and not just hearers. Let’s let go of our complacency, and not let Satan win any battles just because he lost the war. Let’s change our aim from “Well done, good and faithful believer” to “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The reward is infinitely great; give that reward to someone else today.

Opposition to the Moral Argument

Recently I have found myself in several discussions with atheists based on a variety of topics. I have stumbled on the “Blessed Atheist Bible Study,” where atheists go through the stories of the Bible and attempt to show inconsistency and laugh at how foolish they think it all sounds. I had the privilege of refuting one such consistency from the author of a book called “Disproving Christianity: Refuting the World’s Most Followed Religion.” I have come upon the blog post from an atheist who is not scared of death but assumes that many religious people are. I have discussed the rational nature of atheism. Yet in all of these instances, it seems the discussion has boiled down to the Moral Argument for the existence of God.

And why should it not? Morality is at our inner core; Christians know this to be our souls. We can’t see it, can’t touch it, but we know it’s there. In fact, everyone knows it’s there, because everyone believes in some form of morality. Even the most inconceivable of people who thought that murder was not wrong would still be enraged with a sense of wrongdoing if someone murdered their own child. Morality is a part of everything we actually do, because it is the innate governing body (given by God) of what we should and shouldn’t do.

So what do those who don’t believe in the existence of God say in opposition of the argument for objective moral values? Here are several that I’ve heard:

“Morality is based on a consensus of society.”

This sounds a lot like many of the laws we have today. Things are wrong because the law says and most people agree that these laws are good. The problem inherent in this argument is that different societies can have different opinions on what ought to be done. For instance, some societies say that polygamy is perfectly acceptable, other societies say it is absolutely wrong. One society in particular found it perfectly acceptable (by consensus, of course) to attempt to exterminate an entire race of people in what we call the Holocaust; many other societies decry this as pure evil. But if it is a societal consensus that determines morality, then someone injecting their morality on you is perfectly acceptable, for they are acting completely within their moral code. They are not violating their morality, so any act they perform, regardless of whether right or wrong in your own society, is OK. But if someone’s society says you ought to kill all blonde people and this is moral, and you are blonde, you might take exception to this if they came after you; you might even say it’s wrong. But if it’s not wrong in their moral code, then they are technically right in killing you. So morality based on societal consensus really doesn’t make sense.

“Anything that causes suffering is immoral,” or “Suffering is the measuring stick by which we determine right and wrong.”

This one actually sounds OK at first, because it allows for objective morality and suffering is seen as a universally wrong act. But this one consists of a logical inconsistency as well. First, on whom is the suffering placed for it to be immoral? For example, if someone were to attempt to kill a woman, but that woman killed that person in self-defense, is she committing an immoral act? It would definitely cause suffering for the person dying, as well as the dead person’s family and friends, so it would have to be considered immoral to defend one’s self.

But let’s take it a step further, and this is the argument I presented in response to this as well. Suppose a baseball game is tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth. The big power hitter for the home team comes up with two outs and smacks a game-winning home run off the opponent’s best pitcher. By doing this, he unleashes a huge celebration among his teammates and his fans. Unfortunately, he has just committed an immoral act and must therefore be condemned. Why? Because he caused suffering in the form of shame and disappointment for the pitcher, the opposing team, and all of the opposing team’s fans. It would also be an act with a relatively greater level of immorality than just killing the one person in self-defense, because the home run inflicted suffering on so many more people. I’m being sort of facetious here, but the logic to this argument is pretty ridiculous when you break it down.

“Morality has evolved over time and is based on current culture and circumstances.”

This one was particularly interesting, because this subjective morality came from someone who was trying to say that the Bible is inconsistent because God was evil in killing innocent Egyptians in the final plague of Exodus. However, if right and wrong change over time and are based on the current culture and societal norms, then we can make no judgments about the past in a moral sense. In this sense, everything done in history could be moral, so we can’t really condemn any acts we’ve seen in history. The persecution of Christians would be OK, the persecution of atheists would be OK, the slavery of Africans would be OK, because at that time the “current morality” could have allowed for this to be OK. This also means that not only was Pharaoh justified in enslaving the Israelites, but God was justified in committing an act in direct opposition. Both sides of the coin are OK in the past, because we can’t judge them based on our current morality, since it has evolved over time.

The second part of this one is whose morality we’re talking about here. My sense of what is moral in my culture is very different from the gentleman who put forth this argument, so which one of us evolved correctly? Did I not evolve properly, and so my morality is not really morality unless it agrees with his morality? If it is neither of us, then what is the measuring stick for the morality of the culture? If culture is the measuring stick, then it has to be independent of individuals, in which case we would all be subscribing to objective morality based on culture, which then begs the question of the past. It is a self-defeating argument.

Ultimately, there is no good answer to the Moral Argument, because there are objective moral values, and we all know it. They are based on what C.S. Lewis calls the “Tertium Quid,” or a Moral Law-Giver that transcends time and culture, so we can judge things once and for all as right or wrong based on this Moral Law-Giver. So if you are a believer in God, this should give you confidence moving forward that we have a great God that not only transcends time and space, but also is willing to give us a part of His nature to guide us as a compass discerning what is right and what is wrong, based on His nature. If you are a skeptic, what is your criticism of the Moral Argument?