Monday, January 26, 2009

The Inner Ring

Lewis gives advice to his juniors.  He warns us against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.  However, Lewis only advises on the World in this writing.  Lewis speaks of our desire to be included into an inner ring.  To be accepted into a human society is one of the greatest desires of man.  Lewis says, “But what of our longing to enter them, our anguish when we are excluded, and the kind of pleasure we feel when we get in?” To be excluded from the ring is probably one of the worse fears of many men.  To be alone is anguish to some.

 Lewis says sometimes inner rings are good.  Everyone needs an inner ring of friends in which they can hold confidences in one another. However, Lewis spends more time explaining how our pursuit to be in the inner ring can cause us to do bad things. Lewis says that good men can become scoundrels; they get sucked into a ring that they know will lead to bad outcomes.  Lewis puts it in a very good way, “And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world.”  Slowly it will get worse and worse, Lewis says week by week a little farther from the rules, until you become a scoundrel.  

Another problem that Lewis presents about the inner ring is that it is often times just our desire to be “in the know.”  We may get in, and when we do experience satisfaction.  However, such a satisfaction cannot last.  Once you are “in” most of the satisfaction begins to ebb away because you realize that it is not as good as you initially thought it was.  Lewis puts it in a good way, “The circle cannot have from within the charm it had from outside.” Happiness will never come from wanting to be “in” just for the sake of being “in”

Friday, January 23, 2009

Problem of Pain

I found the speech we listened to in class helpful.  The speaker said that it is not uncommon to understand only 10% of the book the first time.  I think I only understand 8% of it some times. 

There is a lot of controversy when we regard the pain that exists in this world.  If God is totally good and all-powerful, there should be only good in this world and not pain. The argument is against the God is that He must lack in power or goodness, because of all the pain in the world.  The speaker talked about the creation of man.  He asks the question of whether God made a mistake creating Man with free will.  I like how he says that we cannot answer this question; we cannot know God’s divine mind with our tiny human minds.  One thing that I know for sure is that God does not make mistakes.  I believe that God allowed man to fall, so that He could send His Son to die on the cross; what better way to cause praise to be given to Him, than to send His Son, Himself, to sacrifice Himself for his children’s sins.  However, I could be totally wrong, because only God knows the answer to this question. 

Something that is not talked about much is why pain was created in this world.  God used pain as a punishment against the human race for disobeying the Lord’s one command on our Father Adam and our Mother Eve.  Death is the end result for all humans because of our sin, but as the speaker and Lewis points out that sin is of our own free will. 

I like the example of Job.  God allowed Satan to torment Job, until he had nothing left but God; Job still refused to curse God.  God knew that Job would not, and He was glorified in Job’s faith.  God blessed Job with double of everything.  There are no temptations that we cannot overcome, because Christ has overcome all of them.  God will never give us something that we cannot overcome.  Our suffering is a punishment for the fall, but it is a small price to pay for the glory God will give us in heaven. 

If a friend dies, we mourn and we ask, “Why God, Why?”  I know because one of my friends died of a brain aneurysm during a fundraiser in my high school.  At first it hurt so bad, but then I realized that I was selfish.  My friend Paul, was God’s to take when He would; God took Him to heaven, because it was his time.  God does not operate on our time.  Besides, I doubt Paul is complaining, because he is already experiencing eternal glory.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Abolition of Man

“Abolition of Man” speaks a lot about Natural Law.  The Natural law is written in the heart, telling us what is right and wrong.

Lewis tells us that many of the different denominations, even if they vary a lot in regards to doctrine, they still retain many of the same principles.  All men know what is right and wrong.

Something that Lewis talked about that I found to be very interesting was about how the newer generation is weaker than the previous generation.  Our fathers invent certain technologies that they handed to us, and we would have a very hard time living without them.  Our grandfathers invented many things that they gave to their children that we could not even dream of going without.  The truth is that every generation is coming very dependable upon the previous generations ideas and inventions.  Where would be without Edison, who we all know invented the light bulb.  Sure, we have definitely improved on the system of electricity and lighting, but we would not have these improvements if the light bulb was not handed to the next generation to use and to study.  We never really think about this.  Fifty years ago twenty men had to tend to the fields and milk the cows, now we can get by with just one or two men, and a bunch of machines.  Man has become very proud of its Science, and its power over Nature. 

Man strives to manipulate everything to his own purpose.  Lewis talks about how man will keep gaining power over Nature until man finally gains power over Human Nature.  We all know that this will never happen.  Man will never be able to tame the wickedness in our hearts.  Christ’s death on the cross is the only way to destroy that old man of sin and renew the new man of regeneration.  At the end of this world, on the day of judgment, when Christ comes again, the Human Nature of man will finally be defeated.  All those who retain that sinful human nature will burn in Hell for eternity, and all those who have had that human nature destroyed by Christ will spend an eternity in heaven.


Plantinga: Ch 4

Sometimes I think we take what God has given us for granted.  We have become kind of desensitized to the amazing, selfless act that Christ committed for us.  He not only died on the cross, but he suffered his whole life.  He was persecuted and rejected by his own people.  They screamed that they would rather Jesus die than Barabus, one of the vilest men of his time.  What is even more incredible is that Christ suffered in hell for all of his children’s sins.  He paid for each and every sin; we could not even pay for one on our own, let alone every sin of all believers.  Often times we forget how big of a sacrifice Christ undertook for us.

In regards to this whole shalom idea, I do not quite agree with Plantinga.  Plantinga said,

“In the new age God’s people will respond with glad obedience, the rich helping the poor and the strong lifting the weak.  As God’s grace spreads across the land, the lame will begin to dance; the blind will gaze at a world they have never seen before; the deaf will hear the song of a lark.”
Maybe I am misinterpreting it, but from what it sounds like, Plantinga is saying that God will establish his new Kingdom on this earth; He will heal all of the sick and afflicted; He will create a lasting peace in this world.  There is no biblical proof for such a shalom.  The Bible tells us very clearly that this world will be destroyed, and made anew.  The new world will be perfect.  There will be no strong helping the weak or rich helping the poor; there will be no rich or poor, nor will there be weak.  The blind and lame, if they are God’s children, will experience a new world if they live to see the end of this world.  Plantinga’s idea of shalom sounds as if he is denying the coming of the Antichrist, and the persecution that the church shall endure.  I am an A-millennialist, so I believe in a figurative 1000 year reign of the church, which I believe we are in now.  Plantinga makes it sound as if the earth will get better and better.  The earth will only get worse and worse, if you do not believe me read revelations.  This past century wielded the worse persecution on the church, and it will only get worse.  There will be no shalom on this earth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Plantinga Ch 5

The first point that Plantinga makes is that God’s kingdom envelops everything.  Plantinga also says that we all have our own little kingdoms that expand and envelop more as we gain more responsibility.  When we are babies we have the rule of whether or not everyone else gets sleep in the house.  When you have you own house and pay your own bills, your kingdom is larger, because you have much more responsibility.  We have to remember that God’s kingdom envelops all of our little kingdoms.  Our kingdoms must fit in with God’s kingdom.  His kingdom determines what happens in our kingdoms.  We must never forget who is really in control.

Plantinga speaks a lot about how our vocation is to mesh our kingdoms with those of the other citizens.  I do not agree with this.  The Bible calls us to live the antithesis, and this mesh our kingdoms together is the exact opposite of the antithesis.  God’s children are to live apart from the world, not among them.

Later, Plantinga says “John Calvin even regarded government as a sign of God’s love for us, a means of grace, because it adjusts life in society toward civil righteousness and promotes ‘general peace and tranquility.’ “  John Calvin does not regard government as a form of grace but a “calling”, an holy, honorable, lawful, and sacred calling.  

The Four Loves: Eros

I like how Lewis made a distinction between wanting the woman and wanting the pleasures of that woman.  Now days many men pursue a women for the pleasure that she can provide rather than pursuing the women themselves.  They seek the Venus first rather than Eros. 

Eros is falling in love. Eros focuses on your love for the other while Venus focused on the lust of oneself.  Venus is more selfish because it is the carnal side while Eros is the romantic side.

Lewis states, and completely agree, that Eros should come first and then Venus.  Love and marriage should come before sex.  In our day this has been reversed.  The world encourages sex before marriage or even love.  If you do not believe me, just watch some of the popular movies today.  People meet someone, and then have sex on the same day.  The world places sex in its own separate category.  According to the world it is just a normal process in a teenagers life.

Lewis also speak of the respect a wife should show to her husband, but the thing that we cannot forget is that the husband must love their wife.  A husband should respect his wife and listen to her advice, because she is wiser in many ways. 

Adultery is a powerful weapon of the devil.  He wields Venus like a sword.  I have witnessed many people, even friends, fall to that sword and have sex before they are married.  I have heard God’s ministers’ letters of repentance for having been unfaithful to their wives, and commit adultery.  This temptation affects everyone from the lowest to highest Christian.  We must be wary of this sword, and lean on the Lord, for we cannot stand alone.

Learning in Wartime

Lewis asks why we spend all this time learning when there is a war going on amongst us.  He later answers by saying that  “Good philosophy must exist, if for nor other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”  We educate ourselves so that we can defend our faith against attacks within and without the church.  We have to remember that some heathens are vey intelligent philosophers, and we must be able to defend ourselves against these people. 

Another reason that I think it is good that we are educated is that learning about God’s creation is learning about God.  A Christian goal is to know God, and we can learn about who God really is by studying the world around us.

The Bible says, "Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."  When we are in a war we should put everything we have into fighting that war, whether spiritual or physical.  We have been blessed to be at College right now, and we should put everything we have into our education, because that’s what God calls us to do.  He placed us here so we should learn to the best of our ability.

Something that Lewis pointed out that I liked a lot was when he talked about how after his conversion his life did not really change.  His activities did not all of a sudden become “sacred” after his conversion.  This made me feel a lot better, because I have always felt that my life need some huge change in order to praise God.  I now better realize that my mindset is what matters.  If I do even the most trivial things in God’s name, I am still praising God.  It is not necessary to expect a revival, because we can praise God just as well in our daily lives.

I also like how Lewis explained that there is no middle ground, between doing a work for Christ or against Christ.  All our actions are either God-glorifying or sinful. Lewis says “All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest: and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not.”  This simply says that everything must be done in God’s name or it is a sin.  

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Plantinga Ch. 3

The first thing in this chapter that I felt Plantinga emphasized was that sin has become a habit in all men.  I think it is more than that. Plantinga also mentioned “near-compulsion”, I think, rather it should be just compulsion.  There is nothing near about it, we are drawn right in sin when we are conceived, as Plantinga pointed out, we are  “ ‘concieved and born in sin’ ”.

Plantinga says that sin interferes with “the way God wants things to be.”  I disagree with plantinga on this. I believe in predestination; I believe that everything is as God wants it to be.  Everything now is as it should be according to God’s plan, and there is nothing that can interfere with it, not sin, not even the devil.  All things now work to aid the church, and bring about the glorious return of Christ, which will signal the end of this world, and the creation of the new world.  We all know that the Anti-Christ is to come before our actual Savior.  This means that we will see an increasing wickedness and sin in this world until only a small remnant of God’s children remain.  Persecution will be at its worst, according to the God’s eternal plan, when our Savior will descend from heaven as a thief in the night, to save His children. 

Once again, Plantinga brings up common grace.  I still completely disagree with the doctrine of common grace because there are so many proofs in the Bible that speak against it.  Romans 8:6-8 says, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." If this verse is not enough go to Psalm 4:3, “ They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: There is none that doeth good no not one.”  Another thing that must be remembered is that we ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and that that day all humanity became totally dead in sin.

The Poison of Subjectivism

Once again C.S. Lewis has managed to deeper than I ever thought possible.  A lot of the things Lewis wrote made little if no sense to me.  It is hard for me to write on something that I only understood bits and pieces of.  To be honest I hardly even knew what subjectivism was at the end of reading the passage.

When Lewis speaks of values, he shows that it impossible to start from scratch with only our own experiences (this is subjectivism).  We always rely on traditional judgment of values.  In this regard C.S. Lewis shows that the questions never end.  When a reformer bases his values on biology, he may say we must act to preserve the species, Lewis can ask why the species must be preserved, then it is answered by falling back on instinct. "We have an instinct to preserve our species." Lewis would answer by saying who told us we had to obey our instincts.  Eventually all questions asked eventually lead to God, who was the beginning of all.  We all know that certain instincts are to be obeyed and others not.  Once again we live according to a preset standard.  We need to remember that the first person to write that standard was God.

I like the way that Lewis presents the problem of attempting to create a subjective value with two points.

“1)The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum.

2)Every attempt to do so consists in arbitrarily selecting some one maxim of traditional morality, isolating it from the rest, and erecting it into an unum necessarium.”

It is impossible to create a new value, because all possible values are already there.  When we try to create a new value we usually just end up setting that value up high than others.

I was very confused on a lot of what C.S. Lewis wrote in The Poison of Subjectivism, and I hope that I was not way off the mark, but it is quite possible that I got everything wrong.  I hope that in the discussion things will be clarified for me.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis says that there are no good or bad impulses, but there are good or bad reactions to an impulse.  You have two impulses when you see a drowning man crying for help: to run to safety, and to help the man.  Which instinct is stronger is usually the one you follow.  The Moral Law helps us to increase the strength of the impulse to save the man, rather than running away.

I do not quite agree with Lewis on this in the sense that there are no good or bad impulses.  If we have an impulse of committing murder it is wrong.  This excludes killing someone in war, because that is not murder.  Most of the sins we commit, occur in our thoughts and impulses.  Lust is a thought and impulse we all have at one point or another, and it is sinful thought.

C.S. Lewis says that all Christians essentially believe the same basic doctrines with many minor differences.  He tells us to look at what we agree on so that we can work together as a unified Church as opposed to a bickering Church.  I agree with C.S. Lewis in a sense.  It is true that the Church should not bicker much among themselves, because the world watches our every move and they glorify in our disunity.  However, we must be careful lest we allow heresy to creep into the Church.  Some of these small things that the denominations bicker about may lead to a bigger problem.  Once you start making certain concessions in the church, you may not be able to see where you draw the line.  As we recall in The Screwtape Letters, the devil works slowly, by gradually causing small changes that can in the end lead to bigger changes that can destroy the purity of the Church. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Screwtape Letters: Lukewarm Behavior

I liked this exert from the Screwtape Letters because it takes a perspective that I have never thought of before.  It is Sr. demon called Screwtape writing to his nephew.  He instructs his nephew on how to corrupt a certain Christian.  He tells his nephew to do it gradually, and slowly draw him away from God, because if he tried to do it to fast his patient would realize the trouble he was in and repent.  Screwtape encourages his nephew to make the patient sin little by little.  At the beginning he must just distract him from God, and eventually the patient will not even need a distraction to avoid Godly activity. 

The perspective that Lewis takes makes us aware of the danger we all face.  The devil will lure us away from God little by little so that we hardly even aware of the slippery slope that we are sliding down.  The example of Lot and Abraham was a good example of how this can happen.  Little by little Lot pitched his tent closer to Sodom, and closer to sin.  Little by little his children fell into the worldliness and sin of Sodom until they refused to leave when the angels came and warned them of the impending destruction.

We must be cautious, because these subtle changes that the devil causes us to make can lead to the utter destruction of our soul.  We must rely on the Lord, for without Him we cannot stand alone.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Engaging God’s World: Ch 2

I have a few disagreements with Plantinga over a few issues.  At one point Plantinga claims that we humans have certain unalienable rights. He says “ Sixth, the declaration, ‘Let us create man in our image’ implies a range of human responsibilities, including those associated with earthkeeping and creativity.  But it also secures rights, including the right to respect, the right to life, and the right to certain freedoms.  These are unalienable rights.”  I disagree with Plantinga about this.  I do not think that we have a right to anything.  If we ever had any rights they were lost in the fall.  We deserve nothing but hell.  We cannot claim any rights because no one can give us rights but God, and the rights Plantinga claims that we have are not biblically founded at all.

Another issue that I have has been a large theological issue for years; this issue is common grace. Plantinga speaks of how everything that God created in this earth retains some of its goodness after the fall.  I disagree with this statement.  As follows Calvin’s TULIP we are all totally depraved, which means there is no good left in us.  When Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he died spiritually and thus all his descendants inherited this spiritual death, “The day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”  The elect are only able to do good by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  This grace fills us with the Holy Spirit which allows us to do God glorifying works.  If the work is not done to the glory of God, then it is not a good work.  This is why the bandit loving his mother was not a good work.  I do not presume to say whether this bandit is saved or not, but Plantinga implied that he was a reprobate.  We must remember that our purpose on this earth is to glorify God in all that we do.  A wicked man could love his mother, yes, but he would not be glorifying the Lord in doing it.  We must remember that even our best works are shrouded in sin, and it is only through the grace of our Father in heaven that He sent His Son to the cross that He might purify the souls of the elect and thus allow our works to be pure.  The wicked do not have that gracious sacrifice, and thus they have black hearts that corrupt every work they do.  I do not see any evidence that the Lord has a common grace that he has given to all men.

The Weight of Glory

One of the things that I liked most about The Weight of Glory was the drastic difference that CS Lewis explains between those that are acknowledged by God, and those that are denied by God; the former gets eternal glory in heaven, and the latter gets eternal death in hell.

Lewis describes the promises that Scripture gives of heaven in five heads.  He then goes on to explain that the first head is the only one that really matters, because being with Christ is all the glory we could ever have.  All the other heads were symbols.  Being with Christ leads to the rest of all these glories.

I have also come to realize that Lewis ties many of his writings together.  Our English Syllabus talks about how some of things that we do not want to learn are the building blocks that lead to what we want to learn.  The Weight of Glory relates to this when Lewis explains that there are many things that we do in this life that does not seem at all related to the glory that we will receive in heaven, but in reality they put us on the path to that glory.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our English Syllabus

I found that CS Lewis emphasized learning for the sake of learning, because you want to.  Learning something you don’t want to, just because you are forced to is not the way that we should work.  If you are learning something that you want to, you can get so much more out of it. 

This is where Calvin College comes in.  Calvin tries to teach you a little bit of everything, and often times this extra knowledge leads a person to change their major, because they found something that interests them more.  Find what you like and then go deeper into it.

These Core classes may not always be fun, but they are the building blocks that we must set up in order to advance our learning enough to study what we want to.  You cannot easily study Greek mythology without first learning Greek.

We must take a different perspective on things in order to get more out of the studies that we do not like.  If you hate your English class you will not get near as much out of it as you would if you liked it.  If you do just enough to get by, you will unlikely enjoy the class.  You will only get as much out of a class as what you put into it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Engaging God's World: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of “Engaging God’s World”, Plantinga seems to emphasize the desire of longing that fills every soul; a desire for something more; something that material things cannot fulfill. This longing is met only through our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Only the Lord’s sheep ever have this longing fulfilled.  The reprobate’s hearts are hardened so that they hate God and His Son.  Romans 8:7 says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God.”  A fallen man does not want God. 

A point that I thought that Plantinga emphasized very well was that we are made for God.  God made us to serve him faithfully, that is the calling of every being on this earth from plant, to animal, to human.  We are to glorify God in everything that we do because that is what he made us for.

We Have No Right To Happiness

In this reading I think that CS Lewis emphasized that we have a right to pursue happiness as far as it follows Natural (moral) Law, and legal law.  I agree with Lewis but I think that he could have made his argument stronger if he directly linked God into this passage.  I think rather than Natural Law we should think about God’s Law.  We can pursue happiness as long as it does not contradict God’s Law.

Our purpose on this earth is to praise the Lord in all that we do.  If a family member dies we should praise Him because He has taken another saint under His wing and brought them up to their true home in heaven.  We are called to be happy in our praise to him.  I think that this is the only way we can have happiness, because God. is the sole source of happiness.  If a child of God has a loving relationship with his wife that makes him happy, it is only because God gave him that wife.  God should be praised for such a wonderful gift. 

Even when you are in a horrible situation you are called to be happy, to be otherwise is a sin.  As you may recall Paul and Silas spent time in prison together and happily praised God all the while.  We cannot show discontentment with what God has given us, this includes the trying times we all must face in life.  God will never place anything in our lives that we cannot overcome.

The question is whether we have a right to happiness.  I do not think that we do.  We are all sinful human beings, and the only thing any of us deserve is hell, let alone happiness.  However, because Christ died on the cross and took all of our sins away we have been given a right to everything, from happiness to eternal life.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


To be honest I do not think that I understood half of what CS Lewis was saying in “Bulverism” when I first read it. At times I felt like I understood what he was saying, then in the next paragraph I lost the meaning to the one before. Regardless, I think I still may have understood the jist of the exert, but don’t quote me on anything because I may be way off the mark.

One of the things I thought CS Lewis emphasized a lot was the fact that often times we naturally decide or assume that another person is wrong and try to explain why, without first actually determining whether that person is write or wrong.  This is Bulverism, and it is seen all over the world today.  CS Lewis use examples such as Freudianism and Marxism, and Capitalism and Communism.  The followers of these ideas are so convinced that the other is wrong they never stop to reason for themselves which is the most logical solution.

In order to get down to the truth we must purge Bulverism in the world today.  Lewis says that Bulverism eliminates reason.  Every person has a bias even if only slightly; this is the taint that Lewis refers to.  Because this taint corrupts every person, it takes away humility.  It is very hard to admit that you are wrong especially when you were so convinced that you were right.  If we lack humility it is hard to use reason to understand that you may be wrong. Lewis says it is better to get to the truth rather than to victory, even if it hurts our pride

In relationship to Bulverism, CS explains that you can only know something is certain if you figure it our youself: “Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is “wishful thinking.” You can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself. When you have checked my figures, then, and then only, will you know whether I have that balance or not.”  Without working thins out for yourself, you can never be sure whether someone else is right or wrong. Things cannot never taken as certainty at face value.

If I am wrong about all this, there is one thing I am sure of, that CS Lewis is a brilliant man.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Meditation in a Toolshed

When I read “Meditation in a Toolshed,” I was surprised at how deep CS Lewis went.  He described how in order to truly know what something is we must see it from both the perspective of the insider and the perspective of the observer.  Lewis used a number of different examples.  One of these examples was love.  A person who has never loved another will not quite be able to understand why one person may love another.  He may be able to see two people and say that they are in love, but how can he really know if he has never experienced love himself.

CS Lewis can really make you think about how you view others that have not grown up the same way as you; whether it be religion or just the your cultural life that you have grown up in.  After being raised a Christian I see Christianity as the obvious truth.  My beliefs do not seem strange to me, but they may seem strange to others, just as I may see their faith as strange or ridiculous.  What we must all understand about one another is that we were all brought up differently, that is why it is so hard to change a belief that someone has adopted from birth.

I think that CS Lewis does a great job of explaining to us that we cannot just observe or experience something to truly understand what that something is.  We must do both to attain full understand, at least as far as a human mind can understand anything.