Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interesting Thoughts from an Interview with C. S. Lewis

    The article "Cross-Examination", in the book Essay Collection and other Short Pieces, is the publication and compilation of various interviews with C. S. Lewis. In these interviews Lewis makes some interesting comments which I though worthy of sharing.

    Concerning salvation, C. S. Lewis said, "It is not enough to want to get rid of one's sins. We also need to believe in the One who saves us from our sins. Not only do we need to recognize that we are sinners; we need to believe in a Saviour who takes away sin. Matthew Arnold once wrote, 'Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread'. Because we know we are sinners, it does not follow that we are saved. (p. 553)"
    Salvation from sins is based upon our belief that Jesus is able to save us from our sins. It is one thing to know that the Bible says that Jesus is God and that by believing "that he is God and that he is raised from the dead" we will be saved from our sins; it is a step further (perhaps it would be better to say, it is a totally different thing) to belief what the Bible says, and to belief that it is for you. There is a distinction to be made between knowledge that an authority says X, and believing that the authority is saying the truth about X. It is the latter that saves, not the former.

    Concerning how to write well, Lewis says, "The way for a person to develop a style is (a) to know exactly what he wants to say, and (b) to be sure he is saying exactly that. The reader , we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean. If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him. (p. 555)"

    Concerning the relation between the Christian and everybody else, Lewis said, "Jesus Christ did not say, 'go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.' The Gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly opposed to the world. (p. 556)" Lewis is not saying, in this quote that non-Christian authors cannot speak the truth, or cannot be right about things. This is quite obvious because he says at an earlier point in the same article, "I do believe that God is the Father of lights - natural lights as well as spiritual lights (James 1:17). That is, God is not interested only in Christian writers as such. He is concerned with all kinds of writing. (p. 555)" This is in accord with the belief of the early church that all truth, regardless of where it is found, is God's truth, and as such can be procured, applauded as truth, and used to glorify God.

    Lewis also makes this interesting statement, in response to a question about what the future holds. "The great thing is to be found at one's post as a child of God, living each day as though it were our last, but planning as though our world might last a hundred years. (p. 557)" Taking advantage of each present moment, as Christ may return any time, but planning for your future, the future of your children, and the future generations that may come afterwards. Nobody knows when Christ will return, his return cannot be predicted. It is pointless to try to predict the end of the world. What is necessary is to live each moment as if it was your last, but to live wisely, planning for the future generations.