C.S. Lewis The Final Interview 1963

Sherwood Eliot Wirt interviewed C.S. Lewis in 1963. Lewis would go on to meet the Lord 6 months later so these are some of his last thoughts. I thought that some of them were very applicable to our own day and wanted to post portions of the interview here.

Wirt: In your book Surprised by Joy you remark that you were brought into the faith kicking and struggling and resentful, with eyes darting in every direction looking for an escape. You suggest that you were compelled, as it were, to become a Christian. Do you feel that you made a decision at the time of your conversion?

Lewis: “I would not put it that way. What I wrote in Surprised by Joy was that ‘before God closed in on me, I was offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice.’ But I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object rather than the subject in this affair. I was decided upon. I was glad afterwards at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun and we’ll talk.’”

Wirt: That sounds to me as if you came to a very definite point of decision.

Lewis: “Well, I would say that the most deeply compelled action is also the freest action. By that I mean, no part of you is outside the action. It is a paradox. I expressed it in Surprised by Joy by saying that I chose, yet it really did not seem possible to do the opposite.”

Wirt: What is your opinion of the kind of writing being done within the Christian church today?

“A great deal of what is being published by writers in the religious tradition is a scandal and is actually turning people away from the church. The liberal writers who are continually accommodating and whittling down the truth of the Gospel are responsible. I cannot understand how a man can appear in print claiming to disbelieve everything that he presupposes when he puts on the surplice. I feel it is a form of prostitution.”

Wirt: Do you believe that the use of filth and obscenity is necessary in order to establish a realistic atmosphere in contemporary literature?

Lewis: “I do not. I treat this development as a symptom, a sign of a culture that has lost its faith. Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse. I look upon the immediate future with great apprehension.”

Wirt: Do you feel, then, that modern culture is being de-Christianized?

Lewis: “I cannot speak to the political aspects of the question, but I have some definite views about the de-Christianizing of the church. I believe that there are many accommodating preachers, and too many practitioners in the church who are not believers. 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.

“The case against Christianity that is made out in the world is quite strong. Every war, every shipwreck, every cancer case, every calamity, contributes to making a prima facie case against Christianity. It is not easy to be a believer in the face of this surface evidence. It calls for a strong faith in Jesus Christ.”

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These Have no Root

My devotions pick random verses each morning and evening, but sometimes it is amazing how random verses can speak to the current topics of the day. My recent posts have been about Lectio Divina and the abuse of the 4th point regarding contemplation by the emergent movement that caters to the postmodern culture. Then I find myself reading Luke 8:13-16 and I had to smile a little bit due to the irony of it. In other times I might have gone in a different direction with the text, but the application was quite evident this time.

This passage of course is set in the context of Jesus telling his disciples the parable of the sower. In the verses leading up to this passage He explains to them that they have been given the ability to see the truth in the parable where others have not. It is evident in scripture that God must reveal truth before man is able to receive it. I started wondering if people that claim to hear Jesus speak to them really do. It isn’t my judgement call to make, who am I to know what people are experiencing? Maybe the people at the 2012 Passion Conference that were told Jesus spoke to them and raised their hands to confirm really did hear him?

Thankfully it is not up to me to make the judgement call, I think the Bible itself is pretty clear on this subject and the passage in Luke can help us.

The seed is the Word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. As for that in the good soil, they are those who hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

I like Spurgeons remarks on the passage

To receive the word in the ear is one thing, and to receive Jesus into the soul is quite another; superficial feeling is often joined to inward hardness of the heart, and a lively impression of the word is not always a lasting one.

I think that we have to be very careful in how we “hear” the Word of the Lord, not because I say so, but because the Bible itself does. Does the word when heard bear fruit with patience in an honest and good heart? Is there anything superficial about it that creates pride in the heart? I hope that everyone would examine themselves when claims are made that the “voice of God has been heard” and make sure that Biblically it is so.

Another day of reflection

Yesterday was a hard day for many as America remembered the 9-11 tragedy. We have heard the many stories of how God used that tragedy for good from the mouth of the survivors and their families. We understand that evil does not emanate from God or he could not be God, and we also see God’s work more clear through tragedy when the contrast between good and evil is most evident.

I take this thought to September 12 2011 which is the 19th anniversary of my Dad’s death. Not even a year before this incident my grandfather who had a big hand in raising me had also passed away. Ironically I am 38 which means I have lived half of my life, and basically all of my adult life, with no earthly father figure providing guidance and answering questions.

These last 19 years began with a new introduction to a heavenly father, alone on my bunk bed thousands of miles away from anyone I knew. Since that time I have been on a journey to understand and know Him as best as I possibly can and He, both through his own words and working through many other men that I am grateful to for their writings and discussions, have kept me grounded in knowledge and faith.

However I can’t forget how the journey started, through the untimely death of the two men I relied on up to that point for most things. Something that I now look back on and know was necessary to get me started down the path I have been on for half of my life.

It hasn’t just been me either, and of course this isn’t all about me. This is about God and how He works, something that is hard for us to see until we look back and reflect on our lives and the lives of others. Something that many people across America have done over the course of the last 2 days. To all of us who are thinking about lost loved ones today I say to you the same thing that Joshua said to his family when they found him in Egypt after selling him into slavery, they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

Bad things happen to innocent people because the world is fallen and evil exists. The Bible says that God allowed evil to exist as a result of creating finite beings capable of love and doing good, but also capable of hate and doing bad. How can one know love if hate is not available, or as C.S. Lewis said, a man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of what a straight line is. Therefore a world with life and love is a world with death and hate and the two are inextricably tied together. “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you will find that you have excluded life itself” – C.S. Lewis.

God is the greatest thing we can think of, so he is omniscient and knew all of this, he is omnipotent so he could create all of this, and He chose to do so even though knowing that evil and death would come of it because being omnipotent does not mean anything can be done, but that anything possible can be done. So the question isn’t why does evil exist, but why do any of us exist at all. Nobody knows the answer to that question of why God created at all, but I am positive that all of us that are alive are glad he did even through our tragedy of death and suffering.

Through all of this we know that the death and suffering of those we love never goes in vain, but is worked out to the good of the God who created the world. I am thankful for the time that my father and grandfather had with us, and the impact they had on the lives around them including my own. I am also thankful for all of the stories of courage, love, and grace that have come out this week as a result of the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of 9-11. How appropriate it is for the Christian faith to show us life through the death of Christ.

My thoughts for the day…..Finally….God and 9-11

Wow, it has been a busy 3-4 months with moving, working and writing papers for my MAT. I have not had any time to write here on my blog. Now that I have the move behind me I should have some time to write, and possibly incorporate some of my writings for the MAT here as well.

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of 9-11. I still remember the day vividly. It has been wonderful to listen to the stories from those who survived that dreadful day. It leads me to the story of Joseph and his brothers and specifically this verse in Genesis 50:20

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive

God and Hell

One of the main objections that many non-believers have, and many Christians struggle to explain, is how God could create Hell and send people there. By no means do I think that I can answer this in a short blog post, but I can at least give a brief summary of my explanation that I think has Biblical support. Most of this was my latest response to a fellow blogger who is struggling with the idea to the point of rejecting God completely.

Based on my studies I think that God wanted to create beings that voluntarily (at least in their own mind) loved him. This would mean that they would also have to be allowed to voluntarily reject him. I don’t suppose it possible even for God to create a being that could freely love but not freely hate. (I am purposely staying away from the Calvinist-Arminian debate over free will here because we all make conscience decisions in our own mind that are seemingly not forced).

The Bible tells us also that God is Holy and can’t be sinful or have sinful beings in his presence. The story of Moses asking to see God and God telling him he would surely die if he was to show his fullness is just one story that supports this out of many. God is also outside space and time and therefore eternal and all knowing.

With all of this in mind, and I believe Biblically supported, we could draw a conclusion that God could only create man with the ability to love him without force if he allowed sin (anything other then choosing and living for God) to be a possibility, ultimately knowing that these beings would give in and cause eternal separation and subject to God’s wrath.

So one could say that God should have never created us in the first place, and to me that would be a better argument then saying that you don’t want to believe in a God that would create hell. However if he never created then you or I or anyone else would have never lived, loved, cried, felt pain, or had the ability to receive eternal love from a Holy God. If you believe that God should never have created you or I as a better alternative then I would disagree but it is a concept that would be more difficult to argue against.

But that is speculation since God did create man, and he gave him grace for a time so that they could enjoy, or feel pain voluntarily (or in some cases involuntarily) in a corrupted and sinful world. He also gave some eternal grace to live with him forever through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. And although He knew who they would eventually be, forcing them in their own minds to accept was not an option for God or we would just be robots, so the place was made that would be eternally separated from God’s grace and love, and therefore subject to his Holy and Just wrath, for the first deceiver (Satan) and those who freely (in their own minds) rejected Him.

I think that in the mind of God (Which I can’t say I know or understand but am just taking my best shot based on the Bible which is our only way of knowing God in this life) It would be worth it to Him to have just one creature he created freely accept and love him now and eternally if it meant that the rest of the human race was separated from him and so He created us knowing that many more would be saved.

I am reminded of the time of Noah when God was ashamed of the entire human race that he created and was going to condemn it completely, but then he was able to find favor with one man and I think that it pleased God that one would be saved out of all the evil in the world.

This is the positive picture of God that I have instead of the positive picture of God that I think many Christians want to believe which is that if God is love He couldn’t send anyone to hell, or the negative view of God that many A-Theists and Agnostics share that if there was a God at all in the Christian view He is a malicious tirant running around casting good people into Hell. Neither of these views are supported by the Bible although I think that my view can be. I could also be completely wrong of course, but this understanding gives me much more appreciation for what God has done for me and all who believe and allows me to grasp his love for creation and his desire that all would be saved.

The Difference Between Peter and Judas

Growing up in the Church as I did I had heard the stories of both Peter and Judas. Peter was of course one of closest apostles to Christ and one of the leaders, and some would even say the beginning, of the early Church after Pentecost. Judas on the other hand walked with Christ and was one of the twelve but betrayed Jesus in the end and committed suicide. Because of this as a young person I always viewed Peter as the good guy and Judas as the evil one, but what really was the difference?

Well first we can see similarities, one already stated that they both were part of the 12 apostles that walked with Christ, but they also both betrayed Christ. Peter denied Christ three times and declared that he did not know him. Judas conspired with those that sought to crucify Jesus for money. Christ also predicted both of these incidents telling Peter that he would deny him, and telling Judas to do what he must do quickly.

However there is a clear difference in the way Christ approaches and sees Peter and Judas. We see this difference within the similarity above because even though Christ predicts both betrayals he tells Peter that he will be praying for him. We see this in Luke’s account chapter 22:31 where Jesus says “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.

So what is the prayer of Jesus like? We see an example right after this encounter with Peter but before His arrest. It is called the high priestly prayer of which I have taken some excerpts from as follows. John 17:6(ESV) – I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Verse 9 – I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Verse 12 – While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the scripture be fulfilled.

It is clear I think that the difference between Peter and Judas primarily is that Jesus prayed for Peter as he told him he would and there was no prayer offered for Judas. It is also clear that all that were given by the Father were kept and that Judas was not, specifically for the purpose of the fulfillment of prophecy. Judas was not kept and then lost, but Judas was always lost or “destined for destruction” as the Hebraism goes. Judas was part of the “world” that Jesus says he is not praying for and is therefore sifted like wheat as Peter would have been had Jesus not interceded for him on his behalf.

Later in the prayer Christ includes all those who will be saved that are also given of the Father because of His love for the Son before the foundation of the world. Further clarification is given in verse 25 where Christ says “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.” It is for this reason that one day Christ will say to those who reject him “depart from me for I never knew you”. Christ does not lose who the Father gives and unless the Father gives He never has a relationship with you.

The difference between Judas and Peter and the prayer of Jesus himself to the Father before his sacrificial death helps us further understand the triune relationship between the God head and to man and how God is glorified from it.