Archives For c s lewis

You must translate every bit of your Theology into the vernacular. This is very troublesome, and it means you can say very little in half an hour, but it is essential. It is also of the greatest service to your own thought. I have come to the conviction that if you cannot translate your thoughts into uneducated language, then your thoughts were confused. Power to translate is the test of having really understood one’s own meaning.

C.S Lewis in Christian Apologetics quoted in C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet

C.S. Lewis: A Life

Author Alister McGrath launches his new biography in Oxford on Thursday 2nd May

Alister McGrath’s new biography of C.S. Lewis, C. S. Lewis: a Life: The Story of the Man Who Created Narnia, has recently gone on sale.

To celebrate the launch of the book The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics are hosting a book launch at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford on Thursday 2nd May. See below for further details.

Alister McGrath and everyone at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics would love to invite you to the launch of his new book, C.S Lewis: A Life on Thursday 2nd May at 7pm at Blackwell’s Bookshop. For free entry, please email the RZIM office to confirm that you would like to attend.

There’s more info about the book launch on the attached flyer but you can ignore the £3 entry fee if you email us (as above).

C S Lewis: A Life has already had some great endorsements, including one from A N Wilson, who wrote what many regarded as the definitive biography of Lewis back in 1990:

There have been plenty of biographies of Lewis – I once wrote one myself – but I do not think there has been a better one than Alister McGrath’s.

If you have used Facebook for any amount of time it is possible you may have experienced some, erm, unhelpful emotions as a result of seeing everyone’s fabulous lives played out before your eyes.

Those holiday pics, the oh-so-perfect-marriage, the new job/house/car etc. All those status updates can leave you feeling just a little bit left out, a teeny bit unsatisfied.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about some of the issues surrounding Facebook:

For many, Facebook is less about looking up friends than it is about looking at friends.

The comparisons begin. Additionally, Facebook and other social media can quickly grow your ‘friends’ way beyond the amount of people you’d actually see regularly.

Rather than a way of catching up, Facebook can be one more way of keeping up. What’s worse is that now we feel the need to keep up not just with our closest friends and neighbours, but with hundreds of others whose manufactured updates continually remind us of how glorious life should be. (TDD)

Now hooked into playing keep up with an ever expanding group of aquaintances it’s all too easy to assume that the feed in Facebook is the new social norm. Those updates became our reality.

Most twentysomethings … treat Facebook images and posts from their peers as real. We don’t recognise that most everyone is keeping their troubles hidden. (TDD)

So, away with Facebook! Be done with social media and all will be put right! Or will it? What if, actually, Facebook is just the electronic stage on which we extend the games we play in the “real” world? Blaise Pascal, the 17th Century French mathematician and philosopher says this:

We are not satisfied with the life we have in ourselves and in our own being: we want to lead an imaginary life in the minds of other people, and so we make an effort to impress. We constantly strive to embellish and preserve our imaginary being, and neglect the real one.

Pascal continues:

And if we are calm, or generous, or loyal we are anxious to let it be known so that we can bind these virtues to our other being, and would rather detach them from our real selves to unite them with the other. We would happily be cowards if that gained us the reputation of being brave. What a clear sign of the nothingness of our own being not to be satisfied with one without the other, and to exchange one frequently for the other!

From Blaise Pascal Pensées

Facebook isn’t the problem, but it sure does highlight something ugly about our hearts, something that we try to suppress, deny, and look the other way from.

We can search high and low, online and and off, to taste satisfaction but ultimately it’s only find in one person: Jesus. We can follow all the paths of this world to their end – searching for love, happiness, wealth, success – and arrive at the destination only to realise they really don’t fulfil. And having exhausted every option we can think of we are haunted by an unmet desire, an appetite that can not be nourished from the riches of this world.

At this point it is C. S. Lewis who says it best,

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.

Whilst browsing theresurgence.com I came across this video from the 2010 Desiring God pastors conference.

John Piper, to whom I owe much, explaining the heart of C.S. Lewis and the impact Lewis had on his life. Fascinating viewing. It unpacked for me many things that I had felt about Lewis but could not put my finger on.

Last week I had the privilege of teaching in the DTS here in Maui. The topic was ‘Mere Christianity’. The week consisted of 15 hours of lecture on a variety of topics that are central to the Christian faith. At the core of it all we find Jesus. Without Jesus we have nothing, and with the wrong idea of Jesus we get everything messed up. So we looked at: who Jesus is (as fully God and fully man); how he dealt with sin; and how He takes us through the trials and is there for us in our temptations.

The title of the week was ‘borrowed’ from the classic apologetic work by C.S. Lewis. In his book, Mere Christianity, Lewis makes this argument which calls us all to answer this question: ‘Who is Jesus?’

“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 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.” – C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

Jesus himself challenged his disciples to answer the question of who he was (Matthew 16:13-16). We, like his disciples, have to answer this question. We can not afford to get this one wrong. So we study, in humility, and look at the evidence to answer for ourselves, who is Jesus?

What Did Others Say of Jesus?

In examining the Bible we can look at what is said of Jesus by others. We see, upon inspection, that John calls Jesus the “Lamb of/Son of God” (John 1:29,34); Andrew calls Jesus “Messiah” (John 1:40-41); Nathaneal calls Him “Rabbi” (John 1:49); the Samaritans, “Savior of the world; (John 4:42)” Peter calls Him “Lord” (John 6:68-69); and Thomas says, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)

These are all pretty bold claims. Calling someone/something God that wasn’t God was clearly forbidden, with the penalty for blasphemy in Jewish society being death. We see however that a number of lofty titles were attributed to Jesus by his followers.

So What Did Jesus Say?

It’s one thing for a few guys to call Jesus a few names. I’ve been called more than a few names and not all of them are true! Nor would I call myself what some other people call me. So let’s look at what Jesus said of himself:

He claims to be: “The Messiah” (John 4:25-26); “The bread of life” (John 6:33-35); “The Light of the world” (John 9:5); “The gate for the sheep” (John 10:7); “The good shepherd” (John 10:11); “God’s son” (John 10:36); “The resurrection and the life” (John 11:25); “Teacher and Lord” (John 13:13); “The way, the truth, the life” (John 14:6).

Jesus himself quiet clearly claims a number of lofty titles too. On top of this, Jesus goes so far as claim to be God, which we will now see.

What Did the Religious Leaders of the Day Say?

In John 10:22-33 we see the religious leaders ask Jesus clearly about his identity. In v.31, upon hearing Jesus, the leaders “picked up stones to stone him” (John 10:31). They didn’t even wait to hear any more evidence. Clearly Jesus was guilty of a crime punishable by death. What heinous crime could this have been? Verse 33 states it explicitly for us, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God. (John 10:33)”

The religious leaders understood that Jesus was claiming to be God and for this reason Jesus was to be killed.

Jesus as God

In the Old Testament God reveals himself to Moses as “I AM” (Exodus 3:13,14). In John’s gospel we Jesus call himself by the same name (John 18:4-6). Some English translations will add “he” to this, i.e. ‘I am he’. However, a study of the original language (Greek) does not show ‘he’ to be there (ego eimi).

As well as this we see the author of Hebrews claim Jesus to be the “exact representation” of the Father (Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus, Fully Man

In one of the great mysteries (of which there are in total several) of the Bible we see that as well as Jesus’ claim to divinity he is also recorded as fully man. We see that one of the earliest promises of Jesus given in Genesis states that he would be born of a women (Genesis 3:15) and this is corroborated in the New Testament (Mark 6:3).

We read that Jesus experienced a full range of human emotions such as: stress (John 13:21); happiness (John 15:11); and sorrow (John 11:33-35). Luke (a physician by profession) records Jesus’ body (post-resurrection here) as being like any other normal body (Luke 24:39).

We see in Hebrews that Jesus was tempted as a man was (Hebrews 4:15). I will examine this aspect of Jesus later on as we look at trials and temptations in out lives and how we can have faith in Jesus who went through what we’re going through now.

Finally, Colossians states for us that Jesus was God as a man (Colossians 2:9).

Your Witness

The evidence has been brought before us. We are each responsible for answering the question of Jesus’ identity. Upon our answer lies our hope for our salvation. Jesus may mystify us at times. We may not understand all of his actions, nor fully fathom the depths of his teachings. But we must, absolutely must, understand and comprehend his nature and his mission. When we get Jesus wrong, we get everything wrong.

So who do you say Jesus is?