Monday, October 20, 2008
Mere Christianity & Repentance
We are reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis in our singles small group at Church. I am enjoying this book more than I could have ever imagined. Lewis, in my opinion is one person I would label as a genius regarless of what his IQ may have been. He thinks so deeply on things that most men would never even think about thinking about.
Another reason I am loving this book is the way he describes or explains topics or arguments to us that are often very difficult to explain. Some of these "arguments" are ones I have thought of myself but could never figure out how to put into words. Here, Lewis makes it seem so easy. Like Olympic skaters make ice skating seem like the most natural & easiest thing in the world, Lewis makes Christianity seem like the easiest & most obvious decision to make & "argue."
I am only about 1/3 of the way into this book but he has revisited issues of Christianity that either I have heard & accepted all my life or that I have never really considered having been raised in the church & never considered another religion. I wasn't ever taught not to question our religion or God, but there were just some things I never thought about questioning. Lewis, being an atheist most of his life, did question these things. In fact, the way he came to Christianity was that he was trying to disprove it to his friends.
Mere Christianity is pretty much a starting point for anyone interested in apologetics & I think it is a great place to start. Apologetics is defined as defending some argument or belief. I use to have a problem with this word. "Why should I be apologizing for my beliefs?" However, that is not what the word means. It actually comes from the Greek word apologia (απολογία), which means, speaking in defense.
I think many apologists some how vere away from this basic definition, however. I believe they move from defending their views to attacking others for theirs. I'm not against evangelism but I also am not for beating people over the head about it or attacking them for their beliefs or making them feel stupid or uneducated because they don't believe the same way I do. Having said that, I do feel that it is every Christian's responsibility to know what & why they believe what they do & be able to explain those beliefs if ever asked or confronted about them. This just isn't my opinion, that is what the Bible tells us; "...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence..." 1 Peter 3:15. See? Told you so. :)
I think this is especially true in today's world. As technology advances, our world is growing smaller. We are coming into contact with more people of differing view points than ever before. And, people are curious, skeptical, & fear what is unfamiliar. Not only that, but many have been taught incorrect ideals of other religions & cultures. We must know what we believe & be able to explain it to others in a nonjudgmental way. Not only so that the others may understand & prejudices can be broken but also for ourselves so that we do not fall for just anything. Just as some great person once said (there are differing ideas on who said it), "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." Also, many people already view Christians as ignorant so we should know what we believe, why we believe it, & how to intellectually explain these without "talking over people's heads."
All that said, the whole point of me writing this is to talk a little about what I just read in the book. I really thought this would be a short entry...whoops...oh well.
In chapter 3 of Book II of Mere Christianity, Lewis writes, "Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person -- and he would no need it." I think that is a wonderful explanation of repentance. Those few sentences made me look at the whole thing with new eyes.
I think this chapter has been the best yet. I would encourage everyone to read this book. Christian or non-Christian. Christian, so that they may better understand what & why we believe & non-Christians so that they may better understand what Christianity is all about.