Sunday, May 2, 2010

New Weekly Series: Sunday Salt

Today I am beginning a weekly series I am calling "Sunday Salt". My goal is to draw from the great history of Christian wisdom and to share something valuable each Sunday (Lord willing) from teachers, leaders, missionaries, and writers who have already entered their reward. As C.S. Lewis has said, every generation has its own blind spots. The only way to guard against the particular misleading ideas you were brought up with in your culture and generation is to read outside of both - "in an abundance of counselors there is safety." (Proverbs 11:14). So my prayer is that this weekly devotion will be a way of holding up a mirror to our thinking to reveal areas that are skewed, as well as providing some encouragement and wisdom.

Appropriately enough, I am starting with Lewis himself:

"It is a mistake to think that some of our impulses—say mother love or patriotism—are good, and others, like sex or the fighting instinct, are bad. All we mean is that the occasions on which the fighting instinct or the sexual desire need to be restrained are rather more frequent than those for restraining mother love or patriotism. But there are situations in which it is the duty of a married man to encourage his sexual impulse and of a soldier to encourage the fighting instinct. There are also occasions on which a mother's love for her own children or a man's love for his own country have to be suppressed or they will lead to unfairness towards other people's children or countries. Strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses. Think once again of a piano. It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the 'right' notes and the 'wrong' ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or any set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts.

By the way, this point is of great practical consequence. The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials 'for the sake of humanity', and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man."

Mere Christianity, pp. 23-24 (Touchstone edition; 1996).

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