Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Salt: C.S. Lewis Exposes Our Legalistic Thinking

After this week's discussion of legalism, this quote from C.S. Lewis seems appropriate. Lewis hardly needs an introduction to many, but his life and his conversion are fascinating and well worth examining. A brief overview can be found here. Also, John Piper delivered this winter a thought-provoking and insightful analysis of the tremendous value of Lewis's thought as well as some important cautions about how we allow it to influence us. Piper's tribute to Lewis and his observations on some of the weak points in the way Lewis went about his work struck me as incredibly brilliant in the way they summed up the works of Lewis I have cherished over the past 14 years. The message will make you love Lewis more but also think more clearly about him.

Now, Lewis himself on how people go astray over setting up rules of behavior that go beyond the actual commandments about sin (although it is good for us to make personal decisions to stay away from some things if they tend to undermine our faith - see this earlier Sunday Salt):

"One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons - marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning."
- Mere Christianity, p. 76 (Touchstone edition; 1996).

Romans 14:1-6:
"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God."

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