Christianity Is Not a Means

Our Faith is not primarily intended as a way to create a great culture. It is not primarily a way to run for political office. It is not primarily a way to advance literature, poetry, or song. All of these things are great effects of our faith, but they are not the reason to become interested in Jesus.

So too, we ought not go searching for churches based on which ones have the great pieces of literature or the more “beautiful” experience of worship. This method may seem like a step-up from the buffet-style Christianity you just left, but it is only a small step. Now you’re at the organic foods grocery. You’re still shopping.

Lewis nails this as well. He wasn’t opposed to a religion that created a “culture.” Of course not. He wasn’t disinterested in politics or the human condition. Of course not. He did, however, have his priorities in order.

Through Screwtape’s mouth we again get a gem:

Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that ‘only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and birth new civilizations’. You see the little rift? ‘Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.’ That’s the game.

~ Letter 23

“World and life view” folks (of which I am one), be convicted.

Nothing is Naturally Evil

Screwtape complains:

He has filled His world full of pleasures.  There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least– sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working.  Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us.  We fight under cruel disadvantages.  Nothing is naturally on our side.

~ Letter 22

This is better than a theology that emphasizes “common grace.”  This is a theology that emphasizes creation.

All things are naturally good because all things come from God.

So, this ought to influence our approach to culture.  We don’t have to drastically alter the natural state of things.  All we need to do is remove the evil that may have infected them.  Remove the evil from rock music, and that which is left will simply be “Christian rock.”  No need to add extra sugar on top.

Remove any evil that may be in our practice of Logic and Math, and the leftover will be “Christian Logic” and “Christian Math.”

This is important because unbelievers didn’t invent these things.  God did.

And that’s what will separate the good from the bad&ugly “worldviews.”

Love and Being in Lewis

In Lewis’ Screwtape Letters we read from the pen of Uncle Screwtape:

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self.  My good is my good and your good is yours.  What one gains another loses.  Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them.  A self does the same.  With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger.  ‘To be’ means ‘to be in competition’.

Now the Enemy’s philosophy is nothing more nor less than one continued attempt to evade this very obvious truth.  He aims at a contradiction.  Things are to be many, yet somehow also one.  The good of one self is to be the good of another.  This impossibility He calls love, and this same monotonous panacea can be detected under all He does and even all He is- or claims to be.  Thus He is not content, even Himself, to be a sheer arithmetical unity; He claims to be three as well as one, in order that this nonsense about Love may find a foothold in His own nature.

~ Letter 18

That Lewis is able to so easily and pastorally interact with Heidegger is impressive in its own right.  That he also manages to bolster Augustine’s concept of the unity of Trinity as love is icing on the cake.