Mere Christianity and The Weight Of Glory

These are excerpts from two great books by C.S. Lewis. I love these books, and I love these quotes. He is very eloquent and profound. I hope you enjoy them!

Mere Christianity

“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 be 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 patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity)

“It is no good asking for a simple religion.  After all, real things are not simple.  They look simple, but they are not.  The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of – all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain – and, of course, you find that what we call “seeing a table” lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of.  A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple.  And if you are content to stop there, well and good.  But if you are not – and the modern world usually is not – if you want to go on and ask what is really happening – then you must be prepared for something difficult.  If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.

Very often, however, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity.  Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack.  When you try to explain the Christian doctrine as it is really held by an instructed adult, they then complain that you are making their heads turn round and that it is all too complicated and that if there really were a God they are sure He would have made “religion” simple, because simplicity is so beautiful, etc. You must be on your guard against these people for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your time.  Notice, too, their idea of God “making religion simple:” as if “religion” were something God invented, and not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature.” (Mere Christianity)

“ If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.  But, fortunately, it works the other way round.  Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened…Christianity is an education itself.  That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.” (Mere Christianity)

“There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of Heaven ridiculous by saying they do not want “to spend eternity playing harps.”  The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.  All the scriptural imagery (harps, crown, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible.  Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity.  Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendor and power and joy.  Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it.  People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.” (Mere Christianity)

“Everyone has warned me not to tell you what I am going to tell you in this…book.  They all say “the ordinary reader does not want theology; give him plain practical religion.”  I have rejected their advice.  I do not think the ordinary reader is such a fool.  Theology means “the science of God,” and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available.  You are not children: why should you be treated like children?” (Mere Christianity)

“Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map.  But the map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God – experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused…and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers and music…For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today, are simply the ones which real theologians tried centuries ago and rejected.  To believe in the popular religion of modern England is retrogression – like believing the earth is flat.  For when you get down to it, is not the popular idea of Christianity simply this: that Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher and that if only we took his advice we might be able to establish a better social order and avoid another war?  Now, mind you, that is quite true.  But it tells you much less than the whole truth about Christianity and it has no practical importance at all.” (Mere Christianity)

“Perhaps a modern man can understand Christian idea best if he takes it in connection with evolution.  Everyone now knows about evolution (though, of course, some educated people disbelieve it): everyone has been told that man has evolved from lower types of life.  Consequently, people often wonder, “What is the next step?”  When is the thing beyond man going to appear?”  Imaginative writers try sometimes to picture this next step – the “Superman” as they call him…But I cannot help thinking that the Next Step will be really new…I should expect the next stage in evolution not to be a stage in evolution at all: should expect evolution itself as a method of producing change, will be superseded.  And finally, I should not be surprised if, when the thing happened, very few people noticed that it was happening.  Now, if you care to talk in these terms, the Christian view is precisely that the Next Step has already appeared.  And it is really new.  It is not a change from brainy men to brainier men: it is a change that goes off in a totally different direction – a change from being creatures of God to being sons of God.  The first instance appeared in Palestine two thousand years ago.” (Mere Christianity)

The Weight Of Glory

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”  (The Weight Of Glory)

“He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” (The Weight Of Glory)

“In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” (The Weight Of Glory)

“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” (The Weight Of Glory)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s