The Psychology of Apologetics: Sin

October 22, 2008 at 1:37 am 37 comments

In this article I will continue our examination of Christian apologetics from a psychological perspective. Here, I wish to look at the concept of sin, so central to Christianity, and how the teachings about sin work to convert, and then retain, people into the fundamentalist faith-system.

I will take my lead from C. S. Lewis. Lewis teaches a lot about sin over the course of his Mere Christianity (MC), The Problem of Pain (PP), and The Great Divorce. Lewis tells us that a sinless creature, such as we humans were before the Fall, would be perfectly and utterly selfless. He would be perfectly in tune with God and the will of God, and his own will would be entirely subordinated to God’s. Lewis describes this memorably: “…each soul [in heaven] will be eternally engaged in giving away to all the rest that which it receives. And as to God, we must remember that the soul is but a hollow that God fills. Its union with God is, almost by definition, a continual self-abandonment– an opening, an unveiling, a surrender, of itself. ” (PP, p.151)

Thus, Lewis tells us that a state of harmony with God is a state of utter selflessness, of perfect and continual abdication of the will. Thus it follows rather directly that the nature of our corruption, of our sin, is will-full-ness. Self-will, according to Lewis, is the original original sin. It is what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven – when he said, I will become like the Most High…. rather than, as Jesus said, “Thy will be done.” Self-will means to make the self the center of the self-rather than God. It is a wish to disengage from this endless cycle of self-giving, and thereby keep for the self and thereby expand the self. All that is created is good, Lewis teaches, but Man has corrupted his self and the world by putting otherwise natural, good things to selfish ends.

Lewis teaches that the pure Christian heart wants only and is satisfied only with God. Any other want or aim or desire or wish or even feeling is a perversion of something good. Our goal as fallen creatures is to become fully aware that only in God is our satisfaction to be found. To seek satisfaction anywhere else is to put that goal before God. This, too, is a form of corruption.

This is what sin is, according to Lewis. Now, even Lewis says that Christianity has nothing to say to someone who is not first convinced he is a sinner. So priority number one of the apologist is to accomplish just this. How does Lewis go about it?

I suggest he has three tactics. First, he defines sin broadly – so broadly everyone who has ever lived cannot help but qualify as a sinner. Secondly, he teaches that your deepest feelings of guilt and shame and failure and weakness are your truest feelings, the most accurate reflection of what you really are. Finally, he shows you what it would mean to be sinless, which I suggest involves a human psychologically impossible task, as well as a paradox. Thus, it necessarily follows that you cannot help yourself, you cannot stop sinning on your own.

Now, of course, Christians are unabashed in believing and teaching just these things: we all sin, and we cannot save ourselves. But Lewis, using the rhetoric of his apologetic, gets you to feel it and thereby brings you in a new emotional state: a feeling of helplessness. Feeling helpless, the prospective believer then has no choice, of course, but to accept the ministrations offered by the apologist – i.e., convert, accept Jesus, and be saved. So with this background, let me walk through these steps in turn.

Broadening sin

Lewis’ teachings on what constitutes sin follow directly from the teachings of Jesus himself, e.g., Matthew 5:28. Sin includes, in other words, emotions. Certain emotions are themselves defined as sin, such as (here) lust and, in certain contexts, anger. Lewis’ contribution is to explain why this is so: such emotions are a reflection of the kind of creature one is. Which is to say, a wicked, corrupt, selfish one. Now, in our more sober moments, we realize pretty clearly that no one can control what they feel. We can influence our emotions, perhaps, but not dictate them. So, if we accept that sin includes what we feel, then, obviously, no one can escape being a sinner.

He also implicitly raises the bar. Jesus said we are to be “perfect”, and this is understood by fundamentalism to mean: no sinful thoughts or feelings (or behaviors), ever. To sin even once in life is worth eternal separation from God. So everyone deserves hell, on this view, because of emotions and thoughts that are not under voluntary control. A wider broadening of “sin” would be hard to imagine.

Going even further, Lewis offers a rather perverse theodicy. He suggests that suffering itself is sin, or at least the result of sin. After all, a true Christian, in harmony with God, is satisfied with God. Therefore, any suffering you feel is the result of wanting or experiencing something that is disrupting that blissful harmony that is yours for the asking. In other words, you are letting something matter to you more than your communion with God. It is taking God’s rightful place as the center of your thoughts. That is, of course, sin.

Now, fundamentalist Christians do not quite go so far as to teach that Christians will necessarily be happy or never face adversity; quite the contrary. But they are equally quite straightforward about their teaching that when one is in harmony with God, submitted to His will, one will experience unlimited peace and joy in the face of adversity. The implication here, then, is that if you fail to experience peace and joy in the face of adversity – that is, if you suffer – it is your fault, because you are sinning. Again, the definition is broadened – no one escapes being a sinner.

Amplifying sin

Lewis’ next move is to take this newly-acquired sense that sin really is universal and make it seem bad – really bad. Cosmically bad, in fact. He does this by appealing to the worst feelings you have ever had about yourself. He asserts: “But unless Christianity is wholly false, the perception of ourselves which we have in moments of shame must be the only true one…” (PP, p.57). Here, he directs your focus to your worst feelings of guilt, shame, and failure, and tells you that this is the most true and accurate reflection of who and what you are: a corrupt, unregenerate sinner. It is your conscience functioning correctly, or at least partly so, and he moreover suggests that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I.e., you don’t really know how bad you are, yet. You just get glimpses of it in your worst moments. There is no irrational, unjustified, displaced, disproportionate, or neurotic guilt, for Lewis. Your worst self is your truest.

This can be powerfully persuasive. Everyone has experienced guilt and shame, as part of our psychological make-up as social animals. We are wired by evolution and our individual upbringings to care what others think of us and to care how we behave. Furthermore, (as mentioned in part two) if the psychoanalysts are right, as young children we have no sense of our self as being distinct from what we feel. Young children’s emotions are thought to have a raw, global, overwhelming quality, and thus they have a lot of trouble telling the difference between feeling bad and being bad. Learning to manage those negative emotions that are a ubiquitous part of life is the hard-won core of emotional health. Only with maturity can we get some distance from painful feelings and can thus say, “I may feel bad because of guilt or anger right now, but it is not all of who I am”.

Lewis is trying to re-obliterate that distinction, and erode the many layers of defense mechanisms we all employ to contain pain, sadness, guilt, anger, and shame. He seeks to tap in to those reservoirs, and thus teaches explicitly that there is no difference between your feelings and your very being. Since we all spent our youngest, formative years experiencing life that way anyway, he is able to succeed at this. We are all too ready to believe it.

So, by now Lewis has us convinced we are pervasively sinful and, furthermore, our sin is far deeper than we imagine – cosmically bad, in fact. Lewis pulls no punches in this: he says we are a “horror to God.” One the believer has accepted these “truths” about himself, the way is paved for Lewis’ coup de grace, the picture he paints of our goal, the sinless life. It involves the paradox of selflessness.

The goal of sinlessness/selflessness

I have already laid out in part two of this series the paradox of submission of the will – i.e., that one must assert the will in order to deny it – so I will not repeat that here, and will instead only note that that paradox would have to be solved in order for a believer to really, truly submit his will in the way that is required of him. In addition to this, the believer is then set with another obstacle in his goal of restoring his harmony with God. For, again, Christianity teaches that to seek or want anything else, other than God, is part of sin. Again, Lewis: “Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. …God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” (MC, p.54). The implications here are sweeping: in the end, human need itself is defined as sin. To want to be loved, to want friendship, or security, or grandchildren, or respect, or sex, or to be remembered, or not to be lonely – any of the thousands of things human beings want that does not have God as its object – all of it is sin. We are to want only God, to seek our satisfaction only in God. Effectively, we are thus instructed so cease to want, and content ourselves with our relationship with God. But it is of course impossible to cease to want. And that is exactly the point.

Sin is thus shown to be a terrifying problem with no solution, or at least no solution the believer can accomplish by himself. He has finally, in the end, been brought into a state of helplessness. And helplessness is, I believe, key to the fundamentalist Christian schema. If the apologist has done his job, then someone following the rhetoric this far will have had his room to maneuver narrowed down to a single point, the singularity of the fundamentalist Christian psychology. He has but one choice before him: submit, or rebel. His critical thought and autonomy have been undermined, he “sees” for himself the “horror” that he is, and feels his helplessness to better himself by any effort of his own. Conviction of his sin has utterly vanquished him.

- Richard

Entry filed under: Richard. Tags: , , , , .

The Psychology of Apologetics: Rebellion The Psychology of Apologetics: Definitions (or, Flapping Your Arms With a Pure Heart)

37 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ubi Dubium  |  October 23, 2008 at 9:24 am

    I was raised in a mainstream protestant church, a pretty liberal one. Their take on this “sinfulness” issue was pretty interesting. There were still sermons about how everybody was “sinful” and how everybody needed to be “saved”. But at the same time, they had realized that constant harping on how we were “bad” was not the best message to be browbeating the children with. So the youth programs included strong self-esteem messages about how we were all “children of god” and we were reminded that “god don’t make no junk” (a strange turn of phrase for a highly-educated, middle class congregation to be using). I’m surprised that the sunday school teachers’ heads didn’t explode from the contradiction, trying to simultaneously teach the children that they were inherently unworthy, yet also inherently worthy.

  • 2. BigHouse  |  October 23, 2008 at 9:31 am

    I find the whole idea that we are all sinful because of Adam’s sinfulness and by extension by God’s own hand to be one of the most frustruating and infuriating parts of Christian doctrine. It completely contradicts the concept of free will and calls God’s ominpotence into heavy question. I am amazed at how little questioning of this whole argument is done in the Christian circles I ran in.

  • 3. Jenkins  |  October 23, 2008 at 11:29 am

    BigHouse

    I understand the frustrating part of the doctrine, but I’m not sure I understand how it calls God’s omnipotence into question. Can you explain? Thanks.

  • 4. BigHouse  |  October 23, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    God created Adam so Adam’s failure either means:

    1.) God intended him to fail or

    2.) God was not able to prevent Adam from failing.

    So God either didn’t give us free will or was unable to.

  • 5. Jenkins  |  October 23, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I’m fairly certain I know what the responses to this line of thinking are going to be. Most will say that if this is true it would make God an egotistical sick bastard and I understand, but I’m going to offer it anyways. I think a lot of the claims about original sin being an incoherent, frustrating doctrine stems from a misunderstanding (by Christians and non-Christians alike) of what the Bible states as God’s reason or purpose for creation. We’ve all heard the claim that humans are the center-piece of God’s creation and his greatest desire is for his children to enter into a relationship with him. We clearly see that a significant majority of people aren’t Christians, sin and suffering are present in this world, so it seems to follow God is incapable of stopping it or the Bible is a lie and he doesn’t really care about us as much as people claim. What if the beginning point, however, is that God is most concerned with himself? It seems to me that throughout Scripture, the most important thing to God is that he receives the glory that he’s due. Colossians, speaking of Christ, states that “by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him…He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” This seems to say to me that God’s primary concern is not us, not having people having a loving relationship with him (although this can be a byproduct of his actions), but is primary concern is the preeminence of Christ. Thus, he determined that Christ is most preeminent in the salvation of sinners, hence the reason for the fall. This would mean that all things, the fall of man, the crap that goes on in this world that we can’t understand, etc. happens to point the glory to Christ. I understand this line of thought is going to get hammered and I completely understand why. So, my question is not whether this makes so much sense that you accept it, but rather, do you think it makes for a more coherent argument? In all honesty, I’m not interested in whether you like this argument or whether you think it’s the sickest bunch of crap you’ve ever heard. I’m interested if, from a coherency standpoint, does it make more sense out of the fall, what takes place in Scripture, what goes on here and now.

  • 6. BigHouse  |  October 23, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Coherency is relative to its frame of reference. Your argument, to me, isn’t coherent, given the rest of the Bible.

  • 7. Jenkins  |  October 23, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    It’s not necessarily my argument, just something I’m thinking through.

  • 8. BigHouse  |  October 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Fair enough.

    The fall of Adam basically puts Christian doctrine into quite a apologetic pretzel trying to get God to be omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent.

  • 9. Jenkins  |  October 23, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Where in Scripture though does it say that benevolence is his highest aim?

  • 10. Rover  |  October 23, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Jenkins,

    I am not sure if it makes more sense out the Bible. Are you saying that God/Jesus, in order to make Himself preeminent, had to play around with man, even to the point of sending the majority to hell for ever and ever? Wasn’t God/Christ preeminent without man on the scene? Couldn’t he be preeeminent without causing/allowing man to sin? Isn’t He preeminent among the holy angels that did not sin? I am not sure this is a good argument, but I will admit that it is biblical. Most of us evangelical types see God’s foremost goal as glorifying himself.

  • 11. BigHouse  |  October 23, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Where in my response did I contend that benevolence was his highest aim?

  • 12. The Nerd  |  October 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    BigHouse, I recall that free will was explained as being necessary to give a being a self-identity (in one of Lewis’ books). Without will, there is no self, and then what would be the point in creating individual unique beings if they don’t have a sense of self? So yes, God intentionally set us up to fail.

    Which brings me to another question: even if it wasn’t a set-up, why would God need to create other beings in the first place? There were heavenly beings to keep him company. Why create a bunch of yes-men? This is the fundemental flaw behind the “selfishness as the root of all sin” philosophy, one that is usually dismissed by a “God’s ways are not our ways” wave of the hand.

  • 13. BigHouse  |  October 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Great points, Nerd. I also recall that the love we would give god if we “really” had the choice would be of a lot more worth than if god just created little robots, hence the need for free will.

    But free will, as created by a supposed omnipotent and omniscient being, seems oxymornic to me.

  • 14. Jenkins  |  October 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    True, you didn’t say benevolence was his highest aim. I was responding, perahps wrongly, to this statement, “The fall of Adam basically puts Christian doctrine into quite a apologetic pretzel trying to get God to be omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent.” I guess I was saying that I don’t see the apologetical problem with God’s attributes and the fall since benevolence isn’t his highest purpose.

  • 15. BigHouse  |  October 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Is benevolence assigned a zero weighting in your estimation of what God is? I’d be curious how you arrive at that given other parts of the Bible.

  • 16. Jenkins  |  October 23, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Rover

    First, understand that I’m not definitively saying anything. I don’t think I’d be able to answer those questions until I figured out whether or not the explanation I’m thinking through makes sense. So, my concern would be to first find what is the most biblically sound explanation of all this. I’m thinking through whether God ordaining the fall in order to make Christ preeminent in the salvation of fallen man is the most coherent explanation of what we see going on in Scripture. If this is the case, I suppose I would have to say that somehow Christ recieves more honor and glory through this than he did prior to the fall because he recieves the adoration and praise of those he saved. Hell, then, would be around not for arbitrary punishment, but to make his glory more evident by making known how great salvation is. Again, I know this isn’t a likeable explanation, but I feel like it’s at least a more coherent one. But, then again, I will feel different tommorow and the next day and so on.

  • 17. Jenkins  |  October 23, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    BigHouse

    I don’t think I would say that it’s assigned a zero weighting. I would say that it’s a byproduct of God’s highest aim, which is his glory. If the salvation of sinners serves the purpose of bringing God glory, then his followers recieve benevolence, not just because God is benevolent, but because his concern for himself leads to their salvation.

  • 18. BigHouse  |  October 23, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    This is an interesting take on God, Jenkins. I’m not sure it would inspire followers the same way other conventional Christian thought does. It basically boils to strict authoritarianism of God with us as playthings. And I don’t think it dovetails well with a lot of the passages of the Bible concerning God’s supposed love for us.

  • 19. Lorena  |  October 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    This is a great article through and through.

    I was particularly touched by this sentence, Going even further, Lewis offers a rather perverse theodicy. He suggests that suffering itself is sin,

    During my Christian experience, I felt the most abused and put down when I was suffering. Because I couldn’t express my pain without being beaten over the head with the typical phrases: Rejoice in the Lord always, there is a purpose on everything, our Lord also suffered–silently, just pray–dear–just pray, bring all your concerns to the Lord, etc.

    Apparently, Lewis has had a great influence in the evangelical world. His view of suffering is a staple of fundamentalist Christianity today.

  • 20. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 23, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I agree, BigHouse; the concept Jenkins is putting forward doesn’t seem Biblically sound.

    Regardless, though, I would gladly suffer in hell over worshiping a god that condemns humans to eternal suffering in order to make his preeminence more meaningful.

  • 21. CheezChoc  |  October 23, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    re: posts 19 and 20:

    Man….for some reason, this reminds me of the Saw movie character Jigsaw, who put people through horrific tortures because they “didn’t appreciate life enough.”

  • 22. Jenkins  |  October 23, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    I don’t think this line of reasoning denies God’s love for people. It just seems like if we recognize that loving people is not his primary agenda, it makes more sense out of a number of things, i.e. the fall. What isn’t biblically sound about it? It seems like it makes sense out of what Paul is saying in Romans 9, especially the part about the creatures not having ground to question the purpose of the maker. Again, I’m just wondering where this is contradictory to Scripture. I agree that the traditional Christian explanation of things is often lacking in coherency, so I’m wondering if this would be the most coherent explanation.

  • 23. Richard  |  October 23, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Jenkins- Though I am not an expert, I believe neoplatonism (e.g., which formed the basis for a lot of Christian theology, esp. in St Augustine) would suggest that a perfect being is necessarily perfectly good.

    I wouldnt swear to that, but I think thats accurate. Anyway, assuming thats true, it would make it internally contradictory to suggest a perfect being makes his own self-glorification his highest aim.

    And I think that accords with our commonsense view of good. To give an example such as Socrates might — a “perfect doctor”, who made patients sick in order to get the glory for curing them, would hardly be called good. But a “perfect doctor” who is not also good seems a contradiction. Hence, a “perfect doctor” would have to be one that sought the greatest good for his patients.

    And, of course, even if it turned out to be coherent, would anyone worship such a God?

    P.S. And perhaps thats another contradiction. Shouldnt any “God” be worthy of being worshipped? And isnt Goodness part of what makes that worthiness?

  • 24. Richard  |  October 23, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Lorena –

    I spent many years trying to deal with what in retrospect I recognize to be profound clinical depression (plus a lot of grief and general unhappiness to boot) by “laying it at God’s feet”.

    Needless to say, this was singularly ineffective advice. In fact, it made it worse. I assumed it was all *my* fault — failure to trust and all that.

  • 25. Richard  |  October 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Ubi –

    So which message won out in the end? Do you think that tug of war overall enhanced your fellow congregant’s self-esteem or undermined it?

  • 26. Debbie  |  October 24, 2008 at 7:58 am

    I’ve got an answer (?) for Jenkins. The Scriptural problem with the idea is John 3:16. It says that this God LOVED us so much that Jesus was sent. It says nothing about glory, or praise, or gratitude. In other words, love is the highest aim (according to this). So if this reference is true, and God IS love (see I John), then that’s the highest aim. And besides, an all-loving God would never seek His own glory, because He loves us–nothing is said about that all-loving being a requirement for us. There would be no need for a “saving” if God had not made Hell. What kind of all-loving God does that? And isn’t conceit a sin? If God wants His own glory, that makes him conceited!? Your thought is interesting, but I agree, it’s not Scriptural. But hey, lots of things that God does aren’t–they happen anyway.

  • 27. Ubi Dubium  |  October 24, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Richard

    So which message won out in the end? Do you think that tug of war overall enhanced your fellow congregant’s self-esteem or undermined it?

    Well, I left that church when I went to college, and never went back, so I don’t really have a long-term answer. But in my encounters with fundies thereafter, I have seen a much greater preoccupation with sin and unworthiness than I ever saw amongst the Presbyterians. Perhaps the emphasis on self-esteem was the basic human decency of the people of that church refusing to be suppressed by the biblical and apologetic emphasis on shame and guilt. I’m OK, You’re OK was much a more popular text there than Mere Christianity. So I think that even though there was an inherent contradiction in their message, that it was certainly better for the congregation than the “you are totally unworthy, now grovel” attitude of many apologists.

    Now, as a long-time deconvert, I am raising my kids with only the self-esteem message. They are such perfectionists that they beat themselves up sufficiently for their own mistakes, and they don’t need anybody else adding any guilt. To thrive in this world they will need confidence, not deep-down feelings of unworthiness.

  • 28. Richard  |  October 24, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Oh, yeah, one more thought. Even if God’s highest aim was his own glory, why does that necessitate casting us into hell for sin? We treat it as obvious that “God cant tolerate sin” but, really, why not? Cant God do whatever he wants? Why does blood have to be shed to forgive sins? Who made that rule up?

  • 29. Jenkins  |  October 24, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Debbie

    Would it not stand to reason that there can be some differences in what is right/wrong for God and man. If God is real, all-powerful, and perfect, he would deserve the honor and glory of his creation. It would be wrong, though, for man to seek glory for himself because he doesn’t deserve it. So, God seeking his own glory can’t be wrong because he’s seeking the worship of the highest good, which happens to be himself. Honor and glory have to be addressed somewhere and if this God is real, the only right place for it to be directed is him. So for God to seek honor and glory for something other than himself would be to detract from the highest good.

    Scripture attests to this. I can’t remember the exact reference off the top of my head, but in Isaiah it says that he blots out transgressions for his namesake. Psalm 23 says he leads people in paths of righteousness for his namesake. The Colossians passage I referenced earlier says that all things were made in and for Christ, so that he might be preeminent. I don’t think this line of reasoning is without basis. This wouldn’t deny the passages concerning love and God’s love for his people, but it puts it in proper perspective, that it isn’t his highest aim. I think, and I could be way off, but one problem with Christian apologetics is that it tries to answer questions from the wrong starting point. It tries to cram all the answers to what’s going on around us into the framework of God’s main goal above all else being love for people. I very well could be way off, but I think it has more biblical grounding than some think.

  • 30. Richard  |  October 24, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Ubi-

    …They are such perfectionists that they beat themselves up sufficiently for their own mistakes, and they don’t need anybody else adding any guilt.

    Yes, dont they? ANd that gives lie to the entire fundamentalist set of presumptions about human nature — that we are depraved to the core and “you dont have to teach kids how to be bad.” I heard that a lot a church. Well, you dont have to teach them how to feel guilty, either, and you dont have to teach them to care about what others think. Human morality develops entirely naturalistically from their relationships with their parents. We’re wired to care about others.

    I am convinced that confidence develops out basic self-esteem. I will have some articles on this topic coming up.

    Glad you dodged the bullet!

  • 31. Richard  |  October 24, 2008 at 9:51 am

    If God is real, all-powerful, and perfect, he would deserve the honor and glory of his creation.

    So what would be the basis on which he deserved to be worshipped?

    It seems contradictory to me to talk about a “perfect” being who is not perfectly good. And a perfectly good being would care about his creation, at least **enough** not to see them tortured, even if that wasnt his *highest* goal.

  • 32. BigHouse  |  October 24, 2008 at 10:05 am

    <Honor and glory have to be addressed somewhere and if this God is real, the only right place for it to be directed is him.

    This is an odd statement. Why must honor and glory be addressed “somwhere”?

    I’m still not seeing anything that solves the apologetic pretzel but I give you kudos for trying, Jenkins.

  • 33. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 24, 2008 at 11:44 am

    This wouldn’t deny the passages concerning love and God’s love for his people, but it puts it in proper perspective, that it isn’t his highest aim.

    Put in the perspective you’re using, love is not even an aim. A god that is willing to torment unbelievers for eternity to satisfy his need to be preeminent, even if he “deserves” it, clearly does not love these people. At least not according to any definition of love any rational person has ever used.

  • 34. bipolar2  |  October 24, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    ** blarnia ad narnia **

    Lewis is a propagandist. Like many another convert he must convince others of his new found “truths” in direct proportion to his insecurity about their being true.

    Much to Tolkein’s disappointment he did not convert to Catholicism — such an Oxford thing to do, even in Lewis’ time. He became an Anglican, having been an agnostic.

    Lewis was not a theologian. He ended his life as a professor of medieval literature at Cambridge. Stick with C. S. Lewis on medieval lit. Especially illuminating, “The discarded image” Cambridge U. Pr. (Canto reprint pbk).

    His “Mere Xianity” means just that. It presents a mere, core set, of alleged truths which supposedly define the essence of xianity in an Aristotelian sense. Lewis longed for a religious medievalism unintelligible to his fundie idolators.

    Alas, dear Lewis, The Divine Comedy is not a travelogue.

  • 35. gracesong815  |  October 24, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Here is the main problem with arguing from the Bible. Do you know, for sure, that the Bible, as is distributed to us today, is the infallible, inerrant Word of God? Do you have the manuscript evidence to back up your claims?
    Furthermore, are you being completely honest about the origins of Christianity?
    These questions are addressed to no one in particular, but it’s definitely something to think about. The biggest problem that I began having was the question of conscience. If I myself as a scummy sinner couldn’t fathom the horrors of Hell, then how could God, in His perfect goodness?

  • 36. Jenkins  |  October 24, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Richard

    To #28, in my mind it makes sense why a payment must be made for sin, but as to why that has to involve blood, I can’t answer that. The standard response to the other would be that perfect goodness and holiness cannot dwell eternally with sin. The sin would cause heaven to be less than heaven. Whether you buy that answer is a different story.

    BigHouse

    To respond to #32, that statement I made would only be true if a perfect creator existed. If this type of God existed, I believe it would stand to reason that he would deserve the honor and worship of his creatures. I might not have worded that statement right, but that’s what I meant.

    I’m not sure if I’m on the right track with this whole God ordaining the fall stuff or not. What I am trying to do is to be honest with the answers. I get just as fed up wit the cheap, cliche answers as anyone.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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