Mere Christianty by C. S. Lewis

Notes by Guy R. Winters.

Author's Preface

The purpose of this work is “... to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” [p. 6] {Not to conclusively prove that Christian beliefs are right or true.}

Book One: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe

{Note again, “clue” not proof.}

Chapter 1. The Law of Human Nature

In quarrels, people appeal to an assumed standard of behaviour, to critizice other people or to excuse their own actions, “some kind of Law or Rule of fair play.” [p. 16] Natural Law, known to virtually all people, to be obeyed or disobeyed... [References in the appendix, “The Abolition of Man” book, and the similarities of various moralities.]

Even people who say there is no real Right or Wrong will still act as if they have been wronged by another. [p. 18]

Knowing this law, we all fail to act towards others in accord with the law (and make excuses to justify ourselves). [p. 19] Our excuses are further evidence of how deeply we believe this Law.

Chapter 2. Some Objections

The Moral Law is not “herd instinct.” Conflicting instincts differ from a moderating “ought to” feeling above (or controlling) all instincts to some degree. Instincts by themselves (or impluses) are not good ot bad, right or wrong. Not mere “social convention” as the result of education.

Differing moralities can be judged by a higher Natural Law, like mathematics.

“I have met people who exergrate the differences, because they have not distinguished between differences of morality and differences or belief about facts.” [p. 24]

Chapter 3. The Reality of the Law

Natural Law is a principle or standard, not like the physical laws of the cosmos.

People are different from other things. “You have the facts (how men do behave) and you have something else (how they ought to behave). In the rest of the universe there need not be anything else.” [p. 26] We seem to judge intent even more so than result, for example excusing a person for bumping into us by accident, when we would not excuse the same action if we thought it delibrate.

It is insufficient to push the reasoning back, to say that the reason to behave decently is “because it's good for society.” [p. 28] Why should I care what's good for society?

[The evolutionist might say that an irrational belief in a high standard of community behaviour appears to be a positive survival trait, leading to a preponderance of people with such beliefs.]

“Not that men are unselfish, nor that they like being unselfish, but that they ought to be.”

“It begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men's behaviour, and yet quite definitely real – a real law, which none of us made but which was God pressing on us.” [p. 29]

Chapter 4. What Lies Behind the Law

Having found reason to believe in a Natural Law, we could assume either a materialistic or a religious view of the universe. [p. 29] (Another view in between: the “Life-Force” view, with either a God-mind or purpose & preference, or a deaf and blind non-mind.) [p. 33]

Science observes causes and effects, but can say nothing of fundamental purposes. [p. 30] Only in people can we go beyond purely external observations. [p. 31]

To some extent we know about the material universe. To some extent we know about minds, in so far as I know of my own mind and hear the reports of others about their minds. Natural Law doesn't appear to be a fruit of the material universe, so it seems to come from something more like a mind.

Chapter 5. We Have Cause to be Uneasy

  1. There's nothing regressive in abandoning the “modern” or “scientific” mindset and accepting that there ismore than the material universe. [p. 34]

  2. All that the material universe and Natural Law evidence about the “Something behind the Moral law” is that the universe was created in such a way that it is now beautiful and merciless, and that a sense of good and bad has been given us.

  3. Christianity makes no sense until you accept that a Moral Law is real, and there is a Power behind it.

Book Two: What Christians Believe

Chapter 1. The Rival Conceptions of God

“If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. ... But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong.” [p. 39]

The first big division: the majority who believe in some kind of God or gods, and the minority who do not.

The second big division is between Pantheism, thinking that God is beyond good and evil, and the “idea that God is quite definitely 'good' or 'righteeous.'” [p. 40]

The Pantheist also believes that the universe is almost like God's body, an animated necessary part of God's existance, rahter than a separate creation. [Perhaps being really separate from God is part of why creatures may have wills which differ from God's and introduces the possibility of evil.]

“If a good God made the world, why has it gone wrong?” [p. 41] But if the world has really gone wrong, and I have a sense of justice, then this is evidence of a just God having created us nd instilled in us this sense.

Chapter 2. The Invasion

What of the deist, believing that God created the universe, and then stepped back, no longer involved in caring for or judging his creation? This is “Christianity-and-water” [not Christianity-and-blood?], an overly simple and neat religion. The problem is not simple, neither is the answer.

The problem is “a universe that contains much that is obviously bad and apparently meaningless, but containing creatures like ourselves who know that it is bad and meaningless.” [p. 44]There are only two views” the Christian vieww of a good world gone bad, or the Dualist view of two equal and independent powers, one good and one evil, waring in the battlefield of the universe.

The catch to Dualism; either both powers consider themselves good, meaning that one is mistaken, or both agree which is evil, meaning that there is an independent standard of good and evil, a third power in the universe. [p. 45]

The devil is a fallen angel, the evil thing is a perverted good, or a bad means to reaching a good goal. [p. 46-7]

Christianity agrees that the universe is at war, but a war of rebellion, not of equals.

Chapter 3. The Shocking Alternative

How can a good God have absolute power and allow evil? [p. 48]

Our experience: things voluntary are often not done.

The freedom which makes possible evil is also the only thing which makes possible a free response to God's love. Obviously, since we live in a world with evil, God felt that the risk of evil was an acceptable price for a world of freedom. [Who else could judge that the value was worth the cost?] [p. 49] The cause of evil: “The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first – wanting to be the centre – wanting to be God, in fact.” Nothing can replace God in our lives, even though we search for something just as satisfying without the responsibililty (tastes great, less filling).

[p. 51] IN response, God gave us a conscience, dreams of salvation (embedded in various religions), the people of Israel, and finally the Man who claimed he was God.

Jesus' most unique claim is the right to forgive sins. [p. 52]

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 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 partronising nonsence about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. [p 52]

[This issue of free will seems to ty and address two broad areas of human experience. This bit by Lewis is focused on one area of experience, our behaviour relating to the creation. This is an area almost oblivious to God (or so deeply assuming God that it no more recognizes God than a fish sees the water), apart from His "rules for life" or the Natural Law.

[The second area is where man responds directly to God, including the issue of conversion v. salvation. The degree to which salvation relies upon conversion ("choose you this day whom you will serve") and a personal response to God's call is the degree to which free will is relevant in this area.]

What of those incidents in the Old Testament (and Jesus in the New Testament) where God "chamges His mind" regarding His actions toward men?

Chapter 4. The Perfect Penitent

However unlikely, it appears that God has come into this enemy-occupied world in human form, for the primary purpose to suffer and to be killed. This death has somehow made us right with God, which is infinitely more important than theories of how we are put right (e.g. to take man's punishment and satisfy God's justice). [p 54]

Now, of less importance, some thoughts of how: Jesus paid a debt we could not. "And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent; only a good person can repent perfectly." It is not a demand of God's will, but a description of what must happen. [p 56]

Much of what God helps men do, such as to reason or to love, are things which are part of this nature. But it is not in His nature "to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die," to take the path of repentence; this can be done only by Him becomming a man to give us His submission and death in which to share, to follow in our own submission and death. In a sense this was easier for Jesus than for us, but more so was only possible because He was God.

Chapter 5. The Practical Conclusion

The Christian belief is that we can somehow share His humility, death, and thereby His life. Obviously this is far more than just trying to follow His teaching.

The ordinary (there may be other "special cases") three things which spread the Christ life to us: baptism, belief, and Communion.

We can lose natural life by neglect or suicide. "In the same way a christian can lose the Christ-life which has been put into him, and he has to make efforts to keep it." [p 61] As a body of life can be healed of many wounds, so a person of Christ-life can be healed of spiritual wounds, even self-inflicted injuries. God does not love us because we are good, but makes us good because we are loved. This Christ-life is not simply mental or moral, but a physical and spiritual thing, too. Man is spiritual and physical; God uses both to bring us this Christ-life.

What of those who have never even heard of Christ? "We do not know only those who know Him can be saved through Him." [p 62}

Eventually God will come, not in humility, but in undisguised glory. Then it will be too late to choose, but it will be time that our choice will be revealed. God is holding back, giving us time to choose.

Book Three: Christian Behaviour

Chapter 1. The Three Parts of Morality

Morality is not "something that stops you having a good time. In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine."

Perfect behaviour may be unattainable; "but is is a necessary ideal prescribed for all men by the very nature of the human machine." [p 65]

There should be no pride in trying to meet the ideal which is set before all of us. We are bound to fail, and each failure will cause us trouble later on, so of course we should try to succeed, if only to avoid problems.

"There are two ways in which the human machine goes wrong." One is in our relationships with other individuals, the other is within ourselves. Morality has a third concern, the "general purpose of human life as a whole." It is not just to avoid certain things, but to arrive at other things.

It is natural to begin with social relations because the results of failure are so obvious. However, it is imposioble to keep good rules of behaviour when "our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them."

You cannot have a good society without good people. Here "different beliefs about the universe lead to different behaviour." If it is true that I am created by another for His purposes, and that I will live forever, then there will be certain duties not otherwise expected of me.

Chapter 2. The "Cardinal Virtues"

Another traditional division of morality: by the Seven Virtues.

The Cardinal Virtues (pivotal; recognized by all "civilised people") [p 70]:
1. Prudence - "practical common sense," not foolish.
2. Temperance - Taking pleasure to the right length and no further. "One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up."
3. Justice - fairness.
4. Fortitude - courage, "guts."

It's important to distinguish between virtuous acts and being a virtuous person. To focus on acts may wrongly cause us to believe that only acts matter, and not motivation, that God wants obedience alone, that the virtues matter only in this life.

Chapter 3. Social Morality

"People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed." - Dr. Johnson [p 74]

1. Christ did not introduce a new morality.
2. christianity does not prescribe a detailed program . It tells you what to do (e.g. feed the hungry), not how to do it (lessons in cookery). It's a director and a life or energy giver. The application of Christian principles comes from Christians with the right talents, e.g. economists, tradesmen, educators, or novelists.

General Christian principles include:

We all find some bits attractive, and other bits oppressive.

Note: Despite the advice of the ancient Greeks, Jews, and the Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, our modern economic system is based on lending money at interest (and the joint stock ownership of companies). Modern practice may differ from forbidden usury, or it may be a cause of some modern problems.

While Chriatians may work toward a society in which none are poor, in the meantime we are to practice Charity, giving to the poor. [p 77] "I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare." The great obstacle to Charity may be fear of insecurity. [We don't trust God's provision as we obey His commands of Charity.]

Most of us don't examine Christian teachings about social morality to test and refine our personal values, but rather to bolster and justify our views. We set ourselves as the standard for judging Christianity, not setting Christianity as the standard for judging our values. We must be truely Christian to really want a Christian society.

Chapter 4. Morality and Psychoanalysis

Two simultanous tasks set for us: to make modern society more Christian, and to make us more like the people who would create/restore a Christian society. [p 79]

What is the Christian idea of a good man?

How does Christian morality compare to psychoanalysis in putting right the "human machine?"

"The general philosophical view of the world which Freud and some others have gone on to ... is in direct contradiction to Christanity." Freud may have useful things as a specialist to say about neuratics, but he is only an amateur on general philosophy. Apart from the philosophy, the psychoanalysis technique is "not in the lease contradictory to Christianity." [My underlines.]

Moral choice involves both the act of the will in choosing and the feelings and emotions that accompany the choices. Psychoanalysis trys to fix abnormal feelings, while morality addresses the choices. failure in the one area needs a cure, while failure in the other needs repentance.

My response to the choices with which I'm presented grows me more like a godly person, or more like an ungodly person, forming my eternal character.

This is why we can say that the murderer has only to repent and he will be forgiven, while the man who is just angry will be condemned if he will not repent. It isn't the enormity of the act but the effect on the soul which is critical.

[The terrible act of a Himmler is all the worse for putting others in a new and harder position of choosing. They may not be ready for that choice, like the child has just learned that two plus two equals four, and now must solve calculus problems. We play at the small choices so we have practiced before we are presented with the big, hard choices. But is is not for another person, good or evil, to decide to present us with the hard choices, ere we fail in our immaturity and wrongly attribute the failure to our character or will.]

Right choosing leads to peace, and also to clearer knowledge of the evil remaining within. Wrong choices lead to moral blindness. "A thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right."

Chapter 5. Sexual Morality

Chastity. Rules of modesty, propriety, or decency change with society, but the rule of chastity is the same for Christians at all times and in all societies. To break the social rules for the purpose of exciting lust in themselves or others is to be unchaste. To break the social rule in carelessness is just bad manners. To shock and embarrass is uncharitable. [p 84]

The Christian rule is either faithful marriage or total abstinence.

The sexual appitite grows by indulgence as also be repression.

We need not be ashamed that sex is our mode of reproduction or that it gives pleasure. But the fallen and twisted sexual impulse is something of shame, to be repented of and tamed.

Complete chastity is difficult for three reaswons. First, our nature and our society try to convince us that self control itself is abnormal, irrational, unreasonable. Second, many will not even try chastity believing it is too difficult, or impossible. Fortunately we can ask for God's help to try again and succeed. Third, we misunderstand the repressed desire, dangerous psychological illness that it is, with the consciously resisted or denied desire. We don't deny that the desire exists, but we don't give it its way.

Chapter 6. Christian Marriage

The basis is that the two are to be regarded as "one flesh," as we regard the lock incomplete without a key, or a violin incomplete without a bow. [p 96] (The sexual union is intended to be part of an overall package, not to be taken in isolation.)

All Churches agree that marriage should be for life, that divorce should not be allowed, or should be allowed oly in extreme cases. To enter and leave marriage should not be a casual thing. Divorce also touches on an issue of Justice: keeping your promises, apart from your feeings.

Don't try to keep the initial thrill, let it die to be followed by the quieter happiness of new thrills. The thrill cannot be kept forever, nor is "falling in love" irrestible.

The social rules might be different from those of the church, since most people in society are not Christian.

In a permanent marriage, one will need to be the head, if nothing else than to settle real disagreements.

That the husband should be the head seems naturally the right order even to nonchristians. Also, the woman seems likely to defend her family at any cost (right or wrong), while the man seems more just in dealing with the outside world.

Chapter 7. Forgiveness

The "terrible duty" of forgiving our enemies may be even more unpopular than chastity. [p 101]

To be forgiven we must forgive.

We learn to forgive by starting with small things done by those close to us.

Loving my neighbor is not the same as liking him or excusing his actions. As Christians should face the consequences of their actions, so we should bring others to justly account for their actions.

Since life is eternal, punishment, even death, is a transitory state which may have possitive effects on our eternal souls. [Applying the death penalty to an innocient man may be less evil than freeing an unprentant thief.]

To love my enemy is to wish for his good, not evil.

Chapter 8. The Great Sin

The vice of Pride or Self-Conceit (v. Humility), a sin almost uniquely recognized by Chriatian morality. [p 106] We are not proud of having a thing, only proud of having more of a thing than others. And power is what pride really wants, power over other men and all of God's nature.

Pride always brings enmity between men, and with God.

The proud religious man is not worshipping the real God.

A test: if my religious life is making me feel that I am better than those around me, then it's not God working in me, but the devil. Wen we are really standing before God, then we will either forget about ourselves, or we will see that compared to Him we are small, dirty objects of no value in ourselves. [We will have no eyes for the people around us, except to lend a hand.]

Pride is a purely spiritual sin. It has no part of the animal nature in it. [Perhaps other than the instinct of one male challenging the herd's "alpha male" for the right to breed and control the herd.]

The devil laughs when we use Pride as the means and ends of conquoring the other lower (animal) vices.

Taking pleasure in praise is not itself Pride, for the pleasure is not on what you are, but in whom you've pleased. But the temptation is to delight more in yourself than in the praise you've been given.

Whole-hearted admiration for a son, father, or social group, though we call it pride ("I'm proud of you") is not the vice itself, though it could lead to such if we regarded ourselves pridefully due to our association with the other.

Pride is not a vice because God Himself is proud. He humbled Himself to come as a man to welcome us as we are and to make use truely better.

The really humble man whom you meet would be recognized by his taking interest in you, in what you are saying and doing. He will seem to easily enjoy life.

The first, biggest step toward humility is to know that you are full of pride.

Chapter 9. Charity

The three "theological" virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity .[p 112] Forgiveness (chapter 7) is part of Charity. The modern sense of giving to the poor is due to this being one of the most obvious things done by a man with Charity.

Charity means "Love, in the Christian sense," not of feelings but of will [of choice]. A "liking" may be useful to help us have charity toward someone, but liking is not itself a virtue. We are to act with love, not feel with love.

When we act lovingly toward others, the affection [usually] follows and each reinforces the other. When we act with hatred [or indifference] toward others, feelings of hatred are strengthened, and agina each reinforce the other.

Charity should be our love of God, too. It should guide our actions as those pleasing to Him, not trying to stir up emotions apart from actions. And God's love is consistant, it isn't a feeling that comes and goes. [p 115]

Chapter 10. Hope

Hope includes "a continual looking forward to the eternal world." It is wanting (and expecting) something better than the world around us that helps us make this world better.

We all have a deep desire for something this world can't offer.

The fool blames the things of this world (hhis wife, his job) for not fulfilling this desire, and is always disappointed.

The disillusioned and "sensible" man denies the desire.

The Christian finds all creaturely desires have a fulfillment, so believes that this eternal desire will have fulfillment, and he eagerly anticipates it. He rightly enjoys earthly desires fulfilled as awakening the capacity to enjoy heavenly desires fulfilled.

Chapter 11. Faith

Faith in one sense is accepting as true the doctrines of Christianity based upon sufficient evidence, opposing the long-term effects of emotion and imagination. [p 119] [Faith is not just happy thoughts or wishful thinking, but is based on objective evidence.]

Lewis is "not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it." But if the evidence is found sufficient, then will come an emotional response to the rules of the faith, a mood in which we'd rather deny the evidence and enter into sin. Faith is relying on that evidence found adequate for belief, regardless of your changing moods.

First, acknowledge that your moods will change. Next, use daily prayers and reading and regular churchgoing to keep the basic doctrines before your rational mind that it may reign in your emotions.

Now to faith in the second, or higher sense. Only the man who resists temptation knows the power of that temptation; only Christ fully resisted and so fully knows temptation. The main thing we learn from trying to practice the virtues is that we will fail. It's not an exam in which we can earn a passing mark, or give God something which is not already His. To be discussed in the next chapter.

Chapter 12. Faith

faith in this second sense is purely practical, though it may make no sense from outside. God wants us to become the kind of creatures He intended, including in right relationship with Him and others. [p 124]

At some point we learn that moral effort, really trying our hardest, is not enough to become completely good.

Coming to this realization that I cannot do this, that it must be left to God, may be a sudden flash of insight or it may be a gradual change in which we lose confidence in ourselves and gain confidence in God alone.

Then we try our hardest, not to be saved, but because we've already been saved; not to gain Heaven , but because we've already begun to live in Heaven.

"Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions or Faith in Christ." [p 127] It's like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. It's through serious trying that we lose faith in ourselves and gain faith in Christ.

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who worketh in you."

Book Four: Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity

Chapter 1. Making and Begetting

Theology is like a map: it's not the real thing, but it is based on the experiences of many, many people with the real thing, fitted together, and also more useful if you want to get somwhere you've never been before. Apart from this "map" it's all thrils and no work, like watching the waves from the shore.

Without theology it's not that we dont have ideas about God, rather we have more wrong ideas about God. It's true that Christ was a great moral teacher, but tha's much less than the whole truth.

If Christian statements about an unseen spiritual world are true, then they may be expected to be at least as difficult to understand as the statements of physics about an unseen natural world.

Before all things Christ is begotten, not created, To begat is to bring about something of the same kind as yourself; to make is to bring about something of a different kind.

Everything God has made bears a resemblance to Him in some way, a symbol or shadow of His kind.

in his natural condition, man has Bios, the sort of life subject to entropy. Bios is a shadow of the Spiritual life, Zoe, the life which is in God from all eternity and which creates and sustains the cosmos. For a man to have Zoe is like the carved Pinocheo becoming "a real boy."

Chapter 2. The Three-Personal God

"God begats Christ, but only makes man." [p 136]

Mnay say that God must be more than a person, but only Christianity offers "any idea of what a being that is beyond personality is like."

Unlike a drop falling into the ocean, Christianity offers an idea that people can be "taken into the life of God, and yet remain themselves - in fact, be very much more tehmselves than they were before." in space, moving from one dimension to two, then to three, does not lessen the lower dimensions, but allows more complicated combinations of the simpler into the complex. Moving from the Human level to the divine is like moving from the dimensional level of squares to that of cubes. We can see the "squares" of God, but God is more than just the squares. God motivates me to pray, enables me to pray without ceasing to be the goal of my prayers.

Note paragraph, page 139, starting "And that is how Theology started." [p 139]

Theology is experiential, not theoretical. The higher the subject of our studies; rock, animal, man; the more the initiative moves from being our own to being shared. "When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side." My whole self, if bright and clean, is the instrument by which I may see God. And in community we can bring more, brighter, more "technical" instruments into use.

Chapter 3. Time and Beyond Time

Many people are bothered about how God could listen to hundreds of millions or prayers "at the same moment." [p 141] But god is not constrained by time at man's level, any more that the author is constrained by time at his creature's level. [I'm writing slowly because I know that you can't read quickly.] In this way God can give me His absolute attention for eternity, as if I were the only person in creation, and also how Christ could die for me individually, not just part of the broad universe.

[This is the critical point for me today. God is personal and takes a personal involvement in my individual life and experiences, all without losing track of the other individuals around me.]

"You cannot fit Christ's earthly life in Palestine into any time-relations with His life as God beyond all space and time." [p 144]

All moments are Now to God. He doesn't "remember" yesterday as we do, nor does He "foresee" tomorrow as we might, but He is there in all times as His Now. The moment in which I chose is in God's Now, as is the predecent and the consequencies.

This is not critical to faith, but may be helpful to some.

Chapter 4. Good Infection

Not all results come after the causes; book A does not hold up book B until book B is stacked upon book A [this is an example of the cause and effect being coincident]. So, too, in the Being of God, the three Persons show a Son who exists because the Father exists, but there was not a time before the Son existed that the Father existed. The Son is eternally the Word of God, the self-expresion of the Father, what the Father has to say. [p 147]

Notice that to say, "God is love," has no real meaning unless God is a Being who contains at least two persons. [Could God not have a love of self as can a man?]

The living, eternal relatioonship within God means that he is not a static thing, but dynamic, almost a kind of dance. This union of Father and Son is so uniquely concrete that it is the Third Person of God.

One reason that the Holy Spirit seems "rather vague or more shadowy" is that we are not usually looking at Him, but "He is always acting through you." [p 148] [Like the wind which is seen only through its effects.] We often think of the Father as "out there," the Son as at our side, and the Spirit as inside or behind us.

The importance to us: each of us is to "take his place in the dance." "If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them." [p 149] They are not prizes to be handed out but an existance to be entered into.

But we cannot enter this life in our Bios; we need Zoe to enter Zoe. "Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ." This is a "good infection" where "every Christian is to become a little Christ."

Chapter 5. The Obstinate Toy Soldiers

"The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God." [p 150]

[The Tree of Life, Zoe, was prepared for man, but he rejected it for the other tree. Therefore another avenue to Zoe was required.]

The two types of life are not only different, but actually opposed. The resistance of each man to becoming a True Man is so great that it could be overcome only by bringing a True Man into the world. For this, the Son of God became an actual True Man in the "real" physical world. "And because the whole difficulty for us is that the natural life has to be, in a sense, "killed," He chose an earthly career which involved the killing of His human desires at every turn." [p 151] And because the "human creature in Him" was united to the divine Son, it also came to life again.

Now, people generally look like separate things, only because we see them at the present moment. If you could see humanity spread out in time, it would look like a single, complicated tree [e.g. "Lifeline" short story by Robert A. Heinlein]. Consequently, Christ's actions affect all of us, because we are all connected. [This connectedness is most obvious when a child is born and the umbical cord stretches from mother to child. The direct physical connection is most indisputible through mothers; in some ways the fathers could be leaves (dead-ends) in this tree of connections.]

Therefore, the hard part of salvation, the part we simply could not do for ourselves, has already been done by Christ. "We individuals have to appropriate that salvation."

Chapter 6. Two Notes

1. Why did God use such a difficult and painful way to make sons when He could just begat many sons? It wouldn't have been a difficult and painful process if man hadn't applied his free will to break God's command in the Garden of Eden. [p 153]

"Could have been" doesn't really apply to God as the "rock bottom, irreducible Fact."

There appears to be no way to have many Sons apart from time and space and matter in which to distinguish them, so "many Sons" doesn't appear possible.

2. A continuity of the human race does not diminish the individuality or value of individual people. Christianity does not think of people as one lump of stuff, but as distinct organs in a large body.

Chapter 7. Let's Pretend

"Our Father." You're putting yourself in the place of a son of God, you are "dressing up as Christ." [p 156] The bad kind of pretending substitutes for the real thing; the good kind leads up to the real thing.

Christ hemself is at my side, showing me how to become more like Him. He helps us directly, and also through nature, our own bodies, books, experiences, and above all through other people [ the Body of Christ].

We must see Christ behind the other people in our lives, or we will eventually be let down by the people (mistakes, death, etc.).

"And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians 'being born again;' it talks about then 'putting on Christ;' about Christ 'being formed in us;' about our coming to'have the mind of Christ.'" [p 160]

More than just reading what Christ said we should do and then trying to do it, this is the living Christ standing beside us and acting with and in us.

1. We begin to notice our sinfulness - who we are in addition to what we do. I can often often control my actions, "but I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives."

2. It is God who does everything; "We, at most, allow it to be done to us." And God, too, seems to pretend that we are already like Christ and treats us so that we may become such in reality.

Chapter 8. Is Christianity Hard or Easy?

"Putting on Christ" is not just one of many jobs for a Christian, nor is it an optional "honors class." "It is the whole of Christianity." [p 162] And it differs from "being good" in that it is not just giving in to the claims of morality which will lead to giving up or increasing unhappiness, but listening to and yielding to Christ standing beside us. "It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg." [p 165] like an ordinary, decent egg, "we must be hatched or go bad."

If the chuirch is not drawing people into Christ, then cathedrals, missions, even the Bible is a waste of time. The whole universe was made to be in Christ.

[Does "being in Christ" not include much more than "just" His obedience to the Father? Does it not also include His joy and His suffering?]

Chapter 9. Counting the Cost

"The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less; but I wil give you nothing less." [p 167]

As a child I'd want relief from toothache, but even more than that I'd want to avoid the dentist. From my mother I could not get relief with asprin without a followup trip to the dentist; and the dentist will not stop with the one toothache, but go on "fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache."

So, too, we may come to Christ with some particular sin of which we are tired and from which we seek deliverance. He will go on to fiddle about with all our other sins, once we are fully in the chair, or he will deal with none at all.

As MacDonald said, every father is pleased with his son's first feeble steps, but is not satisfied with the same steps in a grown-up son. "God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy." - George MacDonald. [p 169]

God's demand of perfectionis not to dismay, but to direct. As before, it is not my intention, but my Creator's intention which matters. He gives the command, "be ye perfect," and He is making us into the kind of creatures that can obey that command. The making will be long and painful, as He promised.

Chapter 10. Nice People or New Men

Death is an important step in transforming us. [p 172]

It seems obvious that becoming a Christian should affect my outward actions, make me "nicer." "Christ told us to judge by results."

It is unreasonable to expect that all Christians will behave better than all non-Christians. First, "There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be christians ut who still call themselves by that name: some of them are clergymen. There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so." It is exceedingly difficult to divide thw world's population clearly between Christian and non-Christian.

Second, it may be valid to say that as a Christian I should be nicer than if I were not a Christian, and when I became a Christian I should be nicer than before I became a Christian. By nature and nurture some non-Christians will behave better than some Christians, just as low output does not prove poor management if the equipment is substandard.

Third, being nice is not what God demands of us. He is concerned with whether we offer ourselves to Him or withhold ourselves from him. Niceness is at most of secondary importance.

Indeed, we might expect nasty people to be more likely to recognize their need and become Christians than are naturaly nice people. And the nasty new Christian has a lot farther to go to become nice.

And the naturaly nice person must be on guard to not regard this niceness as his own merit, but itself a gift from God. [p 178] "The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee." [p 179] "(Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.)"

We should work for a world in which it is easy for everyone to be nice, but that will not be their salvation, and they "might even be more difficult to save."

"For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improved people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine."

Therefore it is no argument against Christianity that some individual Christians are much more nasty than some individual non-Christians.

Chapter 11. The New Man

christ's work is not mere improvement, but Transformation of men into sons.

Learning of Evolution, that man has evolved from lower forms, people begin to wonder, "what is the next step?" Seeing dinosaurs, who would have guessed that the next big change would be small creatures with big brains, rather than more brawny giants? Why now would we expect the Next Step to be just more of the same, more brains or more control over nature?

"I should expect not merely difference but a new kind of difference ... I should expect that Evolution itself as a method of producing change will be superseded." [p 182]

Talking in these terms, "the Christian view is precisely that the Next Step has already appeared." Of course this Next Step differs from Evolution in several ways. First, it comes to us from outside of nature. Second, "it is not carried on by sexual reproduction." Third, this time the Next Step is voluntary in the sense that we can reject it (not in the sense that we can originate it). Fourth, Christ is the center and origin of this change, and it is only by a direct connection with Him that this change occurs in any individual. Fifth, even over 2000 years, the speed of this change has been like a flash of lightening compared to the supposed speed of Evolution. Sixth, "the stakes are higher;" the lower creatures would lose a few years on Earth at most, but now we could literally lose eternity if we don't take the Next Step.

As a baby must leave the womb at the right time to gain its life, so must we have a new birth to gain a new life.

This new step has been taken and is being taken. We are surrounded by these new people at every turn.

These new people are not all alike even though all are filled with Christ. Filled with Christ our true self is revealed. Only in Christ do we find true, individual personalities. You must really give up your self, not to find life or personality or true self, but to give up your self, your life, all to the only one who has any real claim on you.

You must seek Christ, and in finding Christ you'll find all else.