a good man?

I have most recently been delighted to having found the plethora of truly amazing work of 20th century intellectual, C. S. Lewis. His writings have probed me to question my relationship and perspective on Christianity as a whole and to step back from “innate” ideology and form my own opinions and ideals about what Christianity means to me and what it should mean to the world. Here is an excerpt from a book I am reading and my thoughts on it. Enjoy 🙂

“If Christianity should happen to be true, then it is quite impossible that those who know this truth and those who don’t should be equally well equipped for leading a good life. Knowledge of the facts must make a differences to one’s actions. Suppose you found a man on the point of starvation and wanted to do the right thing. If you had no knowledge of medical science, you would probably give him a large solid meal and as a result your man would die. In the same way a Christian and a non-Christian may both wish to do good to their fellow men. The one believes that men are going to live forever, that they were created by God and so built that they can find their true and lasting happiness only be being united to God, that they have gone badly off the rails, and that obedient faith in Christ is the only way back. The other believes that men are an accidental result of the blind working of matter, that they started as mere animals and have more or less steadily improved, that they are going to live for about seventy years, that their happiness is fully attainable by good social services and political organizations, and that everything else (e.g., vivisection, birth-control, the judicial system, education) is to be judged to be “good” or “bad” simply in so far as if it helps or hinders that kind of “happiness”.

Now there are quite a lot of tings which these two men could agree in doing for their fellow citizens. Both would approve of efficient sewers and hospitals and a healthy diet. But sooner or later the difference of their beliefs would produce differences in their practical proposals. Both, for example, might be very keen about education: but the kinds of education that they wanted people to have would obviously be very different. Again, where the Materialist would simple ask about a proposed action, “Will it increase the happiness of the majority?”. The Christian might have to say, “Even if it does increase the happiness of the majority, we can’t do it. It is unjust.” And all the time, one great difference would run through their whole policy. To the Materialist things like nation, classes, civilizations must be more important than individuals, because the individuals live only seventy odd years each and the group may last for centuries. But to the Christian, individuals are more important, for they live eternally; and races, civilizations and the like, are in comparison creatures for a day.

The Christian and the Materialist hold different beliefs about the universe. They can’t both be right. The one who is wrong will act in a way which simply doesn’t fit the universe. Consequently, with the best will the world, he will be helping his fellow creatures to their destruction.”

-“Man or Rabbit?” in God in the Dock by C. S. Lewis

My thoughts (as outlined in my journal aka just directly on the direct pages of the book I am reading):

So what are the major differences in two individuals, separated by belief, but both wanting to lead a “good” life, help others, succeed, and eventually reflect on their life with satisfaction in suit? Indeed, as Lewis implies, it is their intention; say, their point of perspective on the world. It cannot be denied that both men seek fulfillment and both men want the utmost welfare for others (if they are both seeking truly “good”). Then, why is there such a broad gap between the two? Oh, it has to be derived from their mode of intention. The Christian man knows good because he has the knowledge of what good is (that is, Jesus). But the non-Christian (the Materialist in this example) man is seeking for good. Blindly, one can assume. Like the Jesus analogy, some may argue that the non-Christian man views a superior, historical figure as being “good” and models his own life after that man. There is no argument though, that the man he views and models his life after was also essentially searching for the best form of good (I believe this because I believe God to be the only form of truth. Arguers could always give their opinion on why a certain person is viewed to be good and just). It appears to me that this man has built his life, his entire demise on the fallacy of true happiness. He is resting on a rocky bed, waiting for it to crumble. However, in contrast, the Christian man believes in factual (no, not mythical) truth that Jesus was the only true existing form of good and only off of Him can we build our life, our opinions, and our views. See, we are not searching for what good means to us. We are searching for modern ways to express that good in our lives. So, in theory, the two men are simply at different points in their lives. One searching for good and trying to find ways to satisfy the crowd, and one who has found good, searching for ways to satisfy the Master. They both want good and that cannot be questioned (and it is not being questioned). However, the one is like a doctor performing surgery before he has received the proper training and knowledge of the expertise: he is trying to fix the problem before he understands it himself.



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