Friday, January 23, 2009

The Inner Ring

I really enjoyed this essay of Lewis because I could apply it to my life. In the beginning, he tells his audience that he is going to give advice and issue warnings. He says that he is not going to warn us about the Devil and the Flesh, but he is going to warn us about the World. He starts his essay by telling the story of the young second lieutenant Boris Dubretskoi, who discovers that there two different systems or hierarchies that exist in the army. He uses this story to introduce his topic, the Inner Ring.

The Inner Ring is found everywhere you go. Lewis writes that you will find the Rings in “whatever hospital, inn of court, diocese, school, business, or college.” Most have experienced being inside and outside of this Ring. Lewis believes, “One of the most dominant elements in a man’s life is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.” Society is one of these rings, in which we strive to follow the social norm. We see many examples of this in society. Teenage girls are becoming anorexic because of the outside pressures of Hollywood and beauty magazines that display unhealthy, skinny bodies. These girls want society to notice them for being thin and beautiful. In other cultures, it is beautiful to have more curves and be average weight. Striving to enter the Inner Ring of our society can be extremely dangerous.

I believe the main reason why we want to be in this Inner Ring is to make ourselves feel like we are “cool” or popular or a good person. People will try to go in this dangerous Inner Ring, even though they know that it is wrong or not even that much fun. For example, many high school students will choose to smoke and drink because they want others to accept them. Only a few are willing to stand outside of this Ring and refuse to join in with the popular people’s party. In middle school and high school, the Inner Rings were everywhere. I was very self-conscious about what people would think about my new shirt or how they would like my nice brand of jeans. I felt like I couldn’t talk to the “popular” kids because I wasn’t at their status. I was afraid that I would be mocked and rejected. When I got to college, everything was different. Here, nobody really pays attention to what others wear, or if someone wears the same shirt that they wore less than a week ago. There are still Inner Rings at college, but they are not as well defined as they were in high school.

Because the Inner Rings will always exist, it is important that we are aware of them. Lewis writes, “Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life…” It is part of our human nature to desire the acceptance and recognition of others. To be outside of the Ring causes us anguish, but once we enter the Ring, it may bring happiness for a short time. This pleasure will be short lived because the circle cannot have from within the charm it had on the outside. For example, once a teenager has finally been accepted into the popular group by smoking or attending a few parties, he may realize that he cannot be happy because he is not being himself; rather he is putting on a show for others. Being in the Inner Ring is not as great as it seems from the outside.

The Problem of Pain (6)

I found this chapter really interesting because it was all about human pain. It applies to me because I have been through some difficult times of physical pain, such as being in the hospital for a week with a severe leg infection. I also have felt pain in many other trials the Lord has sent me, such as death of a friend’s little sister, grandparent, and classmate. There are two human pains that Lewis mentions. The first is a painful sensation of the nerves; the second is an unpleasant experience. Lewis focuses on the second kind of pain in this chapter. This second kind of pain is synonymous with suffering, anguish, tribulation, adversity, or trouble. These hardships are difficult at the time, and I cannot get through them on my own so I find myself looking to God for comfort and support. In this chapter, Lewis explains that these tribulations keep us on the right path and focus our attention towards God.

In order to understand why God sends us trials, Lewis presents to us a few analogies. He writes that when pain hits him, he is overwhelmed and all his little happinesses look like broken toys. “Then,” he writes, “slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ.” At our lowest and most painful moments is when we focus our attention on God. If we always thought of God and relied on Him this much, he would not need to send us trials to keep us walking straight on our path.

Lewis gives another analogy about his behavior after a trial is passed. He writes, “I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over – I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness…into the nearest flower bed.” Lewis continues by saying that this is why our tribulations cannot come to an end, until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless. God sends these hardships to His people out of love so that they can grow. Just as a parent spanks his child because he wants the child to learn how to behave, so God cares about the salvation of His people and sends trials to strengthen their faith.

Another important point that Lewis brings up is how we fail to acknowledge God when our lives are flowing smoothly. Lewis writes, “We ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying when ‘all’ does not include God. We find God an interruption.” This is a powerful statement to me because I find it true too many times in my life. I think I have it so good when I am on vacation and get to hang out with friends or family, or I do not know what to ask for at Christmas because I have everything I need. When my life is flowing smoothly like this, I am so absorbed in earthly pleasures rather than putting God first in my thoughts. On the contrary, when our lives are in turmoil, Lewis writes, “We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.” Many people today view God like this. For example, after 9/11, people began to pray to God and go to church services. A few years later, these same people stopped because their lives were flowing pleasantly again.

Knowing that it is our tendency to rely on God only in times of need, we must make an effort to rely on God during the good times in our lives also. The way we show our thankfulness for the salvation He has given is to devote our lives to him, and worship Him in any circumstance of life we are in. We may not get angry with God for the trials He sends us because He knows what is best for us and is working all things for the good of our salvation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Man or Rabbit

I really enjoyed this essay. I thought it was very interesting how he addressed the question, “Can a man lead a good life without Christianity?” The reason why this essay is called “Man or Rabbit? Is because what distinguishes man from other animals is that he seeks after knowledge and desires to find answers. Lewis discusses what it really means to live a good life and whether a person ignorant of Christianity is guilty.

I agree with Lewis when he writes about God’s punishment on the wicked, whether they have heard the gospel or not. Often times we wonder about those people who have never heard the gospel, such as the Indians in North America who worshipped nature. People might say that it is not fair because they gospel never came to them, but they will still be punished because they saw God in creation and chose not to worship Him. I believe that these people who have not had the gospel preached to them and are ignorant will be punished, but their punishment will not be as great as those who heard the gospel and “rejected” it. Luke 10:10-12 teaches us that God will have more tolerance in that day for Sodom than the city that rejected the gospel. God chooses His elect from eternity, and to those who He chooses to save, He will find a way to bring the gospel to them.

In class we discussed the justice of God. Some people think that since God is just, predestination is not fair. I believe in predestination because the Bible supports it. God is just because he created the world just. Justice would be paid if everyone went to Hell. We must remember that we do not deserve heaven, but God in His grace decided to save an elect group of people because this is the best way in which He could glorify Himself.

When defining whether any man can lead a good life without Christianity, I agree with Lewis that we must define what good means. An unbeliever can do no good because he is totally depraved. It may seem to us that an unbeliever is doing good, but it is not good because he is doing it for his own glory and happiness, not for the glory of God. The wicked may believe they are living a good life, but their happiness will be short-lived because they are not seeking after the true God. For this reason, I do not believe an unbeliever can live a good life. I like how Lewis says, “…You can’t be ‘good’ (not for twenty-four hours) on you own moral efforts.” Lewis concludes by saying that people cannot leave a good life without Christ.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Plantinga Book – Chapter 4 (Redemption)

In this chapter, Plantinga discusses our redemption that we need because of the fall. When man first fell, he had something to hide and something to fear because of sin, but then God made garments of skins for man to clothe his shame and nakedness (Plantinga 73). God does not leave us to despair in our sin, but in His mercy He sent Christ to atone for our sins so that He sees His people just as if they have never sinned. I agree with Plantinga when he writes, “Sin traps people and makes them wilt; godly obedience liberates people and helps them flourish. The Ten Commandments are guides for a free and flourishing life” (76-77). Often we think that rules tie us down and take away our freedom when they actually take away the burden of sin when we strive to follow God’s commands.

Because of Christ’s incarnation, atonement, and resurrection we are redeemed. Jesus became God in the flesh, and he lived and preached on this earth to bring comfort to His people. He accomplished His work by dying for the sins of His people (John 10:11). He did not die for all men because he does not love all men and try to save all of them, contrary to the belief of many in the world today. Finally, Christ rose from the dead, overcoming the power of death. Plantinga points out that Christian hope rises with Christ because His resurrection showed that God’s grace cannot be defeated, even by death (82).

In His resurrection, “Christ rose as the head of a whole body of people elected to have faith in him” (Plantinga 83). Christ overcame sin and death for us so we live lives of gratitude unto God, knowing we are free from the everlasting punishment of Hell, which we deserve. Plantinga also brings up justification, which is God’s act of forgiving sinners and reconciling them to Himself (90). The way in which we can come closer to Christ is by prayer, sacraments, and listening to the Word of God (Plantinga 93).

I agree with Plantinga when he says that God’s people will demonstrate God’s saving grace in their life by good works (94). Plantinga gives C.S. Lewis’ example in which a child likes to go to a clothes box full of grownup outfits. These clothes are too big, but the child is pretending and preparing to be an adult someday. Likewise, we can only become Christ-like by putting on godly virtues (Plantinga 94).

Finally, Plantinga speaks of our duty to reform all things. Although we may find this ideal to redeem every person and place in the world, this is not going to happen because it is out of the will of God. He only will redeem His people, and the world cannot be made perfect until He destroys this one with fire and makes His new creation. With the Holy Spirit guiding our lives, we are able to be shining examples in this world, reforming various areas of life according to the Word of God. The Bible gives us guidelines in the Ten Commandments, but it does not tell us exactly how to live (Plantinga 108). We must strive to live according to God’s Word to show our lives of thankfulness as redeemed people of God.

The Abolition of Man

This book is only three chapters long. It is one of the best defenses of the natural law tradition in the 20th century. It has to do with the native understanding of right and wrong that is in every human being. Lewis also draws upon the wisdom of the East, and uses the Chinese term TAO as his symbol for the natural law tradition. For today, we focused our attention on Chapter 3, The Abolition of Man. Of all the writings of Lewis that I have read, this piece was the most difficult and confusing.

In chapter 3, Lewis talks about the natural law, which is sense of right and wrong that man has. There is a tremendous common ground between the principles of the natural law. A society would not exist if nobody accepted these moral laws. I agree with Lewis on this matter because he bases his philosophy on the Bible. In Romans 2:14-26, Paul explains how the Gentiles have the law written in their hearts.

Lewis discusses how man has power over nature, but really this power is just man over man. Lewis gives the three typical examples of this: the aeroplane, the wireless, and the contraceptive. I like the example of the contraceptive because it is easy to understand. For example, with abortion man is not only trying to control nature, but he is putting himself in God’s position by killing an innocent human. Man is taking to much power to himself, and this is the same error that Satan fell into. Satan wanted to be like God, and man is passively trying to be God when he takes another man’s life into his own hands.

What we must remember is that God is King over the earth. We must not try to put ourselves in front of the will of God. Christians may use all of the inventions and new technology in our culture, but we must be careful whether we are using these things to the glory of God. As soon as we use technology to put ourselves over God, we must stop using it because this is sin. As Christians, we must also remember the real reason why we obey the natural law, and that is because we love God and have a deep desire to please Him.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Four Loves: Eros

When he was a mature man, Lewis wrote this book about the four loves: storge, philia, Eros, and agape. We only read the part about Eros, which is “the kind of love which lovers are.” Eros is the romantic side of the relationship, where as Venus is the sexual side of the relationship. Eros must come before Venus because Eros is true love for one’s husband or wife.

An important part of Eros is that a man loves a woman because of who she is, rather than the fact that she is a woman (Lewis 133). On page 134, Lewis writes, “Sexual desire, without Eros, wants it, the thing in itself; Eros wants the Beloved.” With Eros a man really wants one particular woman, not a woman and the pleasure she can give. Sexual desire is not true love; this is Venus, which is self-centered. A lover should be too busy thinking of the other person, but not of that person physically. Pleasure is a by-product of Eros.

I really like the following quote of Lewis: “Love ceases to become a demon when he ceases to become a god.” Sometimes people get too caught up in the pleasures of being in love that they make it the top priority in their lives, rather than putting God first. Lewis writes, “Theologians have often feared, in this love, a danger of idolatry” (155). Lewis does not see the idolization of the other person as the real danger, but it is more dangerous to idolize Eros itself.

This love represents the love Christ has for His Church. Song of Solomon is full of verses that paint a picture of the beauty of this love. For example, Song of Solomon 2:14 says, “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.” Christ also speaks sweetly to His Church like this out of great love for her. Lewis writes, “In the act of love, we are not merely ourselves…” Marriage is a picture of Christ’s love, in which Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 5:25). The wife must be submissive to her husband, but the husband must display love and kindness to his wife first, just as Christ has first loved us. In marriage God has given us a garden, but in order to keep this garden alive, the husband and wife must both tend to it. The garden needs constant weeding and watering because it is a continuous fight.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Plantinga Book – Chapter 5 (Vocation in the Kingdom of God)

In this chapter, Plantinga discusses our longing for the kingdom of God and how we must serve God in this life with our talents and our calling. This chapter ties in well with Lewis’ Learning in War-Time because both of these pieces of writing emphasize our importance to continue our education and follow seek out our vocation that glorifies God.

I agree with Plantinga when he says that Christians’ prayers for the kingdom of God sometimes fade when their lives are good. They pray for God’s kingdom to come but not right away because they are enjoying earthly pleasures too much (Plantinga 106). I realize that I do this too often. When God sends me trials or I see the suffering of a close friend, then I long for heaven. When I have vacations and fun things to do, I fail to pray for God’s kingdom to come because I am enjoying life so much.

Plantinga writes that a prime citizen passionately yearns for the kingdom. A child elected by God has been elected to serve the kingdom of God. The first way to fulfill this duty is to belong to an active Christian church (Plantinga 110). We must also take part in government by voting intelligently, paying taxes, and praying for our leaders (Plantinga 111). I agree with Plantinga that we can also play our part as citizens of the kingdom of God by pursuing a higher education in college. God equips each of His children with particular gifts and talents to serve in different areas. Some are made to be doctors, others teachers, others engineers, others to be ministers. All are important for working together in the body of Christ because we each contribute to the kingdom.

I agree with Plantinga when he talks about the importance of a Christian education. The danger comes when we stop talking about God because we think we all know about Him anyways. At a public university, one will have to be better prepared to defend his faith and go out of his way to worship God. At Calvin, the Christian community is all around us, and the professors integrate the Word of God in the classroom. Although this is true, Plantinga writes, “Every Christian community includes some Daniels who made it through the academic dens of confusion and conformity with their kingdom vocation intact and sometimes even purified by the fires of adversity” (125). I realize that at Calvin everyone here comes from different denominations and believes differently. I have actually grown stronger by defending the truth of the gospel against the false interpretations and attacks on essential doctrines, such as creation and salvation. Just because Calvin is a Christian college, it does not mean that everything the professors teach us about God’s Word is true.

Finally, Plantinga writes about three things we need to become prime citizens of the kingdom of God. First, we need knowledge to love God intellectually (Plantinga 129). Second, we gain skills at college to prepare ourselves for living to the glory of God in this world (Plantinga 130). Third, we gain virtues, such as honesty and compassion, to show we are children of the King (Plantinga 132). By combining knowledge, skill, and virtue, we are able to serve the kingdom of God (Plantinga 136). We must work to the best of our ability at college so that we are fully equipped to defend ourselves against the fiery darts of the devil and so that we can follow the vocation God is calling us to.

Learning In-War-Time

This piece of writing is a sermon preached by C.S. Lewis during World War II. Lewis writes that life has never been normal since the fall so learning in wartime should be no different (1). He acknowledges that a Christians might ask himself, “How is it right to spend fraction of the little time allowed them in this world on such comparative trivialities as literature or art, mathematics or biology?” (1). I agree with Lewis and Plantinga (in chapter 5) that it our calling to learn a lot about various subjects during the time He has given us in this earth.

I think that it is very important for a Christian to be well educated. The most important reason to learn in depth is to learn more about God. Just as we grow in friendship with a close friend the more we know about that friend, the more we grow in knowledge of God closer we grow to Him. For this reason, I disagree with Lewis when he says, “If the world were completely Christian, there would be no need to learn” (4). Studying the intricate details and beauty of the human body reveal to us how powerful and wonderful our Creator is.

The other reason why it is essential to be well educated is so that we are at the same level intellectually as the heathen. Lewis writes, “To be ignorant and simple now would be to throw down our weapons…with no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered” (4). We are good examples to our unbelieving neighbors and co-workers if we are able to argue our Christianity logically so that we are able to spread the gospel. It is the calling of a Christian to be educated in many different subjects, including other religions. When we know what other religions and Christian denominations believe, we will be better to tell them why we believe the doctrines that our church teaches.

Although it is very important to pursue knowledge, we must make sure we are doing so humbly and to the glory of God. I like Lewis’ quote, in which he says, “The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us” (3). The reason why this road is not always the safest is because man can become too much absorbed in this knowledge that we forget about God. Lewis writes, “Every success in the scholar’s life increases this danger” (4). Sometimes we forget why we are really learning and begin studying to get good grades or for fame and riches.

Lewis ends his sermon by warning us not to fear death. A teacher in high school once told us, “If you are not ready to die, you are not ready to live.” If we are enjoying earthly pleasures too much, we are not putting our focus on God. God sends us trials to remind us that this earth is not our home. We are pilgrims and strangers traveling on this earth, who must always be aware of our morality.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Poison of Subjectivism

This piece of C.S. Lewis’ writing was the most difficult for me to understand yet. He went very deep, talking about morals and subjectivism. Lewis begins this piece of work by writing, “One cause of misery and vice is always present with us in the greed and pride of men…” He points out that the pride of men will cause them to be subjective, in which these men believe they are the source of knowledge and moral values. Man reasons with his own logic; therefore, there is no reason for supposing that his subjectivism yields truth.

Lewis writes about how our attitudes are produced in a community by the pressure of its environment and its traditions. Sometimes we do not know why we believe something, but we do it because we are socially conditioned to do so. I see this with people in my own church. They say they believe a certain doctrine, such as predestination, but they do not know why. They say they believe it because it is what the church believes. We have to be careful that we do not fall into this same error, but we must have good reasons behind our individual belief system.

The reason subjectivism is dangerous is because the human mind should not invent new values. Our moral values must be based according to the law of God. This is how we know what it right and wrong. Before we start going around and pointing the finger at others, we must look at our own sin. Romans 2:1 says, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” Often times we judge people of other Christian denominations as being wrong on their views. I am guilty of this too because I often try to argue the truth, thinking that I am right, when really I should do so more respectfully and out of love for my neighbor.

Plantinga Book – Chapter 3 (The Fall)

I found this chapter about the corruption of both man and creation because of the fall very interesting, but once again, I disagreed with many of Plantinga’s beliefs. Plantinga writes that evil is what’s wrong with the world, and it include disease, theft, and birth defects. He writes, “Evil is any deviation from the way God want things to be” (51). I disagree because God is omniscient and everything is under His control. God is not the author of sin, but He did plan sin because through salvation is the best way His people can glorify Him. I do agree with Plantinga when he writes, “ Sin grieves God, offends God, betrays God…God hates sin (51).” Just because God hates sin does not mean that it is out of His control. Later on in the book Plantinga questions who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he talks about God’s rescue attempt (62). In Proverbs 21:1 it says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” God planned that Pharaoh’s sin because it is all under His sovereign will.

Continuing with the corruption of sin, Plantinga acknowledges, “Each new generation, and each new person, reaps what others have sown and the sows what others will reap” (53). I agree with this because in Exodus 20:5 God warns, “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Children will suffer in their lifetime for the sins their great-grandparents committed. For example, because of the way our relatives treated black people a hundred years ago, we still have to take the blame and guilt for being cruel to black people. Another example would be that a child born with fetal-alcohol syndrome has to suffer because of his mother’s drinking of alcohol. God takes sin seriously and will bring consequences upon those who disobey His holy law.

One major point that I disagree with Plantinga on is his denial of total depravity. Because of the fall we are totally depraved, meaning we are capable of doing no good without the Holy Spirit that God gives only to the Elect. On the contrary, Plantinga writes that total depravity “doesn’t mean that we are all as nasty as we can be” (58). He claims that the Holy Spirit distributes common grace to pour out good gifts on believers and unbelievers alike (59). This is not true because Proverbs 3:33 says, “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked.” What seems like good gifts and good works of the wicked are really a curse because it leads to their damnation.

Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity is a book that Lewis wrote to bring people to Christianity by logic rather than discussing all kinds of religious doctrines. He states basic beliefs about Christianity in general, rather than trying to bring people to a specific denomination of Christianity. Just because this book is meant to bring others to Christianity does not mean the it does not hold important things for us to learn about. He wrote about how once one is brought to Christianity, he waits in a hallway with many doors. Christians try these many doors to the different denominations to see which one fits best with their beliefs.

I agree with Lewis that we cannot judge on which denomination in the true church because there is no perfect denomination on this earth because it is filled with sin. We must look for the church that is closest to the truth. The marks of the true Church are the following: the true preaching of the gospel, the proper administration of the sacraments, and the exercise of Christian discipline (Belgic Confession, Art. 29). The denomination that I have found to be closest to these three marks is the Protestant Reformed Church, of which I am a confessing member. I do not believe this is the only true church, but I believe that by going there I can best glorify God and grow in my faith.

Although we are called to join ourselves to the true church, we are not called to separate ourselves from others from our denomination. Just like cancer cells, if we stop communicating with our neighbors from other churches, we will spread apart and cause more damage than good. Christ wants His church to be united in the truth, and he gathers His Church from all nations of the world. We need to work out our differences using scripture, rather than cutting others who believe differently out of our lives.

I disagree with Lewis when he says that there are no such things as good and bad impulses. I disagree because even when someone’s impulse is to kill a father who beats his child, this is wrong because Jesus says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15). This verse shows that the desire to murder is just as bad as murder.

Even though I disagreed with Lewis about his denial of good and bad impulses, I did agree with him about how people have lessened the meaning of the word Christian. Just as people now use the word gentleman a term of praise, so people use the word Christian to describe anyone they think is a good man. Because it is so often used in a wrong way, it will speedily become a useless word. We must live our lives as thankful people of God to show what the term Christian really

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Screwtape Letters

This piece of C.S. Lewis was my favorite so far that we have read in this class. We read Letter XII, The Lukewarm Letter, in which Screwtape (Satan) gives advice to his nephew, Wormwood (a demon), how to lead his patient through small habit forming changes that slowly and subtlety leads to Hell. I thought this piece of writing was very interesting because it is written from Satan’s perspective. It’s frightening to see how Satan is actually working to pull us away from our strong desire for God.

Screwtape begins his letter by congratulating Wormwood in the way he is slowly leading his patient away from the church. He warns Wormwood not to move to fast because the patient might realize what he is doing wrong. Screwtape writes that if his dim uneasiness gets too strong it may wake him up and spoil the whole game. Satan wants us to think we are Christians by acting like it outwardly, when really he is slowly bringing us inwardly to him.

Screwtape also writes to Wormwood, “You will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing pleasures as temptations… you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention.” This is how Satan works to tempt us. He offers us pleasures that seem more enjoyable and pleasing to us than worshipping God. He tempts us with vacations that keep us from church, an interesting book that keeps us away from our daily devotions, or a good-looking boyfriend or girlfriend that will lure one away from the church. While these things may fulfill our immediate pleasures, they are really just temptations of Satan that lead us on the path to destruction.

The “Enemy” according to Screwtape is God. Screwtape tells Wormwood that it does not matter that his patient’s sins are small sins, as longs as the patient is being separated from the enemy. He says, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” This is true of many people; they begin to accept more and more worldly things into their lives, and they eventually find no room for God in their lives.

This piece of writing was very interesting because it showed me how people in the church slowly die away from the truth. It is a serious warning to us because we have to be careful of the earthly pleasures that Satan is trying to tempt us with. The more we succumb to these pleasures and commit more and more small sins, the faster we will fall on our way to destruction.

Show & Tell

Today we had show and tell about something that had to do with what we had talked in class. Some people brought quotes, Bible passages, videos, songs, or various objects. I showed a You-Tube video called “Miss Teen USA South Carolina 2007.” This is a true, funny video of the short speech Miss Teen USA after she won. She gives a speech, attempting to sound smart, educated, and caring about the world around her, but she utterly fails and embarrasses herself in front of the whole nation. I thought that this video tied in very well with what we talked about in Our English Syllabus. In this work of Lewis, he emphasizes the importance of learning. He acknowledges the importance of having knowledge in many different subject areas. In the video I showed, we see that if one does not have good background knowledge about the world around him, others will look down and laugh at that person. Education is more important than beauty.
Check this video out at:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Plantinga Book – Chapter 2 (Creation)

This chapter about creation was very interesting. Plantinga made a lot of great points, but there were also many aspects that I disagreed with him about.

The first thing that stood out as interesting to me was when Plantinga wrote, “Creation is neither a necessity nor an accident.” God was not bored because from eternity He has a communal life within himself. Creation is definitely not an accident; rather it is the delicate and careful work of God’s fingers (Psalm 8:3). God created everything He did because He found that this was the best way to glorify Himself. In fact, creation is one of the ways in which God reveals Himself to His people. Article 2 of the Belgic Confession says that the creation is before our eyes as a most elegant book. We have to open this book of creation and examine it with our knowledge, using the scriptures. The more knowledge that a person gains in a particular area, the more he can see the handiwork of God. For example, after I carefully studied the nervous system pathways in anatomy, I discovered how complex the human body and brain is. Only God could have made this wonderful design of our bodies, with all the parts functioning properly.

I loved how Plantinga described how God revels in His creation. God loves and celebrates creation. He even plays with his creation. In this chapter, Daniel Migliore comments, “While the stars, the trees, and the animals do not speak or sing of the glory of God in the same way that humans do, in their own way they too lift up their praises to God…” Plantinga acknowledges that that the singing and breaching of the humpback whale is the language that these great beasts of the deep talk to God.

One thing that I disagreed with Plantinga on was his idea of God resting on the seventh day. Plantinga writes, “On the seventh day God rested and was refreshed, as if even God needs a break from time to time.” God does not need rest; He is eternal and all-powerful. The reason God rested on the seventh day was to reflect on the work that He had done. It is a picture for us. We stop from our daily work on the Sabbath, and we use this day to reflect on God’s glory. It is a picture of the eternal rest we have in Heaven one day.

One other major point that I disagreed with Plantinga was on page 35, where he talks about common grace. He says, “The original goodness of creation implies that all of it, including any human being we meet, is potentially redeemable…so everything made by God retains at least some part of its goodness and promise.” The error of common grace is that it says that God blesses the wicked with “good” things and that unbelieving men are capable of doing civil good.
Romans 3:12 tells us that there is non that doeth good. All men are totally depraved, incapable of any good, until the Holy Spirit works in their hearts. Proverbs 3:33 says, “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked; but He blesseth the habitation of the just.” He only sends blessing to His own sheep, not to the wicked whom He hates.

One last thing that I do not like about this chapter is that Plantinga never states that the creation was a literal seven days. Our group discussed this matter, and many today believe in theistic evoluation, which says that the days of creation were literal, and God let the creation evolve by itself. In the course of our discussion someone said that as long as you believe that God created the world, it doesn’t matter how He did it. Someone else could not believe that I actually believe everything in the Bible to be true. We are at a Christian college, and our basis should be on the Bible. We can not just regard Genesis 1 as a myth because it throws away the authority and truth of the rest of the Bible. When God says, “And the evening and the morning were the first day, etc,” He really means one day, not a thousands years. God’s Word is to be taken seriously, and it is our job to search and defend His truth in every part of the Bible.

Eleonor Rigby

This was a song we listened to in class that tied in with The Weight of Glory. It had a sad, slow tune. The chorus was about all the lonely people around us. The Weight of Glory talked about laying the burden of our neighbors’ glory on our back daily. In order to carry this heavy load, we must have great humility. We look for community in our church, home, and school because we need our friends to support us through our daily struggles. Another thing that I learned from this song was that we must also glorify God in the little things that we do. The widow in this song gathered grains of rice. Whatever our position in this life is, it must be used to the glory of God.

The Weight of Glory

The Weight of Glory is a sermon of C.S. Lewis in which he talks about the glory we look forward to in Heaven. On quote I really liked on the first page was, “Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures…We are far too easily pleased.” We often search to fulfill our desires by earthly means, such as food or earthly relationships. These things cannot fulfill our desires because only in Christ can we be fully satisfied.

One thing that was brought up in group discussion was Lewis’ quote on page 4, “Thought I do not believe (I wish I did) that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will.” At first I thought that this meant the Lewis did not have assurance in his own salvation, but after discussing it, we came to the realization that it meant that desires of heaven will not bring it. The wicked may desire or believe that they are going to heaven, but really they do not have salvation unless the Holy Spirit works in their hearts to turn them unto Christ. I heard of a survey in which 85 percent of people believe that they are going to Heaven. This certainly does not mean that they are all going to Heaven.

Lewis discusses the idea of glory in the sense of appreciation by God. I have never thought of glory in this way. At the end of time God will delight in His people and say to each of them, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” There will be no room for vanity when God praises us because we will be made new, perfect creatures. As new creatures, we will most innocently rejoice in the things God made us to be.

Lewis also talks about the other sense of glory in the sense of how we will shine in brightness, splendor, and luminosity. We will be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, and to become part of it. We will be made perfect creatures, without sin, corruption, and disease.

Not only do I like Lewis’ descriptions of glory, but I also enjoyed the quote, “Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning.” God’s mercies are new to us every morning because the precious blood of Christ has washed our sins away. Christ had to die on the cross before we could receive the crown of life.

The last main point that Lewis talks about is the burden of our neighbor’s glory that we must carry daily. This load is so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. We are to love the sinner, yet hate sin. Lewis writes, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to you senses.” We show love to our neighbor by caring about his salvation and in the way that we help him with struggles throughout life.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our English Syllabus

Our English Syllabus is C.S. Lewis’s views on learning and educational training. Throughout his essay, he describes the difference between education and learning. His main focus is to teach college students how to learn and gain knowledge. Lewis writes that a good education’s purpose is to create a good man. We are to learn for the sake of learning, and by doing this we will enjoy it.

Many people go to college in hope of getting a good degree so that they can get a well-paying career. Others go to college and work extremely hard to get good grades so they can get accepted into med-school. Others may even go to college to find a spouse. Although these things are important, they are not the main reason that we should attend college. College is a place to pursue knowledge, rather than just being taught and going through the motions. We must not ask ourselves, “What will do me most good?” But rather we must ask, “What do I want to know?” We ought to study what fits are interests and what we are good at.

When I choose my major, nursing, I did not base it on what kind of job I wanted to have when I got out of high school. Rather I chose nursing because I wanted to learn more about health, science, diseases, the human body, and how to interact with adults and children. I looked at what my strengths were in choosing this major. Because I am interested in these subjects, I will learn for the sake of learning. When I find something interesting in one of my textbooks, I read it to learn more about it, even if it is not included in the assigned readings.

Learning is a personal choice that often declines in the life of a high school or college student. Part of the decline is because students are forced to take classes that they are not interested in, and teachers write a syllabus that tells the student exactly what he needs to do, which makes less room for creativity. Calvin College is a liberal arts school, which means we take classes in all areas. Right now we may not see how all these classes are helping us, but later on we will realize that this liberal arts education is a great benefit to our learning.

Young children explore new things and are free to learn everything through their play. As a young adult, I can also learn better this way. For example, in biology and chemistry labs, we are allowed to experiment with different things to learn the solution by trying new things. Also, in college and grad school, students often get the opportunity to do research with the professors. By doing this kind of research, the student has to think and explore by himself, without being told exactly what to do. Knowledge is exploration and challenging one’s mind to gain a better understanding of the world around him.

The Logical Song

Today was the first time that I have ever listened to this song. I liked the up-beat tune, and when I actually listened carefully to the words, I realized that the meaning was deep. When we were young, we had so much freedom and few worries, but as we grow older, we search for a sense of self-identification. We ask others to tell us who we are; society forms us into who we are so that we are “acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!” We live our lives just going through the motions. Instead of just living our lives by repeating our actions day by day, we should have the sense of quidity. Quidity means that we give our all and have joy in whatever we are doing. Each day the Lord gives us a new day, and we should use it to serve him to our fullest

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We Have No Right to Happiness

This article begins with a woman, Clare, who gives her view about a man’s right to happiness. Mr. A divorced Mrs. A to marry Mrs. B so that he could have happiness. Mr. A says that he has a right to happiness and that he had to take his one chance when it came. Since Mr. A did this once, he may have the same reason to divorce Mrs. B in a year or so for the same reason.

Lewis argues that this right of happiness doesn’t make any more sense than a right to be six feet tall or to get good weather whenever you want to have a picnic. Lewis writes about the Law of Nature and how the laws of the nation are based on this law. Having a right to happiness does not mean that a man has the right to do whatever he has a right to according to the laws of the nation.

I agree with Lewis when he describes how Mr. A’s action is an offense against good faith, against gratitude, and against common humanity. A man has no right to happiness if his action takes away the right of happiness of another person. By divorcing his wife, Mr. A hurt Mrs. A and took away her happiness. Love and happiness is a choice we all have to make. Before marriage, a man and a woman marry choose to marry because they are in love. In marriage, a husband and wife choose to love because they are married. This brings long-lasting happiness in a marriage and makes the bond stronger.

One thing that I disagree with in this work of Lewis is the fact that Lewis does not mention that we must follow the law of God to be happy. God’s law forbids divorce so if Mr. A can pursue happiness as long as he does not disobey God. Living in sin will not bring happiness. This is why unbelievers in this world search and search to find happiness in earthly things, but nothing can satisfy fully. Our pursuit of happiness must not be selfish, but it must be sought in love for Jesus Christ and others. God wants us to be happy. In Psalm 100, we are commanded to serve the Lord with gladness. Our pursuit of happiness will be fulfilled when we truly desire the love of God.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Plantinga Book – Chapter 1 (Longing and Hope)

In this chapter, Plantinga discusses the longing and hope that is in all of us. He writes about how many know what it feels like to yearn, whether that is a feeling of sadness on the last day of summer or listening to a particular piece of music that makes a person ache. Lewis observes that when we have Sehnsucht (the German word for human longing or yearning), we are seeking union with something from which we are separated. These longings are unfulfillable because in our life we always want more. It is our human nature to want more and more earthly items that are not necessary to live.

Not only do we yearn for those things we do not have, but Plantinga also writes about Nostaglia, which is a yearning for what is over now. We look back and wish we could be in the easy, carefree days of childhood, or we wish we would have done something different in the past. It is important that we do not focus on the past. If a farmer with a plow looks back on his field instead of looking forward, his line will be crooked. So we must also focus on the present situation in our lives so that we are able to whole-heartedly focus on serving God today.

Plantinga also writes about Augustine, who searched for the final target of human longing. I disagree with Plantinga when he says, “What Augustine knew is that human beings want God. In fact, humans want union with God.” I believe that the unbelieving men long for something because God has revealed himself in creation, but I do not think that they want to have union with God. Romans 8:7 teaches us, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The hearts of the wicked are hardened so they are not able to bear the image of God and desire a union with Him.

Another point that I found important was when Plantinga discussed Shalom, which is a certain peace, universal flourishing, and it is the way things are supposed to be. The only way one may experience shalom is to have hope in Christ. Without the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts and giving us assurance of our salvation, we can not have this blessed hope. Lord’s Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What is thy only comfort in life and death?” It answers this question by saying, “ That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ…” This beautiful answer of the Catechism gives us an eternal hope, and we have nothing to fear when we belong unto our Savior.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


This work of C.S. Lewis is very complex and difficult to understand. This article that I read said that Bulverism is “a term coined by C.S. Lewis to describe the state of public discourse and debate in the 20th century thought.” This principle assumes that a person is wrong without any logical discussion. This essay has discusses reason, cause, and tainted thoughts. It involves deep thinking and allows us to understand how we are able to go about proving things.

Lewis writes that we exist in two senses. The Freudians say we exist as bundles of complexes, while the Marxians say that we exist as members of some economic class. Lewis says, “Their thoughts are tainted at the source.” Lewis goes on to question whether all thoughts or some thoughts are tainted at the source and how we find out which ones are tainted and which are not. To demonstrate his point, Lewis gives the example of his large balance in his bank account. If someone wanted to validate this, he would have to find out what is arithmetically incorrect or correct. A person can only prove him wrong on arithmetical grounds. A man needs to be shown why he is wrong before someone starts explaining why he is wrong.

C.S. Lewis explains that reason can play no effective part in human affairs until Bulverism is crushed. To do this, you must reason to even bulverize. A reason is a special kind of cause. Lewis writes, “ Bulverism tries to show that the other man has causes and not reasons and that we have reasons and not causes.” He gives the example of a fictional man named Bulver. Bulverism began when Bulver heard his mother say to his father, “You say this because you are a man.” An argument based on a bias against a certain group has no substance behind it.

Lewis points out that the mind is affected by physical events, but thought has no father but thought. Something beyond nature exists. Will and reason can only depend on themselves, but nature can depend on Will and Reason, showing God exists.

This essay really makes us think about what it means to think, rationalize, and reason. When we discuss with others who disagree with us, our goal should be to understand the truth more fully rather than trying to win. It all winds back to God, who created nature. With our human minds, we can not fully understand reasons, causes, and thinking. Romans 11:33 says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” God made our minds complex to reflect part of the complexity of His own nature. We must use our minds and our reasoning to learn more about God because He calls us to seek after His Truth.

Meditation in A Toolshed

I have never read much of C.S. Lewis’ works, but I found this piece of writing very interesting. This work shows that he is a very deep, intellectual man who really understands life. Meditation in a Toolshed is about Lewis’ experience of looking at and along the light beam. He makes an analogy of this to many aspects in our lives.

To clarify his point, Lewis gives the example of a young man in love. This man looks at his girl in a different way than the world does. He is “looking along the light beam.” The world is looking “at the light beam.” A person can not fully understand love when he has not been in love himself. Lewis also gives the example of pain. Someone cannot look at pain and know what it is unless he has experienced suffering. He needs to look at pain from the outside and inside to study and understand pain.

Lewis’ analogy of looking at and along the light beam also points to a greater biblical truth. The light beam comes from the sun so that we can see everything clearly. Looking at the light beam alone will not do us any good. The sun pictures Christ and His Word. By Him, we look along the light beam to see the world around us so that we can gain knowledge of Him. This requires wisdom, and the only way in which we can gain wisdom through learning is by humility. We need to listen to others around us because by ourselves, we can see only in part. With the advice of others, we can see different aspects of our life more clearly and understand ourselves as children of God.