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Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

Abraham Lincoln speaks out against Protestantism

Postby rusmeister » 22 May 2010, 03:18

From his first inaugural address, and highly relevant to Christian unity:

Abraham Lincoln wrote:From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it? All who cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this. 23
Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new union as to produce harmony only and prevent renewed secession? 24
Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.


Now of course there is a practical limitation to the analogy, and it is that Christianity is not a democracy and truth is not established on the democratic principle. However, a church is an body politic no less than a democracy, though its politics be otherworldly, and Lincoln's words certainly describe exactly what has happened to the once-unified Christian Church since the Great Schism, as the Roman Catholic Church discovered when they broke with the Eastern Church, only to ultimately have the first "reformers" secede from them in turn, and people seceding from the first reformers, and more people seceding from them until by now all western Christians are thoroughly seceded from each other that continued break-up goes almost unnoticed.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Matthew Whaley » 23 May 2010, 19:32

I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. I see today much more cooperation and mutual encouragement between denomintions that I would not have thought possible 30 years ago; even between Protestant and Catholics. Even the controversy over gay clergy has brought together, not divided the various Christian denominations and church bodies. In other countries besides the US it may be different, though.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 24 May 2010, 02:58

Matthew Whaley wrote:I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. I see today much more cooperation and mutual encouragement between denomintions that I would not have thought possible 30 years ago; even between Protestant and Catholics. Even the controversy over gay clergy has brought together, not divided the various Christian denominations and church bodies. In other countries besides the US it may be different, though.


They words there are "I don't see" suggest something that I think may be the case.
Your comment indicates that your historical view is rather telescoped, and possibly limited to your own personal experience over your lifetime.
A minor comment would be that your idea that controversy over "gay" clergy (an abominable euphemism; I no longer use it) brings Christians together strange, to say the least. Certainly it displays no knowledge of what has happened, for example, in the Anglican Communion, especially over happenings in the US Episcopal Church - and that's just one example.

But the real response is that any cooperation and mutual encouragement between denominations - which pales next to where they are not united (even the pan-Christian Manhattan Declaration got only a fraction of the signatures it should have) is a joke compared to the cooperation and mutual encouragement within a united Church and between united parishes. When all share the same doctrine, when on issues of doctrine no individual can come to a different doctrine and remain part of the Church, then you have REAL basis for cooperation and mutual encouragement - and this is something that really existed in the Church, despite serious battles from time to time within the Church (Arianism, iconoclasts, etc etc).

I'm more impressed when a person shows significant knowledge of Church history prior to the Reformation. It's much harder to avoid the conclusions I have come to if you do.

And what about Abraham Lincoln?
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Matthew Whaley » 24 May 2010, 04:14

I was thinking more in the community where I have lived in the last 30 years and where I grew up. It seemed to me that every church and denomination were in competition with each other. I don't see that anymore; instead there is mutual respect in spite of different worship styles and minor differences in doctrine. I apologize for using that euphenism and I admit that my perspective is telescoped.

Abraham Lincoln was proved right; during the Civil War, Georgia threatened to secede from the Confederacy. Some of the other southern states also had misgivings about how much power the central government in Richmond had been given.

Do you recommend any books and authors on early Church history?
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby wondawomen » 24 May 2010, 12:50

What a wonderful discussion. As a very young Christian in the 1950s, the battle between Protestant and Catholic was still raging in my small town. Both preached from the pulpet that the other was wrong. I knew that was wrong even then. While attending Concordia and finding Mere Christianity as a required reading, I became an instant CS Lewis fan. The different rooms in the hall section has solidified my belief that God is far wiser then we. We try to wrap our understanding around a small god by limiting who He chooses to be part of His church.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 24 May 2010, 16:06

Matthew Whaley wrote:I was thinking more in the community where I have lived in the last 30 years and where I grew up. It seemed to me that every church and denomination were in competition with each other. I don't see that anymore; instead there is mutual respect in spite of different worship styles and minor differences in doctrine. I apologize for using that euphenism and I admit that my perspective is telescoped.

Abraham Lincoln was proved right; during the Civil War, Georgia threatened to secede from the Confederacy. Some of the other southern states also had misgivings about how much power the central government in Richmond had been given.

Do you recommend any books and authors on early Church history?


The one I think best is "The Orthodox Church" by Timothy Ware. While admittedly Orthodox* in approach, it does touch on all of the main facts that most people would agree are actually a part of history, like it or not, and is written in plain terms - for general audiences. To read the whole thing, you'd have to buy or borrow it, but here are significant excerpts: the first part on history, the second part on practice.

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets ... ware_1.htm

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets ... ware_2.htm

*Any approach by any historian is going to assume the truth of the historian's POV, however well they dance to hide it. Better to have it out in the open so you have the chance to think, "Is this true?"
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 24 May 2010, 16:14

wondawomen wrote:What a wonderful discussion. As a very young Christian in the 1950s, the battle between Protestant and Catholic was still raging in my small town. Both preached from the pulpet that the other was wrong. I knew that was wrong even then. While attending Concordia and finding Mere Christianity as a required reading, I became an instant CS Lewis fan. The different rooms in the hall section has solidified my belief that God is far wiser then we. We try to wrap our understanding around a small god by limiting who He chooses to be part of His church.

This is actually very Orthodox thinking. We say that we know where the grace of God is, we do not know where it is not.

You also have to remember that Orthodoxy is completely outside of the Catholic - Protestant paradigm. From that POV, the Catholic Church broke away from the other Church centers in 1054 (simplified version), went wrong, bringing about a proper reaction to wrongs in that (Roman) Church, which went in the wrong directions ( for example, individual authority to interpret scripture and understand and expound on complex theological questions regardless of knowledge or experience, and most of all, without reference to (Holy) Tradition (as opposed to "traditions of men"). Whereas the Orthodox Church just kept going on doing what it had always been doing, as the actual keepers of paradosis - again, acknowledging that God can save whom He will, and that membership in the Orthodox Church is no guarantee of salvation - but it sure puts you in the clearest frame of understanding to get there!

We admire Lewis because he is very nearly Orthodox. Where he departs from Orthodoxy is in his essential denial of the importance of a physically present Church "Mere Christianity". In everything else, he says what the Orthodox Church says.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Theophilus » 24 May 2010, 17:53

Cooperation between different churches or denominations can be good or bad depending on what issues they disagree on. Jude said in verse 3, "I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." If a church teaches or practices something that is clearly contrary to the Bible we must oppose them and warn others of their false teaching. Disputes between churches are only wrong if they concern something that isn't an essential part of Christian teaching. Romans 14:1-12 shows that there are some differences that aren't important enough to cause divisions.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Matthew Whaley » 24 May 2010, 21:59

Theophilus wrote:Cooperation between different churches or denominations can be good or bad depending on what issues they disagree on. Jude said in verse 3, "I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." If a church teaches or practices something that is clearly contrary to the Bible we must oppose them and warn others of their false teaching. Disputes between churches are only wrong if they concern something that isn't an essential part of Christian teaching. Romans 14:1-12 shows that there are some differences that aren't important enough to cause divisions.


Yes. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Eph 4:3

And thank you, rusmeister, for the links. I will find that book.

From the 8th Century until the 16th, the Roman Catholic Church or any Christian Church has never had since, the civil, political, and military power as well as the material wealth it once posessed; this should also be taken into account.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 25 May 2010, 03:06

Theophilus wrote:Cooperation between different churches or denominations can be good or bad depending on what issues they disagree on. Jude said in verse 3, "I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." If a church teaches or practices something that is clearly contrary to the Bible we must oppose them and warn others of their false teaching. Disputes between churches are only wrong if they concern something that isn't an essential part of Christian teaching. Romans 14:1-12 shows that there are some differences that aren't important enough to cause divisions.

And if they DO concern something that IS an essential part of Christian teaching? What then? Is the dispute right? Are both sides right?

The only way to determine who is right is to appeal to authority. In court, one can refer to a legal document (such as the Constitution) to claim legal rights, for example, but one cannot appeal to the document as authority to decide what the document means. If there is a dispute about what the document means, appeals must be made to an authority that can speak, that can weigh and consider the disagreements and render a verdict that all must submit to, like it or not. That is the only way to hold a body politic together in case of dispute, Authority. The Bible is truly a holy thing - but it is not capable of self-interpretation. People understand things based on their own knowledge and experience or - just as true - the lack thereof. In the case of the Bible the latter is more true. You are reading a translation from ancient languages grounded in ancient cultures far removed in many senses from what we, 20th/21st century English speakers, know and understand.

Personally, I think people who don't know a second language and culture well, and who have not encountered the problems of translation first-hand, have a poor grasp on the nature of cultural understandings and the problems of translation. There are so many things that do not translate at all - that need an entire paragraph - or chapter - or more to explain a single word. There are assumptions about the world, life, morality, etc, that we know longer share. We ourselves have only lived 20, 30, 40 or 50 years in a fairly limited context and generally know very little about ancient cultures, even if we have read about them. Reading about them from our own cultural understandings is not the same as living that culture, speaking that language in that context, and really getting first-hand what the author is talking about.

And the Bible is a special case, for we read it, not only because it is an interesting and educational historical document, but we propose building an entire scheme of life based on the teachings we find there.

In short, without authority to explain what this is, what that is, and what everything written is, we have a snowball's chance in hell of correctly understanding the Bible well enough to be able to do that. None of us live long enough to learn everything we'd need to know. It has to be a divine institution, and one that has a physical impact and presence - one that can actually talk to us and do that explaining, via its holy Tradition (2 Thess 2:15 - since some people confuse it with 'traditions of men' ).
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 25 May 2010, 03:22

Matthew Whaley wrote:
Theophilus wrote:Cooperation between different churches or denominations can be good or bad depending on what issues they disagree on. Jude said in verse 3, "I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." If a church teaches or practices something that is clearly contrary to the Bible we must oppose them and warn others of their false teaching. Disputes between churches are only wrong if they concern something that isn't an essential part of Christian teaching. Romans 14:1-12 shows that there are some differences that aren't important enough to cause divisions.


Yes. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Eph 4:3

And thank you, rusmeister, for the links. I will find that book.

From the 8th Century until the 16th, the Roman Catholic Church or any Christian Church has never had since, the civil, political, and military power as well as the material wealth it once possessed; this should also be taken into account.


What of it? It had no civil, political, or military power for the first 3 centuries, either. The Orthodox Church was politically dominated as completely under Islam as it was under Rome, with only the Russian Orthodox Church free from Islamic domination for several centuries.

To me, speaking of an ephemeral Church - a purely ephemeral Church with no practical effect - as something "out there", perhaps mystically present but having no effect on what we do, what we believe, what doctrines we teach and what practices we hold - is to make the Church of no effect. It would be like saying that the American nation is wherever you are, it is not a thing with defined borders and authority within those borders, it's whatever you see it to be. It means whatever you want it to mean. It's purely a phantasmal imagination that varies from person to person. You may have a conception of it, and your neighbor in a different church has a completely different conception. Who's to say who's right, on understanding either what the Bible means or what the Church is? With the (purely) ephemeral Church, the answer is "Nobody".

It'd be interesting to hear your take on Ware's book!
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby archenland_knight » 25 May 2010, 13:52

Image

This whole "The EOC is the True Church That Christ Began" debate has been waged over and over again here. Poor Matthew wasn't around back before the "Religion, Science, & Philosophy" thread was alive, so he didn't get experience that.

Anyway, am I the only person whose feelings about his topic are depicted by this image?
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Matthew Whaley » 25 May 2010, 14:59

:lol: I love that image! I was very fortunate when I became a believer in Christ more than 30 years ago. I became involved in a para-church organization that had me studying, memorizing, and teaching the Bible for about 10 years. Though anyone can twist the meaning of any scripture, (look at Satan and how he tempted Jesus) the truth is unmistakeable. If anyone is honest and wants to know what the Bible really says, he or she can interpret scripture for themselves with the aid of the Holy Spirit acting upon their conscience. The Church has no borders just a He said;" ...where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am with them."
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby maralewisfan » 25 May 2010, 15:53

I am currently in a World Religions class, part of the requirement in my college, and have also been curious about Lewis' views on some of the other religions (if any). Unfortunately, in my opinion, the text required has far too much Eastern (Asian religious) influence by the author. When discussing Christianity, quotes by gurus that practice Sikhism are not really relevant IMO. Anyway, if someone knows of a good book that addresses the original issue of Lewis' opinions of some of the other religions I would appreciate a link or title.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Theophilus » 25 May 2010, 16:02

rusmeister wrote:The only way to determine who is right is to appeal to authority. In court, one can refer to a legal document (such as the Constitution) to claim legal rights, for example, but one cannot appeal to the document as authority to decide what the document means.
What if the decision by the authorities clearly contradicts what the document plainly says? Federal courts in the US have made decisions which I think are contrary to the Constitution. I have to submit to these interpretations because the government has the power to enforce them, but that isn't the case when it comes to interpreting the Bible.

The Bible itself teaches that we should resist religious authorities when they go against the Bible. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for having traditions that contradicted God's word and for teaching their doctrines as if they were commands of God. The apostles often refused to submit to the Jewish religious leaders when they ordered them to do something contrary to God's commands.

There is one major difference between the Bible and a human document such as the Constitution. We can communicate directly with the author of the Bible and ask him to help us understand it.
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