Tag Archives: mere christianity

Believing things on authority (C.S. Lewis)

What are the implications of this paragraph from C.S. Lewis in ‘mere Christianity’? Or is there a way to disagree with this?

Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority–because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.



Why do we need a State?

There’s a lot of discussion about the role of the state in some circles nowadays, and sometimes when we look at world politics like there are a lot of ‘higher goals’ which are very important, so important that a lot of people can be sacrificed to it.

(In reality most of those goals boil down to money and power of certain people or groups of people though, and most likely this means trouble for other groups of people…)

I’d surely add a responsibility for the rest of creation, for the nature and all of the non-human earthlings to the ordinary human beings, but besides from that, if there is any need for a state, it would be something like what C.S. Lewis describes here:

“It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects — military, political, economic and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden — that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.” -C.S. Lewis (mere christianity)

And I’m afraid that they are not just a waste of time, but of energy, money, and sometimes lives of people or whole masses are wasted for our shabby human politics…

If you high and lofty goals do not “promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life” and take care of nature and our non-human fellow earthlings, they’re not even worth considering…

what do you think?



a society built on usury

This C.S. Lewis passage and the current economic crisis make me wonder.

There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest—what we call investment—is the basis of our whole system. Now it may not absolutely follow that we are wrong. Some people say that when Moses and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in forbidding interest (or “usury” as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only dunking of the private moneylender, and that, therefore, we need not bother about what they said.

That is a question I cannot decide on. I am not an economist and I simply do not know whether the investment system is responsible for the state we are in or not This is where we want the Christian economist But I should not have been honest if I had not told you that three great civilisations had agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing on which we have based our whole
life. (C.S. Lewis in mere Christianity)

I’ll add some of Rob Bell before stating my case:

l was traveling in Turkey awhile back and kept noticing that a large number of the homes there seemed unfinished. Piles of wood and brick beside the house, half a foundation built,  construction equipment everywhere. It looked like a lot of homes had been started and then the workers went to lunch… for a year. l asked my friend, who has spent a lot of time in Turkey, about it. He said the reason is that the Mustim culture doesn’t allow for financial debt, so people only build with cash. They work for a while, run out of money, save up, keep working, and eventuaüy get the house done, which they own, debt-free. l was struck with how different Western culture would be if we had a similar aversion to debt. How many people do we know who are crippled with financial debt? Having less debt is a better way to live. l affirm this value of the Muslim people of Turkey because it is true, it is good, and it is a better way to live. (Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis)

so maybe our financial crisis is just the logical outcome of our house built on quicksand: a financial system built on usury. Is there any Christian economist who aswered Lewis’ question without taking our western culture for granted?

If this is sin. We may have to repent. How? What can we learn from the jubilee-laws in the torah? How do we have to be ‘not conformed to the world’ in this?

And can we be good news to the people who are the victims of this monster? Maybe if we’d really be as radical as the first christians (or shane Claiborne ) it would really make a difference.

I don’t know. So much questions, no answers,…