Lewis: The Apologist
C.S. Lewis — Mere Christianity
Lewis: The Apologist
Polarizing, yet popular. CS Lewis has been read, quoted, debated and nuanced for the last half century. Our previous post was devoted to giving background to Lewis and introducing one of his most famous works, Mere Christianity. But who was Lewis as an apologist?
Apologetics is a defense of a certain set of beliefs. You can have apologetics for the effectiveness of crossfit, a religion, a political ideology, or why the ’96 Huskers truly were the best college football team of all time. An apologist is simply someone who defends their beliefs and values.
Christian apologetics, then, is the defense of the faith. When most people think of apologetics in the Christian world, you might think of arguments for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, or the reliability of the Bible. Mere Christianity, for example, begins with a moral argument for the existence of God. This writing would be a form of apologetics.
What we are interested in presently, is looking at Lewis as an apologist. What was his view on defending the Christian faith, and what was his impact?
Faith & Work (A Brief Conversation)
Some of CS Lewis’s most famous quotes reside in one of his most famous works: Mere Christianity. However, I must admit that while I skimmed through this book as a new Christian years ago, I have not read it since.
Quoted from it, absolutely. Engaged with the actual work, not exactly.
This January, I picked up Mere Christianity for a class I’m taking on its author, CS Lewis. I had as much familiarity with vaguely remembering of an argument about Jesus being liar, lunatic or Lord. Yet as I read, it was not what I thought it would be, in mostly good ways.
Maybe you have read it years ago, or you have skimmed it like me, or your only interaction with it is your pastor’s quarterly CS Lewis quote from it. No matter your familiarity with it, great benefit can come from adding it to your to-read list in 2019.
Here’s a brief summary, a few personal takeaways, and who I’d recommend to read this book this year.
The Heart of Discipline
If we have ever thought about how Christianity intersects with our career, we most likely have asked the question “How does God fit into my work?” For many of us, if we think about being a faithful Christian at work that most likely means we feel the pressure to evangelize. But what if there is a better understanding of the mission of God and our work?
Instead of asking how God fits into our work, we want to reframe our thoughts to see how our work fits into the story and plan of God. Whether you are a pastor, stay-at-home mom, engineer, plumber, teacher, lawyer, photographer, or anything else in between, your work fits into the story of God. To be faithful Christians in our city, it is going to take a deeper understanding of how our work furthers the mission of God.
Justin Curtis helps us think through the beginning of the conversation in this week’s podcast. After you listen, would you consider joining our Mission and Work class on Thursday mornings in May? We want to start the conversation of what it looks like to be faithful to the mission while at work.
Justin Curtis can be reached at email@example.com
Omaha Faith & Work Collaborative's Next Event
"The Problem With our Work"
4.25.19 | 6-8p | Thrasher Corporate Headquarters (11844 Valley Ridge Dr. Papillion, NE 68046)
Providence's "The Mission & Work" Class
Thursday Mornings in May | Pella Building in Blackstone (303 S. 41st St. Omaha, NE 68131)
To be disciplined means to train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.
If I want to work out more, I must be disciplined. If I want to eat better, I must be disciplined. If I want to learn how to play the guitar, I must be disciplined. But will I achieve these things if I simply put my mind to the task? An important piece missing from the above definition is motivation.
We like to think we can simply discipline ourselves to do anything, but I’ve been trying to learn guitar for the past two years and I think all of us would agree that what I have to show for it is pretty embarrassing. Proof that my motivation to play Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin isn’t enough to master the guitar. Our motivation must run deep enough to support our pursuit of discipline. We might know intellectually that something is right, good or that it would be enjoyable to pursue, but we won’t follow through unless our hearts are there too.
What about spiritual disciplines?
In an ever-polarized world, there is an internal polarization that we all feel to be true. While often our society is divided on issues of politics, race, gender and border control, there is a deeper division that we experience and share only with those closest to us. That is the division between our heart and our mind. It seems as though we are sent mixed messages between following our heart and following our mind. Regardless of your religious leanings, you are probably prone to place one of these over the other. And if I were to bet which you have placed above the other, I would bet your equation looks like this “mind > heart.”
If you are an a-religious type you might think of the famous quote by Rene Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.”
If you are the religious type you might think of the famous Old Testament passage Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Point and case, right?
The Importance of Apologetics
Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the season of Lent. For many of us, this season may mean little more than faint memories of noticing some coworkers walk around with dirt on their foreheads, going to fish fry’s on Fridays, or seeing the sanctuary draped in purple for a few Sundays.
However, the season of Lent is not merely a ritual of the traditional churches we once attended, but a historical practice of the Christian Church for almost 2,000 years. Therefore, we want to consider how we can join in with the historic church and celebrate the season of Lent this year together.
Serving Immigrants & Refugees
Apologetics is not, as it might sound, apologizing for one’s faith. Rather, the word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which means a defense of one’s opinions or beliefs. If theology is the study of what one believes about God, then apologetics is the study of why one believes what they believe about God. If this is what we mean by apologetics, then all Christians are apologists! We all have some reason why we are Christians. The important questions are: what are those reasons, and are they any good?
Is Nationalism Biblical?
Shane and I both grew up in the church and were blessed to feel the need for Christ early in our lives. Shane had a more devout idea of his life calling than I did as a child. He saw himself building houses in Africa, while I wanted to be single and run a farm for displaced cheetahs. Nothing against cheetah farmers, but God has since given us a calling as a couple, and now as a family, to invest in a population close to His heart: immigrants and refugees.
Taking the Next Step
As strange as it is for a Brit to be writing a blog post on nationalism so recently after ‘Independence day,’ I do want to say that apart from the unfortunate episode of wasting perfectly good tea by tipping it into the sea (a crime few Brits can condone), there are no hard feelings!
On a more serious note, anything that has a hint of nationalism at the moment is, in light of recent cultural tensions, more than a little controversial. Monument wars, protectionism, the rise of the Alt-right, the counter movement of Black Lives Matter on one side of the Atlantic and Brexit, the global refugee crisis, and cries for harder national borders on our side, have all made nationalism a touchy subject.
So is nationalism biblical? What should be our thoughts about nationalist tendencies?
To answer this, we need to briefly unpack the biblical understanding of identity and how it relates to this issue.
My wife Debbie and I are typically long-term planners. Organized, figured out, written down. We plan our steps in the direction that our heart beats, knowing all along that God may choose to redirect us. And though spontaneity is not a daily occurrence in our marriage, flexibility and spontaneity is a required component as we serve the Lord. Our intent is to let God steer our moving heart. He has placed within each of us a passion to follow Christ, pursue our God-given gifting, and at the same time, allow Him to have the freedom to direct our steps. We also allow each other space to serve in the areas of our strength. We are a team even though, at times, we minister in different areas. As Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one for they have a good reward for their labor.”