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God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics by C.S. Lewis
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“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)
“If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“Nothing is wonderful except in the abnormal, and nothing is abnormal until we have grasped the norm.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“If war is ever lawful, then peace is sometimes sinful.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“The greatest barrier I have met is the almost total absence from the minds of my audience of any sense of sin... The early Christian preachers could assume in their hearers, whether Jews, Metuentes, or Pagans, a sense of guilt. (That this was common among Pagans is shown by the fact that both Epicureanism and the mystery religions both claimed, though in different ways, to assuage it.) Thus the Christian message was in those days unmistakably the Evangelium, the Good News. It promised healing to those who knew they were sick. We have to convince our hearers of the unwelcome diagnosis before we can expect them to welcome the news of the remedy.

The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are quite reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge; if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“There is always the danger that those who think alike should gravitate together into ‘coteries’ where they will henceforth encounter opposition only in the emasculated form of rumor that the outsiders say thus and thus. The absent are easily refuted, complacent dogmatism thrives, and differences of opinion are embittered by group hostility. Each group hears not the best, but the worst, that the other groups can say.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be; if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be a myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“I believe that any Christian who is qualified to write a good popular book on any
science may do much more by that than by any direct apologetic work…. We can
make people often attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so; but
the moment they have gone away from our lecture or laid down our article, they
are plunged back into a world where the opposite position is taken for granted….
What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by
Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent. You can see this most
easily if you look at it the other way around. Our faith is not very likely to be
shaken by any book on Hinduism. But if whenever we read an elementary book
on Geology, Botany, Politics, or Astronomy, we found that its implications were
Hindu, that would shake us. It is not the books written in direct defense of
Materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materialistic
assumptions in all the other books. In the same way, it is not books on
Christianity that will really trouble him. But he would be troubled if, whenever he
wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science, the best work on the
market was always by a Christian.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“we follow One who stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus-not surely, because He was grieved that Mary and Martha wept, and sorrowed for their lack of faith (though some thus interpret) but because death, the punishment of sin, is even more horrible in his eyes than in ours.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“The people who keep asking if they can't lead a decent life without Christ, don't know what life is about; if they did they would know that 'a decent life' is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“This is our dilemma--either to taste and not to know or to know and not to taste--or, more strictly, to lack one kind of knowledge because we are in an experience or to lack another kind because we are outside it. [. . .] Of this tragic dilemma myth is the partial solution. In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to experiencing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“When I was a youngster, all the progressive people were saying, “Why all this prudery? Let us treat sex just as we treat all our other impulses.” I was simple-minded enough to believe they meant what they said. I have since discovered that they meant exactly the opposite. They meant that sex was to be treated as no other impulse in our nature has ever been treated by civilized people. All the others, we admit, have to be bridled. Absolute obedience to your instinct for self-preservation is what we call cowardice; to your acquisitive impulse, avarice. Even sleep must be resisted if you’re a sentry. But every unkindness and breach of faith seems to be condoned provided that the object aimed at is “four bare legs in a bed.”

It is like having a morality in which stealing fruit is considered wrong—unless you steal nectarines.

And if you protest against this view you are usually met with chatter about the legitimacy and beauty and sanctity of “sex” and accused of harboring some Puritan prejudice against it as something disreputable or shameful. I deny the charge. Foam-born Venus … golden Aphrodite … Our Lady of Cyprus… I never breathed a word against you. If I object to boys who steal my nectarines, must I be supposed to disapprove of nectarines in general? Or even of boys in general? It might, you know, be stealing that I disapproved of.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“It's not a question of God `sending' us to Hell. In each of us there is something growing up which will of itself be Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)
tags: hell
“The real pacificus is he who promotes peace, not he who gasses about it.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“A man really ought to say, ‘The Resurrection happened two thousand years ago’ in the same spirit in which he says, ‘I saw a crocus yesterday.’ Because we know what is coming behind the crocus.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“Some people say it is morbid to be always thinking of one’s own faults. That would be all very well if most of us could stop thinking of our own without soon beginning to think about those of other people. For unfortunately we enjoy thinking about other people’s faults: and in the proper sense of the word ‘morbid’, that is the most morbid pleasure in the world.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“To the Materialist things like nations, 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 the creatures of a day.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“But if naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes. Therefore, all thoughts would be equally worthless. Therefore, naturalism is worthless. If it is true, then we can know no truths. It cuts its own throat.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“Because we love something else more than this world we love even this world better than those who know no other.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“We shall all admit that a man who knows no Greek himself cannot teach Greek to his form: but it is equally certain that a man whose mind was formed in a period of cynicism and disillusion, cannot teach hope or fortitude.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“If you make the adults of today Christian, the children of tomorrow will receive a Christian education. What a society has, that, be sure, and nothing else, it will hand on to its young.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“I couldn’t believe that nine-hundred and ninety-nine religions were completely false and the remaining one true. In reality, Christianity is primarily the fulfilment of the Jewish religion, but also the fulfilment of what was vaguely hinted in all the religions at their best. What”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“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.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“It is part of the nature of a strong erotic passion—as distinct from a transient fit of appetite—that makes more towering promises than any other emotion. No doubt all our desires makes promises, but not so impressively. To be in love involves the almost irresistible conviction that one will go on being in love until one dies, and that possession of the beloved will confer, not merely frequent ecstasies, but settled, fruitful, deep-rooted, lifelong happiness. Hence all seems to be at stake. If we miss this chance we shall have lived in vain. At the very thought of such a doom we sink into fathomless depths of self-pity.

Unfortunately these promises are found often to be quite untrue. Every experienced adult knows this to be so as regards all erotic passions (except the one he himself is feeling at the moment). We discount the world-without-end pretensions of our friends’ amours easily enough. We know that such things sometimes last—and sometimes don’t. And when they do last, this is not because they promised at the outset to do so. When two people achieve lasting happiness, this is not solely because they are great lovers but because they are also—I must put it crudely—good people; controlled, loyal, fair-minded, mutually adaptable people.

If we establish a “right to (sexual) happiness” which supersedes all the ordinary rules of behavior, we do so not because of what our passion shows itself to be in experience but because of what it professes to be while we are in the grip of it.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
“Everyone who believes in God must therefore admit (quite apart from the question of prayer) that God has not chosen to write the whole of history with His own hand.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“Let us suppose that such a person began by observing those Christian activities which are, in a sense, directed towards this present world. He would find that this religion had, as a mere matter of historical fact, been the agent which preserved such secular civilization as survived the fall of the Roman Empire; that to it Europe owes the salvation, in those perilous ages, of civilized agriculture, architecture, laws, and literacy itself. He would find that this same religion has always been healing the sick and caring for the poor; that it has, more than any other, blessed marriage; and that arts and philosophy tend to flourish in its neighborhood. In a word, it is always either doing, or at least repenting with shame for not having done, all the things which secular humanitarianism enjoins. If our enquirer stopped at this point he would have no difficulty in classifying Christianity—giving it its place on a map of the ‘great religions.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
“A sound theory of value demands something different. It demands that good should be original and evil a mere perversion; that good should be the tree and evil the ivy; that good should be able to see all round evil (as when sane men understand lunacy) while evil cannot retaliate in kind; that good should be able to exist on its own while evil requires the good on which it is parasitic in order to continue its parasitic existence.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock

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