It’s Wednesday! It’s the day that my amigo and co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen and I have our regularly scheduled book discussion. This week, we’re beginning a new series of discussions on the classic work by CS Lewis, Mere Christianity. We love to have you participate whether you’ve done the reading or not, so feel free to stay and weigh in with your thoughts and opinions! If you’ve written a post about Mere Christianity, we invite you to link your post at the widget at the bottom.
The first chapter of Mere Christianity is titled: “The Law of Human Nature.” I have to admit, for a few paragraphs, I was floundering, wondering where in the world Lewis was going. And then, it struck me that he was laying a foundation.
“Each man is at every moment subject to several sets of law but there is only one of these which he is free to disobey. As a body, he is subjected to gravitation and cannot disobey it… As an organism, he is subjected to various biological laws which he cannot disobey… but the law which is peculiar to his human nature… is the one he can disobey if he chooses. This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that every one knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it.” (Lewis, 18.)
Lewis’ point ends up being that we are all born with an internal sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, decency and indecency. We’re born with a standard. We know when we’re being cheated or mistreated or when we’re cheating or mistreating others because of the standard within us. And when he comes to the end of the chapter, he makes the statement that grabbed me above all others in this chapter:
“These…are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.” (Lewis, 21.)
First and foremost, I agree with Lewis’ belief about the law of human nature. I agree that there is a standard and that deep inside of us, we know that. But the more important thing to me was that Lewis started his book by establishing a foundation. Instead of beginning, as many do, by throwing a number of theories at us and then sorting them out throughout the book, he starts with a one clear belief from which he will continue to build.
I think this is most important to me at this point in my life because as someone who travels in multiple circles (some Christian, some secular) there are so many different and often opposing doctrines and agendas being thrown at me at one time. Honestly, I often don’t know what to believe or where to start looking for answers and that causes confusion. A simple example of how this plays out in my life is how I rarely retweet others’ links on Twitter anymore unless I know the writer quite well. Why? Because I don’t always know and understand where the writers are coming from and whether or not I agree with them. And I strongly believe that I should be careful about passing on erroneous facts or theories because I honestly believe that we are responsible for what we endorse. All of this makes it especially important to me that Lewis laid a clear foundation at the beginning. He basically said, “This is what I believe. This is what everything else I say is built on. These are the lenses the rest of the book will be seen through.” And as icing on the cake, I agree with his foundation.
Let me ask a couple of questions to close the first chapter. First of all, do you agree with Lewis’ statements about us being born with a standard? Second, do you often find yourself being presented with too many competing ideas, theories, doctrines, and agendas? And if you do, how do you sort through those competing views?
Just some food for thought. Next week, Chapter 2, and the widget will be at Jason’s!