Thursday, September 30, 2010

Francis Collins, C. S. Lewis, and the Resolution of Crisis

As I noted in my last post, C. S. Lewis's writings reflect his own crises. For that reason they have spoken to me. But since then, I've paused and wondered: Have CSL's insights helped others?

Here's one significant example I've found: Lewis’s writings resolved the spiritual and intellectual crisis for the famous geneticist and head of the NIH, Francis Collins, perhaps the most prominent scientist in the United States. Collins, in his important bestselling work, The Language of God, that seeks to reconcile Christian faith with contemporary evolutionary genetics, recounts his experience of reading Lewis as a seeker in medical school. Asked by a patient, whose faith supported her doing terrible heart pain, “What about you? What do you believe?” He could only mutter, “Well, I don’t think I believe in anything.” He realized that he had never looked at the evidence for or against God and found this a “thoroughly terrifying experience." Upon request, a Methodist pastor handed him a key apologetics text by Lewis.
The book was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. In the next few days, as I turned its pages, struggling to absorb the breadth and depth of the intellectual arguments laid down by this legendary Oxford scholar, I realized that all of my constructs against the plausibility of faith were those of a schoolboy. Clearly I would need to start with a clean slate to consider this most important of all human questions. Lewis seemed to know all of my objections, sometimes even before I had quite formulated them. He invariably addressed them within a page or two.
Collins represents exactly the kind of person Lewis so often becomes associated with—honestly looking for God in moments of deep intellectual and spiritual crisis. Lewis did speak, and continues to communicate powerfully, to these seekers. He can do the same today. 

At least, that's how I see it. Do you think that's true? Have Lewis's writings given you new insights right when you needed them, at points of personal crisis?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

C.S. Lewis and Crisis

C.S. Lewis writing something cool

Somehow this paragraph from C.S. Lewis, with its winsome style and penetrating insight, summarizes the power of his work. This twentieth-century Christian mentor and Oxford intellectual (1898-1963)—who lived through the two World Wars, the intervening worldwide Great Depression, and later the death of his wife to cancer—describes beautifully how he resolved the crises that beset human life in general and his life in particular, where he found incredible points of “joy, pleasure, and merriment” in the midst of pain, and why the ultimate resolution lies ahead of this life.
The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world; but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasure inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.

What do you think? Does this insight from C.S. Lewis help you understand better why there's both happiness and pain in life? Why there's hope for something better beyond this life?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Things I Wish I'd Heard in College

I thought I'd post the key points from my sermon last Sundy to our college outreach worship service, the 545. They're points of wisdom (which biblically means "skillful living") that I wish I knew when I started at Cal. I've put a verse in after each one, which is really just an indicator to check out the broader passage.

Things I Wish I’d Heard in College

1.     Don’t go with the crowd, but do what you need to do and truly enjoy.
“Folly sits at the door of her house
… calling out to those who pass by” (Proverbs 9:14-15).
"Do not fret because of evil men
       or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,

       like green plants they will soon die away" (Psalm 37:4).

2.     Make decisions you want to live out for 20 years.
“Like a tree planted by streams of water… whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:3)
"The truly righteous man attains life,

       but he who pursues evil goes to his death." (Proverbs 11:19)

3.     Take time for friendships.
“A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24)

4.     Learning is really cool—don’t take it for granted.
“We take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).

5.     Work on who you want to be, then on what you want to do
“By the grace of God, I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Find who You are in Christ

What do you think? Anything you'd add?