A sin apologists need to beware

I have just finished reading, for the first time, The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. In the forward, Lewis says that the book is intended to have a moral, but cautions it should not be read for its speculation about the nature of the after-life. He says,

I beg readers remember that this is a fantasy. It has of course -- or I intended it to have -- a moral. But the transmortal conditions are solely an imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or a speculation at what may actually await us. The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world.

I quote all of this because I think that his caution should be accepted before reading this book. The point of the book is clearly not about the conditions of what heaven and hell will be like in fact, but some of the mind sets that we may have in heaven and the mind sets that will send us to hell. His speculations about heaven being a pastoral plane which is deathly hard for the spectres of humans who live in hell is simply intended as setting a scene for the story and should be understood as such.

This book is filled with great thoughts about the nature of people and their own self-desires that get in the way of getting into heaven. For example, one poor woman refuses to leave hell and enter heaven because of her concern over her looks. She is so self-absorbed in how she looks that she will not venture out among the spirits of the saved for fear of being ridiculed by them. Another man used pity to emotionally blackmail his friends and family as a way of life, and when he gets an opportunity to get into heaven, he cannot let it go. He tries to blackmail the saved into feeling sorry for him as a condition to his entering into the heavenly realm, but his nature as an emotional blackmailer fails to permit him to see that the offer to enter is free. I could spend hours writing about some of the thoughts expressed in this book, most of which I find compelling but a few of which I find to be somewhat questionable.

When I was reading the book, I saw something that condemned me as a person practicing apologetics. I don't think that I am the person that Lewis describes, but I can see clearly where I -- or any other apologist, for that matter -- could easly become that person if I lose focus on Jesus. Here is what one of the characters (George MacDonald) says about a type of person he meets who won't enter heaven.

There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing about God Himself . . . as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who have been so occupied with spreading Christianity that they gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye have seen it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organizer of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all the snares.

A chilling thought. It hearkens back to the chilling words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 7:22-23:

Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

"Lord, Lord, did I not argue for the truth of the Gospels and the existence of God in Your name?" And the Lord answered . . . .


John R. said…
The same trap is set for ministry in general. We can be so busy keeping the ministry going that we do not drink from the fountainhead.

Layman said…

Nice post. My wife liked it to.

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