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Mere Christianity

***If say no right and wrong, indecisive:
“Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 19)

***(R-Light of Christ, World) If no decent behavior, why so anxious to make excuses?
“If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently?”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 20)

“Progress means not just changing, but changing for the better.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 25)

****If on wrong road, most progressive means turning back soonest:
“If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 36)

***If say one morality is better than another, admitting that there is a real right:
“The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. . . .  You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think . . .”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 25)

***Only after realized you have put yourself wrong before God that Christianity begins to talk:
“Christianity simply does not make sense until you have faced the sort of facts I have been describing.  Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness.  It has nothing . . . to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness.  It is after you have realised that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power—it is after this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.  When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor.  When you have realised that our position is nearly desperate you will begin to understand what the Christians are talking about.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 38-39)

****(R-Agency, Big Questions)Bad happens because people choose to go against God’s will:
“. . . how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?
“But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another.  It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, ‘I’m not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night.  You’ve got to learn to keep it tidy on your own.’  Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate.  That is against her will.  She would prefer the children to be tidy.  But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy.  The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school.  You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it.  That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 52)

*****(R-Agency, Big Questions)Free by definition means possibility of going wrong-makes possible the joy worth having:
“Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot.  If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad.  And free will is what has made evil possible.  Why then, did God give them free will?  Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 52-53)

*****(R-Agency, World)When argue against God, arguing against that which makes you able to argue:
“When you are arguing against [God], you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 53)

****Repentance more than eating humble pie-means unlearning and changing-it is killing a part of you:
“Repentance is no fun at all.  It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie.  It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years.  It means killing part of yourself . . .”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 60)

****(R-Eternal Life, Repentance)Enter God’s presence without sincere change from repentance? Can’t happen:
“Remember, this repentance . . . is simply a description of what going back to Him is like.  If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back.  It cannot happen.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 60)

*****(R-Definitions, Diligence, Life-Changing)Think out what you are doing and what will come of it:
“Prudence means . . . taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 74-75)

*****(R-False Doctrine Killers, Humility, Knowledge, Obedience) Being good does not mean being a simpleton-child heart, but grown up head:
“. . . many Christians have the idea that, provided you are ‘good,’ it does not matter being a fool.  But that is a misunderstanding. . . . as [Paul] points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves,’ but also ‘as wise as serpents.’  He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head.  He wants us to be simple, single-minded affectionate, and teachable, as good as children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 75)

*****(R-Beyond the Mark, Christ-Attributes, Words of Wisdom)Bad if cannot give up something without wanting all to give it up:
“Temperance [means] not abstaining, but going the right length and no further. . . . the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying.  One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. . . . the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do not use them, he has taken the wrong turning. . . . that is not the Christian way.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 76)

*****(R-Conversion, Diligence, PoS-Degrees of Glory, Righteousness) Difference between doing a good deed and being a good person:
“There is a difference between doing some particular just or temperate action and being a just or temperate man.  Someone who is not a good tennis player may now and then make a good shot.  What you mean by a good player is the man whose eye and muscles and nerves have been so trained by making innumerable good shots that they can now be relied on.  They have a certain tone or quality which is there even when he is not playing, just as a mathematician’s mind has a certain habit and outlook which is there even when he is not doing mathematics.  In the same way a man who perseveres in doing just actions gets in the end a certain quality of character.  Now it is that quality rather than the particular actions which we mean when we talk of virtue.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 77)

*****(R-Eternal Life, False Doctrine Killers, Conversion, Plan of Salvation)
“This distinction [of doing good acts and having the character of a truly good person] is important for the following reason.  If we thought only of the particular actions we might encourage three wrong ideas.
(1) We might think that, provided you did the right thing, it did not matter how or why you did it . . .
(2) We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort.
(3) We might think that the ‘virtues’ were necessary only for this present life . . . there will be every occasion for being the sort of people that we can become only as the result of doing such acts here.  The point is not that God will refuse you admission to His eternal world if you have not got certain qualities of character: the point is that people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside them, then no possible external conditions could make a ‘Heaven’ for them—that is, could make them happy with the deep, strong, unshakable kind of happiness God intends for us.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 77-78)

*****(R-Judging, Judgment, Perspective)Humans can’t judge-we don’t know raw material nor what they have done with it:
“Human beings judge one another by their external actions.  God judges them by their moral choices. . . . When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing, does some tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God’s eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.
“It is as well to put this the other way round.  Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends.  Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler?  That is why Christians are told not to judge.  We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material.  But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 86-87)

*****(R-Agency, Conversion, Commandments, False Doctrine Killers, Perspective)Commandments not to reward or punish us-but to transform us:
“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do [an]other thing.’  I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.  I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.  And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God . . . Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 87)

****(R-Agency, Diligence)Little decisions of infinite importance-build up to miraculous victories thought impossible:
“Good and evil both increase at compound interest.  That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.  The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 117)

****(R-Apostasy-Personal, Indicators, Light and Truth, Wickedness)A man is getting better as he sees the evil in him more acutely, if getting worse=sees badness less and less:
“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him.  When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less.  A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right.  This is common sense, really . . . You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them . . . Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 88)

“Virtue—even attempted virtue—brings light; indulgence brings fog.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 95)

***Sex nothing to be ashamed of can mean two things:
“Modern people are always saying, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.’  They may mean two things.  They may mean ‘There is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that the human race reproduces itself in a certain way, nor in the fact that it gives pleasure.’  If they mean that, they are right. . . . But, of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of.  If they mean that, I think they are wrong.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 92)

“A man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 93)

****(R-Judgment, Stress)God will judge-what matters is sincerity:
“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome.  What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 93)

*****(R-Atonement-Enabling Power, Diligence, Stress)Try again-often the virtue being developed is that of always trying again:
“We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts.  You must ask for God’s help.  Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given.  Never mind.  After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.  Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 94)

*****(R-Easy Way, God-Situation Before, Stress)The fatal thing is to be content with trying for less than perfection:
“[The process of trying and failing] cures our illusion about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.  We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.  The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 94)

****(R-Charity, Judging)Think of others more in terms of, like you, what they can become-sorry that they make mistakes, hoping that they change, and accepting them when they do:
“For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man?  But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself.  However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself.  There had never been the slightest difficulty about it.  In fact the very reason I hate the things was that I loved the man.  Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.  Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery . . . But it does want us to hate them in the same way which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 105-106)

*****(R-Indicators, Pride)How prideful? How feel when ignored, patronized, or shown off to?
“If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 110)

“Pride is essentially competitive . . . pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. . . . it is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.  Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 110)

“[In talking about how pride is a hostility toward and wanting to be better than everyone] In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself.  Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all.  As long as you are proud you cannot know God.  A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 111)

*****(False Doctrine Killers, Indicators, Pride)Pleasure in praise is not pride-pleasure in self is:
“Pleasure in being praised is not Pride.  The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says ‘Well done,’ are pleased and ought to be.  For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please.  The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, ‘I have pleased him; all is well,’ to thinking, ‘What a fine person I must be to have done it.’  The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 112)
*****If pride in someone means admiration=far from sin:
“We say in English that a man is ‘proud’ of his son, or his father, or his school, or regiment, and it may be asked whether ‘pride’ in this sense is a sin.  I think it depends on what, exactly, we mean by ‘proud of.’  Very often, in such sentences, the phrase ‘is proud of’ means ‘has a warm admiration for.’  Such an admiration is, of course, very far from being a sin.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 113)

*****(Christ-Attributes, Conversion, Humility, Indicators)Not think of self:
“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: . . . probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.  If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily.  He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 114, emphasis in original)

“Part of Charity . . . is called Forgiveness.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 115)

*****(R-Agency, Charity, Definitions)Charity also a state of the will-trying to care deeply for all:
“Charity means ‘Love, in the Christian sense.’  But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion.  It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 115))

*****(R-Charity-Obtain, Priestcraft, Service)Secret to charity simple-act as if you have it and it will increase:
“Some people are ‘cold’ by temperament; that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is a sin; and it does not cut them out from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning charity.  The rule for all of us is perfectly simple.  Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did.  As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.  When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.  If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.  If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.  There is, indeed, one exception.  If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude,’ you will probably be disappointed.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 116)

*****(R-Charity, Conversion, World)Christians not treat kindly because he likes people, but tries to treat everyone kindly:
“The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or ‘likings’ and the Christian has only ‘charity.’  The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on—including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 117)

****(R-Charity-Obtain, Stress)What if not feel love of God?  Act as if you did:
“. . . people are often worried.  They are told they ought to love God.  They cannot find any such feeling in themselves.  What are they to do?  The answer is the same as before.  Act as if you did.  Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings.  Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?’  When you have found the answer, go and do it.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 117)

*****(R-False Doctrine Killers, Temptation, Wickedness):Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it truly is:
“No man knows hos bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.  A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means.  This is an obvious lie.  Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.  After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in.  You find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.  A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.  That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness.  They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.  We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 126)

*****(R-Conversion, Indicators)When begin to be born again, more concerned about what we are than particular acts:
“[When we begin to feel the beginnings of what the New Testament refers to as being born again,] We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are.  This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case.  When I come to evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed.  And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself.  Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated.  On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is?”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 165-166)

****Can’t live happily thinking that we can be good AND meet the demands of the natural man:
“As long as we are thinking that way [that once all of the demands of Christianity have been met, our natural self will have some chance to do what it likes], one or other of two results is likely to follow.  Either we give up trying to be good, or else we become very unhappy indeed.  For, make no mistake: if you are really going to try to meet all the demands made on the natural self, it will not have enough left over to live on.  The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you.  And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier.  In the end, you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, ‘live for others’ but always in a discontented, grumbling way—always wondering why the others do not notice it more and always making a martyr of yourself.  And once you have become that you will be a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would have been if you had remained frankly selfish.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 169)

****(R-Diligence, Knowledge, Works)Best to do work thoroughly the first time
“Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works hardest in the end.  They mean this.  If you give two boys, say, a proposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take trouble will try to understand it.  The lazy boy will learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort.  But six months later, when they are preparing for an exam, that lazy boy is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other boy understands, and positively enjoys, in a few minutes.  Laziness means more work in the long run.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 170)

***(R-Perfection, Selfishness)Can’t let our mind and heart go their own way and follow Christ:
“. . . to hand over your whole self . . . to Christ . . . is far easier than we are all trying to do instead.  For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves,’ to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time to be ‘good.’  We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centered on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly.  And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do.  As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 170)

*****(R-Perfection, Stress)Be ye perfect does not mean ‘unless you are perfect I will not help you’:
“Some people seem to think that [Christ’s words, ‘Be ye perfect’] means ‘Unless you are perfect, I will not help you’; and as we cannot be perfect, then if he meant that, our position is hopeless.  But I do not think He did mean that.  I think He meant ‘The only help I will give is help to become perfect.  You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less.’”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 173)

****(R-Perfection, PoS-Earth Life, Stress)
“This Helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 174)

***Don’t be content with simply being nice-need to expand on innate gifts:
“If you are a nice person—if virtue comes easily to you—beware!  Much is expected from those to whom much is given.  If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous.  The Devil was an archangel once . . .”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 183)