Oswald Chambers, the everyday C. S. Lewis

I wish I could have lived when and where C. S. Lewis spoke on the radio! (i.e. England during World War I.) Unfortunately (or fortunately), I was yet far from being born, so I will just have to read his words on the page. Still, he writes of things more universal in a way that explains huge concepts to an average person. Like a theological dissertation for the layman. You get a whole lot out of reading him, but once you are convinced and understand, his job is done.

Lewis is a ‘lifetime’ intellectual writer that convinces you once for a lifetime when he gets you to start thinking a certain way.

Oswald Chambers, on the other hand, writes short passages about the daily heart troubles that a person comes across. Trust. Faith in the unseen. Repentance. Accepting forgiveness. Obedience. Issues like this come up daily, multiple times a day. You always forget, and you always need to be told to remember.

Chambers is an ‘everyday’ counsellor writer that convinces you any time any day whenever you need to stop thinking a certain way and restart the right way.

I’m  not saying they play these roles exclusively, just that they tend towards them. They both write with an amazing tone of kindly and fatherly surety. Since more people know about C. S. Lewis than Oswald Chambers, I shall post some selections below for your perusing.

May 30th

“Lord, I will follow Thee; but…” – Luke 9:61

Supposing God tells you to do something which is an enormous test to your common sense, what are you going to do? Hang back? If you get into the habit of doing a thing in the physical domain, you will do it every time until you break the habit determinedly; and the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will get up to what Jesus  Christ wants, and every time you will turn back when it comes to the point, until you abandon resolutely. “Yes, but — supposing I do obey God in this matter, what about…?” “Yes, I will obey God if He will let me use my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.” Jesus Christ demands of the man who trusts Him the same reckless sporting spirit that the natural man exhibits. If a man is going to do anything worth while, there are times when he has to risk everything on his leap, and in the spiritual domain Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what He says, and immediately you do, you find that what He says fits on as solidly as common sense. At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad; but bring them to the bar of faith, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God. Trust entirely in God, and when He brings you to the venture, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis, only one out of a crowd is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God.

June 4th

“For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – Hebrews 13:5

What line does my thought take? Does it turn to what God says or to what I fear? Am I learning to say not what God says, but to say something after I have heard what He says? “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

“I will in no wise fail thee” — not for all my sin and selfishness and stubbornness and waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never fail me? If I have listened to this say-so of God’s then let me listen again.

“Neither will I in any wise forsake thee.” Sometimes it is not difficulty that makes me think God will forsake me, but drudgery. There is no Hill Difficulty to climb, no vision given, nothing wonderful or beautiful, just the commonplace day in and day out — can I hear God’s say-so in these things?

We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing, that He is preparing and fitting us for some extraordinary thing by and bye, but as we go on in grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, in the present minute. If we have God’s say-so behind us, the most amazing strength comes, and we learn to sing in the ordinary days and ways.

Taken from My Utmost for His Highest.


Tomorrow is a brighter day?

The following quote from C.S. Lewis is one of the sections of his book, Mere Christianity, that most changed my worldview back when I was 16/17 years old.

If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place for correction and it’s not so bad. Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable. So that what seems the ugly doctrine is one that comforts and strengthens you in the end. The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists: the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic.

This whole idea brings up a lot of other questions though, and some objections… which I don’t even have time to list out. So I will just leave this quote here, and say I like it.

Imaginary: Introducing C. S. Lewis

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to today’s second section in this series of lectures: Beyond Medieval and Fantasy Literature, hosted by the University of Cambridge. This morning we heard from J. R. R. Tolkien on how he uses the genre beyond its conventions, and in a few moments we have the privilege of inviting C. S. Lewis, our Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature, to speak to us about the use of allegory in his own novels, the Chronicles of Narnia.

Just before I came up here to introduce professor Lewis, I was told to “invite Jack to the stage,” which left me confused as to who ‘Jack’ was. But apparently Jack is what professor Lewis would prefer over his name Clive. So say hello to Jack afterwards, and I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.

For those of you, either from Oxford or here at Cambridge, who were or are students of professor Lewis – and I am one of them – I know you are anticipating the insight he will give us today, as he does so often when we approach him in his office. Some of my classmates and I have wondered where it is that his sense of rationality and critical thinking come from? Professor Lewis tells us of his own tutor, someone who he claims has had a great influence on him. One W.T. Kirkpartrick. He refers to this man as “The Great Knock.” None of us are entirely sure what The Great Knock was like as a person, but we do have this story. The first time he met his tutor, which was as he got off the train in the countryside in Surrey, England, he made a comment on how he didn’t expect the ‘wildness’ of his surroundings. And at this point, the Great Knock is supposed to have pounced on this and said: “STOP. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY WILDNESS AND WHAT GROUNDS DO YOU HAVE FOR NOT EXPECTING IT?” I think this is why he makes a point of impressing on us today the need to always choose words carefully, and lay out arguments clearly.

At the same time, in his own writing, Lewis freely uses strange but poignant metaphors. There’s a famous part in the book Mere Christianity which submits to the reader that with the kind of things Jesus says he must either be Son of God as he claims, or a lunatic (“on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg”) or a liar. But not merely a great moral teacher. And this is not an argument unique to Lewis, but in all the seriousness of the matter, he does manage somehow to refer to a “poached egg”.

Perhaps it is this voice, this tell-it-like-it-is voice, that causes some to either love his writing or hate it. Two of my friends, actually have quite different opinions about professor Lewis, and it is not what you would expect. My conservative and very religious friend – you know who this is, professor Lewis – has a certain dislike for your arguments, but my other friend, who is very anti-Establishment, has a great admiration for you.

So, what professor Lewis will speak about today is how allegory is used in Medieval texts, in the traditional understanding of allegories, that they are a kind of representation that conveying a meaning other than the literal. But he will also draw on his own works to show how the use of representation can be more broad than allegory. In his Narnia series, he does not want to just represent the Christian story in symbols, but to strip away the “stained glass and Sunday School associations,” to get at the heart of the matter. He uses more of a “supposition”: suppose we laid down our present day associations with ‘religion’ – what would it all have been like?

So without further ado, please welcome C.S. Lewis – Jack!

Walking in the light [Isaiah 2]

Our friend Isaiah says, “let us walk in the light of the Lord!” [Isaiah 2:5]

What is walking in the light? In the passage later on, verses 10-18, he mentions pride and the proud a good number of times. Before this passage he talks about the “people of Israel” [2:6] being preoccupied with the things of the world (foreign nations).

∴ (Therefore)
I would say that pride in the things of the world, including both our own achievements and the achievements of humankind ≠ (is not equal to) walking in the light of the Lord.

C. S. Lewis probably says something about pride being the worst of sins because it prevents you from seeking forgiveness. But I am in the middle of exams, and so…