Sunday I started a 3 part series on “The Theology of C.S. Lewis: A Biographical and Theological Exploration” in the Sunday School class I teach. (Remember if you prefer just to read edtech-related stuff from me, a separate RSS feed is available just for you.) The primary website I used to discuss events in Lewis’ life was “Into the Wardrobe.” The site has a great collection of images of Lewis, and the timeline of his life is also excellent.
We discussed two primary themes that come through in “Mere Christianity,” the only other book by Lewis I have read to date besides the 7 books in “The Chronicles of Narnia.” These themes were “Who was/is Jesus?” and “salvation by God’s grace.”
On pages 40-41 of Mere Christianity, Lewis addresses the question of “Who was/is Jesus” by writing the following:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic– on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg– or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon: or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But lets us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to use. He did not intend to.
During this discussion, I showed as a slideshow a collection of 48 images of Jesus I downloaded some time ago and reposted online. (People’s interpretations of what Jesus may have looked like.)
For our second discussion about salvation, I wanted to bring out Lewis’ point in his chapter on faith (and elsewhere) that the only way to achieve or realize salvation for the Christian is through the grace of God. Works cannot do it: we cannot do enough “good things” or make a deal/bargain with God to “earn” it. On page 110 of “Mere Christianity,” Lewis notes:
I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam, or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits. When they find it blown into bits, some people think this means that Christianity is a failure and give up. They seem to imagine that God is very simple-minded! In fact, of course, He knows all about this. One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits. God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam, or putting him in your debt.
I showed a slideshow of different images I found on Flickr that were tagged “salvation” during this discussion. I certainly was selective in the images I chose to use– but this led to an interesting and valuable addition to the lesson, I think.
I learned at our state technology conference last year that the human brain processes visual information around 60,000 times faster than it processes text. My wife commented that these visuals were at times distracting to her, from listening to the verses others were reading and what was being discussed, but I think that is not really a problem. My goal in using visuals in combination with more traditional content sources (lecture and notes written on the board) was to help form images in people’s minds that they would attach ideas to. Hopefully I succeeded in this lesson!
I am looking forward to continuing this study for the next two Sundays. The fact that the original source for “Mere Christianity” was a series of radio programs C.S. Lewis gave in 1944 struck me as very interesting. Lewis was “broadcasting” with the technology of the day to get out his message. I think he would be podcasting if he was alive today! 🙂
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