The title of this chapter is a reference to the words of Christ in Luke 14:28: "Or which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?"
The Catholic Encyclopedia). The Anglican Church officially rejects the doctrine, as do other Protestant denominations, but Lewis believed in it, as he evidenced in his Letters to Malcolm, quoted here.
Matthew 3:17: "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.") and at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:5: "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.").
"[George] Macdonald [sic] (1824-1905) [was a] Scottish novelist, clergyman and author of children's stories [who] was admired by many of his peers for his tender spirituality through his graceful poems and fantastical verse. They rank high among the classics of juvenile literature" (The Literature Network).
Lewis "regarded [George] MacDonald as his 'master': 'Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later,' said Lewis, 'I knew that I had crossed a great frontier'" (wikipedia). In his diary entry for January 11, 1923 (years before his conversion to Christianity), Lewis wrote, "I read Macdonald's [sic] Phantastes over my tea, which I have read many times and which I really believe fills for me the place of a devotional book. It tuned me up to a higher pitch and delighted me" (All My Road before Me, 177).
For more information on MacDonald, visit the George MacDonald Society.
I am not able to find Lewis's source for MacDonald's quoted statement "God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy."
Perhaps Lewis had in mind Paul's words in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 here. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
Jeremiah 18:1-6 (KJV): "The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel."
Romans 9:20-21 (KJV): "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"
Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), it has a long history of controversy, including an article by Waldo Shumway of the University of Illinois Department of Biology published in The Quarterly Review of Biology in 1932, years before Lewis wrote Mere Christianity. Here is a short article from Science magazine, 1997, discussing the problems with Haeckel's theory.
Psalm 82:6 (KJV): "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High."
Jesus Christ, defending His deity, quotes this psalm in John 10:34-36: "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?"
Lewis may be thinking of the words of Christ from Matthew 5:48 (KJV): "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ said (Matthew 7:15-29 [KJV])
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
The British government produced dozens of propaganda posters during World War II in order to boost morale, engender patriotism, and protect national interests. One such series reminded British subjects that "careless talk costs lives"--similar to American posters that reminded citizens that "loose lips sink ships."
This is not the first time in Mere Christianity that Lewis has touched on his controversial belief in inclusivism. See the second Bookmark for page 64 for a discussion of this topic.
John 14:6 (as well as other passages) would, at the very least, cause one to doubt Lewis's proposal here ("I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"). See also John 10:14 (ESV), quoting Christ: "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me."
Inclusivism necessitates a kind of salvation by works--the possibility of which Lewis has denied on page 142 (see Bookmark): "If there was any idea of a sort of bargain--any idea that we could perform our side of the contract and thus put God in our debt so that it was up to Him, in mere justice, to perform His side--that has to be wiped out."
In short, nowhere does the Bible validate Lewis's view that people who believe in religions other than Christianity can "belong to Christ without knowing it."
Christ said "Blessed are the poor" in his Sermon on the Mount, which Lewis is fond of quoting. However, the complete sentence is, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Once again Lewis is being sloppy with exegesis; in this passage Christ clearly was not speaking of economic poverty.
On the other hand, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all relate Christ's reference to the difficulty of a rich person's entering the kingdom of God. His comments came after His encounter with the rich young ruler, and they clearly do relate to economic riches.
Matthew 19:23-24 (KJV): "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
Mark 10:23-27 (KJV): "And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible."
Luke 18:18-30 (KJV):
"And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."
Matthew 16:24 (KJV): "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Mark 8:34 (KJV): "And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Luke 9:23 (KJV): "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
Both the Old and New Testaments refer to Christ's followers as "lost sheep" prior to their conversion.
Psalm 119:176:" I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments."
Jeremiah 50:6: "My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace."
Matthew 10:6: "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Matthew 15:24: "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Lewis may also be thinking of Christ's parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep, quoted here from Luke 15:3-7 (ESV):
So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
From the Sermon on the Mount--Matthew 5:3: "“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
The Pharisees were members of a strict sect of Judaism, a group whom Christ repeatedly criticized during His ministry. (See Matthew 3; Matthew 23; Mark 8; Luke 11.) They criticized Christ for eating with sinners, for plucking grain on the Sabbath, for failing to wash His hands before eating, for eating with tax collectors and other sinners, for claiming He could forgive sins, and for healing a man on the Sabbath. Eventually they conspired with the Jewish chief priests as well as the Roman civil authorities to have Christ crucified.
The term "pharisee" nowadays refers to anyone who is overly pious and hypercritical of others, holding those around him to a higher standard than himself.
A reference to Christ's parable given in Luke 12:36-48:
And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
An archangel is a chief angel. Only three are named in Scripture: Michael (mentioned in Daniel, Jude, and Revelation), Gabriel (mentioned in Daniel and Luke), and Lucifer (mentioned in Isaiah).
Matthew 19:27-30 (KJV): "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."
"Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
"So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
"But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."
Matthew 12:36-37 (KJV): "But I [Christ] say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Romans 14:10 (KJV): ". . . we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ."
Philippians 2:9-11 (KJV): "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Portions of this chapter can be heard in Lewis's own voice:
From The Inklings of Oxford: C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Their Friends (Harry Lee Poe, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), page 39: In the 1930s "Owen Barfield said that he himself believed in evolution but never changed at all. On the other hand, he said that Jack Lewis did not believe in evolution and was constantly changing."
How or whether evolution fits into a Christian worldview continues to be a raging debate (at this writing Googling "evolution creationism debate" yields nearly 3 million hits), especially in the United States, with groups such as Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research seeking to reconcile scientific findings with the six days of Creation recorded in Genesis. Apparently Lewis's position on the issue changed over the years (see quote above). However, when writing Mere Christianity Lewis clearly came down on the side of those who believe evolution can be reconciled with the Bible's account of Creation, recorded in Genesis 1-3. In "The New Men" Lewis gives his views on what the next step in evolution might be.
The term "Superman" predates the creation of the DC Comics character still popular in graphic novels and movies. According to Britannica, "'Superman' is a term significantly used by Friedrich Nietzsche, particularly in Also sprach Zarathustra (1883–85), although it had been employed by J.W. von Goethe and others. This superior man would not be a product of long evolution; rather, he would emerge when any man with superior potential completely masters himself and strikes off conventional Christian 'herd morality' to create his own values, which are completely rooted in life on this earth."
Lewis may be thinking of 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV) here: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
1 Corinthians 2:16 (KJV): "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."
Philippians 2:5-8 (KJV): "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."