Tuesday, September 23, 2008

C.S. Lewis and "Damned Nonsense"

In Mere Christianity (Book II, Chapter 1), C.S. Lewis comments on the foolishness of pantheism claiming that obvious evil and suffering "also is God" by saying, "The Christian replies, 'Don't talk damned nonsense.' For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world ... But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again."

In a footnote Lewis addressed a complaint calling his use of the word "damned" as "frivolous swearing." Lewis responded, "But I mean exactly what I say - nonsense that is damned is under God's curse, and will (apart from God's grace) lead those who believe it to eternal death."

Lewis is not merely letting off steam when he calls pantheism "damned nonsense." If the teachings of pantheism in relation to evil and suffering are nonsensical, then those who believe in the teachings, in Lewis's words, are being led "to eternal death."

Christianity posits a high-stakes universe where truth is of eternal significance. There is a time and place in apologetics for treading carefully, but there is also a time and place for condemning faulty beliefs, particularly when they promote nonsense that will lead its adherents to damnation.

This does not mean that Christian apologists should merely call false teachings "damned nonsense" and be done with it. We must offer valid and compelling reasons for the deficiencies in competing beliefs in addition to offering positive, convincing, and thoughtful arguments in favor of Christianity.

For more on my take on pantheism see my article, "Why I Gave Up On Pantheism."

1 comment:

Ben Mordecai said...

I was a little surprised when I heard this at first too, but you're right it is very true.