Is God a Megalomaniac?

Sam Storms: I’m currently reading through John Piper’s most recent book (and so should you!), Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Crossway, 2017). I’ll have a more complete review of it when I’m done, but I can assure you that it will most definitely be on my list of Top Ten Best Books of 2017. Early on in the book Piper picks up the objection that C. S. Lewis voiced concerning the way in which God constantly demanded praise of himself (especially as we see this in the Psalms). Lewis struggled to understand how God could be loving towards us at the same time he seemed so obsessed with his own praise. In other words, how does God escape the charge of being a megalomaniac? Shouldn’t God “humble” himself by seeking our good above and prior to his own glory? Piper’s answer follows: “If God demeaned his supreme worth in the name of

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Why Going to Church Does Not Make You a Christian

I am not a Christian because I attend church on Sunday. Neither are you. And neither is John Piper. This was a discovery Piper made in the opening pages of a book by C. S. Lewis. In God’s providence, a thin little blue book by the title of “The Weight of Glory” found its way into Piper’s life at age 23 (recently photographed, above). Here’s how he recounted the story in a 2015 sermon. John Piper: The second wave that broke over me in my 23rd year was the discovery that my desires were not too strong, but too weak. And the remedy for my early perplexity did not lie in getting rid of my desires, but on glutting them on God. That was revolutionary to me. Your problem, longing, aching, yearning, wanting, John Piper, is that you don’t yet want like you ought to want. I will come to you and I will put a fire under the fire

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The bible’s kind of marriage is most like a crucifixion

C.S. Lewis on our Pattern in marriage: We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church–read on–and gave his life for her (Eph 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is–in her own mere nature–least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; he does not find, but makes her lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his

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Church membership

  Ray Ortlund: “We have in our day started by getting the whole picture upside down.  Starting with the doctrine that every individual is ‘of infinite value,’ we then picture God as a kind of employment committee whose business it is to find suitable careers for souls, square holes for square pegs.  In fact, however, the value of the individual does not lie in him.  He is capable of receiving value.  He receives it by union with Christ.  There is no question of finding for the individual a place in the living temple which will do justice to his inherent value and give scope to his natural idiosyncrasy.  The place was there first.  The individual was created for it.  He will not be himself until he is there.” C. S. Lewis, “Membership,” in The Weight of Glory (Grand Rapids, 1974), pages 41-42. No wonder, then, that when we join a healthy church, we feel refreshed, reinvigorated, more alive.  We may

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He who has God only

  Sam Storms: In his remarkable essay, The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis identifies five promises that Scripture supplies regarding our eternal future: “(1) that we shall be with Christ; (2) that we shall be like Him; (3) with an enormous wealth of imagery, that we shall have ‘glory’; (4) that we shall, in some sense, be fed or feasted or entertained; and (5) that we shall have some sort of official position in the universe – ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God’s temple. The first question I ask about these promises is ‘Why any one of them except the first?’ Can anything be added to the conception of being with Christ? For it must be true, as an old writer says, that he who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only” (31). Do we really believe that? The world today doesn’t. The loudest voice in our society (and tragically,

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So Heavenly Minded You’re No Earthly Good?

    C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity: A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth

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Praise: The Consummation of Joy

Sam Storms: My understanding of the nature of worship was radically transformed by a fundamental truth I found in C.S. Lewis, who died 50 years ago this month. What Lewis helped me grasp is best explained by looking briefly at his own struggle with worship as he explained it in the essay titled, “A Word About Praising,” in his short book,Reflections on the Psalms, pages 90–98 in my worn, 1958 edition. In a word, Lewis enabled me to recognize that not only was it permissible to enjoy God in worship, it was absolutely essential if I was truly to honor him. He said it in this one profound statement: “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” But there is a lot that leads up to this statement. God’s Deep God-Centeredness As a young man, Lewis was more than a little agitated by the persistent

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Five Points of Lewisism

Five points from C. S. Lewis on writing essays. Much here for the preacher to think about too. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else. Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.” In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.” Don’t use words too big for the

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Christ-ian Marriage

We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church–read on–and gave his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is–in her own mere nature–least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; he does not find, but makes her lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness:

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“Chronological Snobbery”

  Todd Pruitt: I believe it was C.S. Lewis who wrote about “chronological snobbery”: the tendency to think that your time, your methods, your generation, etc are somehow worthy of greater esteem than that of the past. This has been tragically true within evangelicalism. The irony, of course, is that we are a people whose entire existence depends upon events 2,000 years ago and beyond. What is more, we have two millennia of church history from which to draw. Unfortunately, in our preaching, praise, and education we seem to prefer the cheap porridge of contemporary trends over the rich and thoughtful deposits of our forebears. The finest historians on the planet ought to be Christians. Our churches ought to be filled with historical referents. Not that our buildings would be museums and our gatherings exercises in nostalgia. A thousand times no! However it seems to me, to quote one of my co-laborers, “We are sowing the seeds of our own demise.” Read the

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C.S. Lewis: “Three Kinds of Men”

C.S. Lewis’s short essay, “Three Kinds of Men,” from his collection of essays, Present Concerns (pp. 9-10): There are three kinds of people in the world. The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them. In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them—the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society—and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade,” “in school” and “out of school.” But the third

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No God, no happiness

“The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.) What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something

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Savouring the Glory

The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God. We were made for this. “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth. . . whom I created for my glory,” says the Lord (Isaiah 43:6-7). … We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for images, everything is disordered. The sun of God’s glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attracting place at the center. ~ John Piper, Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him,

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The Narnia Code

The BBC has produced an excellent documentary about Michael Ward’s discovery of a ‘secret code’ hidden beneath the narrative of the Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis. Ward’s book is called, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis. The documentary is a fascinating story about Lewis’ love and expertise of  medieval cosmology and Ward’s tying this to the ultimate reason behind the Chronicles. The result is a God-glorifying testimony to the order and grandeur of creation. Lewis’ aim! There are some great interviews at the end with Christian scientists, and a wonderful conclusion centred on the resurrection of Jesus as the beginning of the new creation. You can watch the BBC program here on BBCi, available for one week.