Rival Conceptions of God

Mere Christianity Book 2-What Christians Believe

Chapter: 1: Rival Conceptions of God

Lewis sets out to draw contrasts between atheism and Theism. He cleverly begins by pointing out that as a Christian, one is not required to believe that all other religions are completely wrong. As with a mathematical equation, one may end up with the wrong answer but may have some right figures as part of the formula. The atheist, on the other hand, is backed into the corner of claiming that all of humanity is wrong at all points of religious belief. Lewis goes on to suggest that atheism collapses under its own weight. The claim that God cannot be present in a universe that is so unjust assumes the idea of justice itself. How else could one judge the universe unjust? To what standard is the comparison being made? How can we, who are inhabitants of this unjust universe, know what justice is or why it is preferable, or even necessary to the alternative? Complaining about reality forces one to assume that some part of that reality somewhere is free of the deficiency about which one is complaining. If not, then the act of complaining itself is an exercise in futility.

Lewis also distinguished between Pantheism and Monotheism. Monotheism sees God as separate from and concerned for His creation. Something has gone wrong with what He has made and God makes demands on His people to set it right. Pantheists see God as a part of creation and therefore hesitate to call something good or bad because God is in it all. To destroy something is to destroy a part of God. Conversely, Lewis demonstrates that a painting is the work of a painter, not the painter himself. A picture may be destroyed, but that does not demand the imminent destruction of the painter, they are separate.

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