Which god? God or god?
“Thou shalt have no other god before me.” (Exodus 20:3 KJV)
This line is part of the description of C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. The entire text is:
What if anyone in Hell could take a bus trip to Heaven and stay there forever if they wanted to?
In The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis again employs his formidable talent for fable and allegory. The writer finds himself in Hell boarding a bus bound for Heaven. The amazing opportunity is that anyone who wants to stay in Heaven, can. This is the starting point for an extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment. Lewis's revolutionary idea is the discovery that the gates of Hell are locked from the inside. In Lewis's own words, "If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.
This is a great book.
I really hope to have time to put more on it up on the site.
As I was searching the web for the entire text quoted above -
I came across a whole bunch of comments about the book.
Some were obviously positive -
talking about the amazing insight into the choice that we have between Heaven and Hell -
and what that would be like.
Others obviously were very negative and / or disagree with this conclusion.
One of them is -
Lewis's belief that "the doors of hell are locked from the inside" has really been troubling me. I really don't understand how this could be true. I know that Lewis is trying to make the point that a person's unwillingness to submit themselves to God is what put them in hell, and I agree. But can we really assume that is what is keeping them there? I think if these people saw Jesus face to face and he said "I never knew you" they would be struck by Christ's glory and know for certain that they had missed it. I think they will realize that the sovereign God of the universe truly exists and that surrendering their self-
I’m guessing this statement was made by a Christian -
someone who already has accepted Jesus -
someone who already realizes the significance of the choices already made -
and that Lewis is saying that the gates are locked -
not by God -
but by the residents of Hell themselves.
I’ve known people with three different reactions to God’s Word -
Some people are too “into themselves” to have any interest in God.
Others think they are strong enough to take care of themselves and don’t need anything else.
Others seem to be perfectly happy thinking that life is just a random / short experience and then there’s nothing after that.
Some think they would have to live a “boring” life if they did what God wanted.
Still others are having what they think is too much fun to even want to think about God.
The one thing all of these people have in common is that they don’t want to have anything to do with God.
The other thing they have in common -
God isn’t going to force them to have anything to do with Him.
Salvation is a gift -
What some of us may have a hard time realizing is that people with attitudes like this can actually reach a point where they’re quite “happy and content” with life as they know it. Notice -
In Chapter 3 of The Great Divorce -
‘This is simply ridiculous,’ said a voice in my ear. One of the quieter and more respectable ghosts had sidled up to me. ‘There must be some mismanagement,’ he continued. ‘What’s the sense of allowing all that riff-
‘I don’t know very well myself,’ said I. ‘What does one do?’
This visitor from Hell is looking right at Heaven -
sitting at the entrance -
with a view of the “entrance” to Heaven -
and a view of “the bus” that would take him back to Hell.
He’s concerned that he won’t know what to do in Heaven.
Is this really any different from what happens here on earth?
We Christians are called to be light unto the world -
Salt and Light
Mt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Mt 5:15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Mt 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
and become Christians because of that?
For various reasons -
Not surprisingly -
The verses below come from when Jesus was teaching Nicodemus, who was one of the Jewish Pharisees -
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
And here we see yet another reason people stay away from God -
They think that whatever they’ve done is so bad they can’t possibly be forgiven.
Considering who we already know Jesus has forgiven -
that really shouldn’t be a problem.
For example -
Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
…is what Jesus said as He was dying on the cross.
He even forgave the very people who were either killing Him or enjoying the sight.
But some will still feel that what they’ve done is too bad to be forgiven -
and will reject the offer of salvation.
Which now brings us to the article -
The cheerleaders in Kountze prompted a complaint to the school district in September when they rolled out banners with scriptural references, such as "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me," and "But thanks be to God which gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
This activity prompted the following response from a group who filed the legal complaint against the cheerleaders -
The foundation argued that when the religious sentiments are displayed by cheerleaders in school uniforms before large groups of students at official school functions, the banners violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
The gates of Hell are locked from the inside.
The name of the group filing the complaint -
The freedom from religion foundation.
When going to see what their purpose is -
The purposes of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., as stated in its bylaws, are to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.
Since www.dictionary.com doesn’t even have a definition of the word “nontheism” -
Nontheism is a term that covers a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of—or the rejection of— theism or any belief in a personal god or gods. It is in use in the fields of Christian apologetics and general liberal theology. "Nontheism" should not be confused with " irreligion".
That’s certainly a mouthful.
But what does it mean?
Invented originally as a synonym for secularism (see below), it has become an umbrella term for summarizing various distinct and even mutually exclusive positions united by a naturalist approach, sometimes in the plural, nontheisms.
On entering their website -
In their FAQ section -
The Foundation recognizes that the United States was first among nations to adopt a secular Constitution. The founders who wrote the U.S. Constitution wanted citizens to be free to support the church of their choice, or no religion at all. Our Constitution was very purposefully written as a godless document, whose only references to religion are exclusionary.
This statement is true -
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-
And ends with -
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
This indicates to me not a godless person -
The thing is -
different people can look at the same thing
but still draw very different conclusions.
The folks at The Freedom From Religion Foundation certainly have their beliefs -
and likely hold them very strongly.
They also want to force them on everyone else -
and are willing to file suit to do so.
Is the person who believes so strongly that there is no God likely to react too much differently than the fictional person in The Great Divorce?
One of the things that C. S. Lewis points out is that being in Hell has the capability of driving people deeper and deeper into it -
Would they get to the bus stop in time, if they ever set out?’
‘Well—theoretically. But it’d be a distance of light-
‘Wouldn’t want to?’
‘That’s right. The nearest of those old ones is Napoleon. We know that because two chaps made the journey to see him. They’d started long before I came, of course, but I was there when they came back. About fifteen thousand years of our time it took them. We’ve picked out the house by now. Just a little pin prick of light and nothing else near it for millions of miles.’
‘But they got there?’
‘That’s right. He’d built himself a huge house all in the Empire style—rows of windows flaming with light, though it only shows as a pin prick from where I live.’
‘Did they see Napoleon?’
‘That’s right. They went up and looked through one of the windows. Napoleon was there all right.’
‘What was he doing?’
‘Walking up and down—up and down all the time—left-
And therein lies the problem for people who -
in this short life on earth -
or any of the other things that cause us to not accept Him.
Too long doing this will bring us to the point where we won’t even allow ourselves to consider the possibility of accepting Him -
Be careful what you ask for -
Because while God will offer His gift of Salvation -
He won’t force us to accept it -
But he will allow us to be separated from Him if that’s what we want.
What do you want?
What are you asking for?
Do you want to be saved?
Who is saving you?
October 20, 2012
The gates of Hell are locked from the inside.