I remember a conversation I had with a good friend about sin and to illustrate the nature of sin being non-substance (namely the absence of what should be there) we used this illustration (Men without Heads). If you saw a man without a head, you would think there to be something seriously defective with his being. It is no different with bad philosophy and theology. There are many “Men without Heads” and “Men without Chests” (as you will see Lewis refer) running around today.

As I was reading CS Lewis’s The Abolition of Man (which today would be of humankind because of the offensive nature of the word ‘man’ in reference to humanity), I was struck by how Lewis’s criticism of the growing deconstruction movement and “post-moderns” is applicable to the current “emerging church discussion” (not movement…they are merely talking not acting). What is more, Lewis also castigates those skeptics of emotion (i.e. dispensationalists) and shows how they too have adopted a false worldview and propagate impossible doctrines. Lewis in typical fashion, confused me and then delighted me with his poignant commentary of lunacy disguised as philosophy. Here are a few quotes to illustrate:

On Extreme Fundamentalism

“They see the world around them swayed by emotional propaganda-they have learned from tradition that youth is sentimental-and they conclude that the best thing they can do is to fortify the minds of young people against emotion. My own experience as a teacher tells an opposite tale. Of every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defense against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.”

“And all the time-such is the tragic-comedy of our situation-we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more “drive,” or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or “creativity”. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

“From proposition about fact alone no practical conclusion can ever be drawn. This will preserve society cannot lead to do this except by the mediation of society ought to be preserved. This will cost you your life cannot lead directly to do no do this: it can lead to is only through a felt desire or an acknowledged duty of self preservation. The Innovator is trying to get a conclusion in the imperative mood out of premises in the indicative mood: and though he continues trying to all eternity he cannot succeed, for the thing is impossible.”

On Subjectivism in Modern Thought

“Let us regard all ideas of what we ought to do simply as an interesting psychological survival: let us step right out of all that and start doing what we like. Let us decide for ourselves what man is to be and make him into that: not on any ground of imagined value, but because we want him to be such. Having mastered our environment, let us now master ourselves and choose our own destiny. This is a very possible position: and those who hold it cannot be accused of self-contradiction like the half-hearted skeptics who still hope to find “real” values when they have debunked traditional ones. This is the rejection of the concept of value altogether.”

“Traditional values are to be “debunked” and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. The belief that we can invent “ideologies” at pleasure, and the consequent treatment of mankind as mere specimens, preparations, begins to affect our very language. Virtue has become integration and diligence dynamism.”

“What I most fear is the reply that I am “only one more” obscurantist, that this barrier, like all previous barriers set up against the advance of [philosophy] can be safely passed. Such a reply springs from the fatal serialism of the modern imagination- the image of infinite unilinear progression which so haunts our minds. Because we have to use numbers so much we tend to think of every process as if it must be like the numeral series, where every step, to all eternity, is the same kind of step as the one before. There are some progressions in which the last step is sui generis—in-commensurable with the others-and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey. To reduce [absolutes] to mere natural product is a step of the kind. Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost. But you cannot go on “explaining away” for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on “seeing through” things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to “see through” first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.”

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