I must, I simply must, read more C.S. Lewis. The man is brilliant, and I think about him every year about this time, remembering that the world lost two great men on November 23, 1963: John F. Kennedy at the hand of an assassin, and Clive Staples Lewis, to more natural causes. But I digress…

I’m reading in his book The Weight of Glory, which is a series of addresses/sermons Lewis gave, and I’m in the middle of one on the subject of “membership”. If you pastor a church, you need to read this. I haven’t even finished it yet, and I’m recommending it. But it’s great. Anyway, without comment, some provocative words from the Oxford don:

It is idle to say that men are of equal value. If value is taken in a worldly sense—if we mean that all men are equally useful or beautiful or good or entertaining—then it is nonsense. If it means that all are of equal value as immortal souls then I think it conceals a dangerous error. The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love. It may be that He loves all equally—He certainly love all to the death—and I am not certain what the expression means. If there is equality it is in His love, not in us.

Selah…

3 responses »

  1. Aaron S says:

    Well, even assuming we all have a zero-value-relative-to-God, which is absolutely reasonable, considering who he is, the all-men-created-equal idea doesn’t require an infinite value. I wouldn’t discount inherent equality among men just based on Lewis’ statement here.

    As far as it’s stated in the Declaration, the idea of equality is stated as the moral imperative for fair treatment among men– but i wonder how much of it was that it was just a simple idea that was able to imply/justify so much popular sentiment, and how much of it was a best-approximation of other principles like equality-in-his-love and love-your-neighbor?

    I love how your equality of men tag shows just this article : P

  2. Byron says:

    A,

    Lewis isn’t talking, as he makes clear in the further context, about the usefulness of men being “equal before the law”; in fact, he suggests that this is good and necessary. Rather, he is talking merely about the obvious fact that men are of differing capabilities, capacities, etc., and also how none of those things matter in the sight of a holy God, Whose love for us is not predicated in the slightest upon anything in ourselves. Further, he is talking (and it’s fascinating) about the fact that it is only as we are part of a body; i.e., the body of Christ, that we escape both the individualism and the collectivism that modern society so highly values and foists upon us at every turn. Good read; highly recommended.

  3. Aaron S says:

    ah! foiled by lack of context again!

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