Monday, November 15, 2010

The central Christian belief

cross-in-snow-350 The central Christian belief is that Christ's death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work. I will tell you what I think it is like…. A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.
    We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build up as to how Christ’s death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: mere plans or diagrams to be left alone if they do not help us, and, even if they do help us, not to be confused with the thing itself. All the same, some of these theories are worth looking at.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 54-56.


  1. Ken, you've inadvertently left out a few words in the first sentence, both in your original post, and here. (One of those words is "Christ"!) You should probably fix that :)

  2. "The central Christian belief is that Christ's death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter."

    What Lewis is introducing here are theories of the atonement -- how the death of Christ is of benefit to us. And there are many theories on "how it works." The New Testament itself suggests several theories:

    1. Jesus' death as our example (Phil 2:3-8)
    2. Jesus' death as our ransom (Eph 1:7)
    3. Jesus' death as our propitiation or expiation (1 John 2:2, 4:10)
    4. Jesus is our reconciliation (Rom 5:10-11)

    This is just the start of a list! Lewis is hesitant about the Penal-Substitution Theory of Atonement (related to Jesus' death as our propitiation) and seems somewhat positive toward the Moral Influence Theory of Atonement (related to Jesus as our example).

    Definitely a topic worth exploring. Lewis is correct to that we "can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works." But given the biblical explanations and various theological understandings which have developed, I'd recommend exercising your mind and looking into it.

  3. Thanks, Margaret. You are a very good editor. Please let me know if I mess up anything again; it's good to know you're out there reading carefully. I have no idea how I did that and then repeated the error, except to say that I was heading for bed when I posted and way too excited about my new Scooby Doo graphic for Squidoo!

    I have inserted the three critical words into the post, deleted my first comment and reposted that comment correctly.

    I can't believe the weekend is over already and I apparently didn't catch up on my sleep!

    Thanks again, Margaret.

  4. As you said Ken it is worth looking into why Christ's death has released us from the penalty of our sin. How can we explain it to others if we don't have a good Biblical understanding of why this had to happen. I believe it is hard to tell others about Christ's death because they don't have the Holy Spirit to open their minds to the wonder of it all. I hope the next few readings clears it up for me.
    I find it like a Catch 22. I try to tell people about Christ dying for me but until that other person has a revelation that ends up with a personal relationship with God they are usally not interested. I feel I am going around in circles and will be following the comments to see if anybody has the secret for sharing the story of Jesus's death.

  5. Gary, I wish I had the secret! But sadly, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Until someone has had a revelation – until the Holy Spirit has entered in – any "sharing" we do seems to fall on deaf ears. And not just deaf, but annoyed ears... and sometimes even ANGRY ears... I used to possess ears like that, and I remember it well. I'm just not sure what to do about it.

  6. The law of God, the foundation of His government in heaven, was as sacred as God Himself and must have been in place, otherwise Lucifer and his angels would have been innocent of any crime Romans 4:15. It all started in heaven when Lucifer rebelled. Revelation 12:7-9 tells us that there was war in heaven. Ezekiel 28:13-17 described Lucifer and the position he held in heaven.

    Lucifer's act of rebellion in convincing one third of the angels to overthrow God and His government precipitated in his expulsion from heaven and was cast down to this earth with his fallen angels. The only access he had to Adam and Eve was at the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was there that the promise of salvation was given to our first parents. In Genesis 3:15 The death knell in that one verse was pronounced upon Satan and was fulfilled at the cross and its final culmination will take place mentioned in Matthew 25:41

    God in His omniscience foreknew us all before we were even conceived Jeremiah 1:5 He had a plan in place in the event of sin entering this earth to save all mankind through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    In Isaiah 43:12 God says we are His witnesses. We have been given our marching orders to proclaim a warning message of salvation to a dying world. We have not been given a mandate to convinct anyone that is the work Holy Spirit. We ought to exemplify the life of Christ Matthew 11:39 he said "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:" in reaching out to others.

  7. Amen...if we actually put Christ first and let the rest be init's proper postion..imagine what we could collectively accomplish!