I’m currently reading C. S. Lewis’s masterpiece Mere Christianity. As literature, it’s scintillating. As philosophy, it’s invigorating. As a guide to Christian living, it’s chastening.
Here’s Lewis on what a fully Christian society would be like.
… the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Every one is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one’s work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no ‘swank’ or ‘side’, no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience — obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls ‘busybodies’.
I challenge anyone reading this post to tell me that the society Lewis envisages is not vastly superior to the one we live in today.
(In the course of searching for the C. S. Lewis quote—so I didn’t have to type it all out—I came across a non-retarded atheist blog, viz. Rick Beckman. How do my co-bloggers feel about a new blogroll category, “We the Damned”? :-P)
33 thoughts on “What a fully Christian society would be like”
Lovely, a theocratic dictatorship. Just what we need. Everybody forced to be obediant to authority and forced to be happy. And who is going to decide what is a silly luxury?
Interesting, Mark V. We both read exactly the same thing, viz., C.S. Lewis’s vision of a fully Christian society.
You see “a theocratic dictatorship.”
I see Libertopia.
I love CS Lewis yet I regret to tell you that ‘A Christian Society’ for today is a myth.
We are not called to create any such thing.
Christ will establish his Kingdom when he returns.
Until then We Christians have no political agenda apart from having the Liberty to preach the gospel, to raise our children in the faith, to live by our Christian convictions… in peace with our neighbors.
Lewis is completely wrong about the idea society for Christianity to be leftist, or without luxury. A Christian man is to work and earn and honest dollar, and that may entail making luxury items for the wealthy… Christianity is not Anti-wealth, not anti-prosperity, etc. A free society is the perfect environment for The Christian to ‘shine his light’ and to contrast his values with the Godless…
An imposed Christianity would contradict the gospel of grace which functions via free will.
And it is by the failure of the Godless values which attracts many of the lost to the Christian gospel… ie Freedom and ‘Reaping what you sow’ must not be circumvented.
Christianity as St Paul preached never promises a utopia.
Only when Christ returns and sets up his kingdom will the closest thing to the ideal be reached and even then there will be sinners born… and his kingdom ends in rebellion.
What an absurdity to think there could ever be a nation in which Woman ‘obey’ their husbands or that children will obey their parents!
These teachings are for *Christian individuals*… not a national program.
Only via the gospel being received on a grand scale and a voluntarily believed acceptance of Christian values could our free society begin to take on the appearance of true Christian characteristics as a dominant culture over and above the Heathern and Godless manifestations… Yet the ideas CS Lewis proposes are absurd.
And Mark… When Christ is King in Israel it will be a Theocracy… of righteousness… Human tyranny will be at an end.
Utopian fantasies always seem vastly superior to truculent reality! That is the source of their perennial appeal.
Tim, Mark V. – I think you have the wrong end of the stick.
Lewis says nothing about forcing people to be happy. What an impossibility! Nor does he say anything about being called upon to create such a society. He goes on to say
The fully Christian society he envisages is, indeed, utopian. Such a society is what would arise naturally, by means of *voluntary* cooperation, if the individuals who comprised it were, to a man, good Christians.
Heaven forbid that we should ever live in a “theocracy”. A benevolent dictatorship is the next best thing to a libertarian utopia, just so long as the “dictator” is Jesus. I could live with that.
When Lewis talks of silly advertisements, I think he means ads like this one.
Get this Richard.
Christ milennial kingdom is Judaisic… not ‘Christian’!
>Such a society is what would arise naturally, by means of *voluntary* cooperation, if the individuals who comprised it were, to a man, good Christians.
Likewise, an Objectivist society would arise naturally by means of voluntary cooperation if the individuals who comprised it were, to a man, good Objectivists. Likewise a Communist society, etc.
The problem with such Utopian scenarios is, of course, human nature…;-)
No way, Tim.
Anyway, I think you’re probably taking Revelation 20:1-6 way too literally. It’s apocalyptic literature, i.e., not necessarily fully factual futurism.
I agree with Daniel.
Utopian ideas are flawed because they all involve unjustly asserting authority over others.
Sorry to dissapoint you Richard, Christ will sit on the throne of David and fulfill all Gods promises to the Jews.
Christianity as you know it is a temporary program which ends at the Rapture.
It is at this time when God’s kingdom is ‘at Hand’ again.
OT, here’s an interesting piece of trivia.
Rumour has it that the greatest heavy metal band of all time, before they abbreviated their name, called themselves Dragonslayer. Kerry King denies it. But he would, wouldn’t he?
Tim, we’ll see who’s right in due course. 🙂
Reed, my understanding is that a libertarian utopia would involve no such thing, being founded on the NIOF principle. What’s your understanding?
Personally, I’m strictly old skool when it comes to Slayer.
However I tend to think even superior death metal will be several rungs lower than silly advertisements in Lewis’ proposed utopia.
I have a confession to make.
I’m eating a Hell pizza.
Richard, you always were a man of taste and distinction.
Which is, unfortunately, more than I can say for your co-blogger Reed. He’s called me out personally in the post above this, yet placed me on moderation when I immediately responded…
You just don’t do that.
Um, Daniel. We have rules.
Oh, ok. I will be more cautious in my use of the term “nimbus”…;-)
Urban Dictionary’s definition of ‘nimbus‘: A term that douchebags use to try and sound cool, while only succeeding in demonstrating their douchebaggery.
To be honest, I read that and thought of North Korea – what I saw was a lot like that.
– Everyone employed
– Virtually everyone working with their hands (notably not their brains)
– No luxuries or advertisements
– Obedience at all levels
– Vast amounts of singing, dancing, cheerful attitudes expressed.
– Worry and anxieties are wrong because the Leaders and the Party have made it a paradise.
– Endless courtesy
No room for anger, dissatisfaction, complaints, challenges or the like.
Oops. Hey, I only make the rules …
Yes, but it would be a voluntary North Korea…
Voluntary except for who enforces what happens when people inevitably, voluntarily have a luxury, or one man’s luxury is another man’s heart and soul. Those who don’t respect because the people they are meant to respect abuse their position.
It works if you craft a “new man” who is perfect.
Which of course is exactly and explicitly the goal of Marxist-Leninism, to remould everyone to be hard working, respectful, obedient, joyful, without worry and to not pursue “silly luxuries” in favour of working hard and producing for the people and society. It doesn’t hide it, the propaganda says so explicitly.
After all if man was perfect, then there wouldn’t be the “original sin” of the Bible and of course everything that flows from that.
>It works if you craft a “new man” who is perfect.
You have hit the nail precisely on the head.
Huge interest in C. S. Lewis, zero interest in penguin necrophilia. It’s a funny old blogosphere.
Funnily enough, the closing chapter of Mere Christianity is titled “The New Men”.
Daniel, it turns out that you fell foul of our spam settings.
Oh, ok, these things happen.
I’ve upped it to 3 or more links.
wow that cover looks really nice (and this is coming from a graphic design student) nice illustration! Ha, I agree, the Kanye West collection was soo bad. So expected too, he didn't surprise at all -__- Also, as if he presents his first one at PFW. What a joke.