Comparing the idea of Christian ethics to the readings in C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity
In this volume, Lewis explicates the meaning of ‘law’ in the material sense as well as the spiritual sense. Lewis speaks of the Law of Nature and how it “must be something above and beyond the actual facts of human behaviour (p. 23).” As Lewis explains further, he parallels observation with speculation and notes that man doesn’t observe he is man, he in fact knows and actively recognizes he is man as he says “we are men (ibid).”
When man received the Mosaic law, he recognized that there were regulations exacted by God to his people. Wisdom, as interpreted by the Jews, was knowing through God and faith, whereas Socratic wisdom consisted of knowing that one cannot know all.
As the Mosaic law sustained the people throughout the centuries, it became clear that it was imperative that the law be fulfilled so that the men of Lewis’ description could be the recipients of the comprehensive blessings associated with the fulfillment of the Law. Indeed, it was faith that made Abraham righteous; the law came after. As was detailed in the lecture of May 18th, the law was always destined to prepare for Christ as it was a step on the path to Him.
There are three kinds of Catholic law: eternal law; natural law, and positive law (as discussed in the lecture on May 19th). The Ten Commandments stood to govern exterior human acts and prepare for Christ whilst the New Law is the Law of Love and is in direct correlation with freedom and grace. This law fulfills the Old Law and governs interior human acts.
As Christ said, “Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.” Humanity obeying this law would singlehandedly solve most of the ethical and moral problems in the world. The foundation of iniquity to Lewis is pride (p. 122) and as such, the solution of the aforementioned problems would be attained through the dissolution of pride which “leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind (ibid).” Pride is the antithesis of Godliness; it is doing to others the polar opposite of what one would want done to him.
Another pertinent issue is that of creation. As the human mind has the ability to create and innovate, we see that the fulfillment of the theory that the primary desire of the mind is to know and grow in intellect. As man increasingly has the power to destroy and create, and as this power grows, we see that there is a dramatic potential to abuse and misuse this sacred power to invent and innovate.
The dynamism of the minds should not be interpreted as allowing the Law to be dynamic since dynamism of the Law would make it flexible. As such, it would heighten the tolerance of unethical practices and concepts. Because of the staunch progressiveness that the world consistently finds itself confronting, there is an intensified sense of devotion to Christian and Catholic ethics. As such, it would present an inaccurate view of the Catholicism ethic if Catholics were to just remain silent at the sidelines. The inherent yearning for righteousness and abidance in the Law would allow the elimination of pride, immorality, and the abuse of technology and innovation.
Lewis is the epitome of a Christian apologist. As his philosophies and works continue to be published around the world, Christianity will always have a firm defender of the faith. In order to ameliorate some of the circumstances that the changing world is currently facing, it would be most beneficial if humanity were to abide by Lewis’ principles and unchanging words. The Law is of the utmost benefit to humanity; and when each individual realizes the significance of the blessings of the Law and Christian Ethics, it can only be reasonably speculated that the world will be a better place.