… his defenses against religious belief were going to crumble. And at about this time they started crumbling quickly. … the unbelief he had always thought his protection was in fact his prison.
I don’t think of myself as having defenses against religious belief. I haven’t built great walls, erected desperate barriers, locked doors, or armed myself against faith. Rather, faith puzzles and intrigues me. I wonder about it and look into it. Because I don’t get it.
I’ve heard this formulation before, that the unbeliever rejects God, struggles against the Lord’s intrusion into his life, fights not to believe. The easier thing would be relax and surrender. God will just come right in and take over.
This has not been my experience. Nothing about Christianity makes sense to me. I have to struggle to figure out what it’s trying to tell me. “Sin” is a piece of Christian jargon that doesn’t make any sense. An infant is born out of sin. It is sinful in the womb. Murder is also a sin. As is thinking. What, then, is “sin”? And that’s about as basic a piece of the Christian puzzle as exists. If sin is baffling, how am I supposed to get to God embodying himself as a mortal, then sacrificing himself to himself in order to absolve other mortals from sin?
C. S. Lewis, from Surprised by Joy:
You must picture me … feeling … the steady, unrelenting approach of Him Who I so earnestly desired not to meet. … I gave in and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed … the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England … kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting … eyes in every direction for a chance of escape.
The quote at the top of the post is from Alan Jacobs’ biography of C. S. Lewis. A couple pages later Jacobs quotes Lewis himself on the struggle to ward off God. The writing is certainly vivid. The “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting” body evokes a toddler in full-on temper tantrum. But what is it the toddler wants? What does keeping out this god do for him? Conversely, what does allowing this god in do for him? Well, I guess it allows him to stop struggling. Struggling is a lot of work; knocking that off would be a relief.
For me, all the struggling would be the other way. Every time I’ve tried to wrap my mind around the Christian equation it’s been a struggle. It’s a whole lot easier just to shrug my shoulders and say, “It seems to work for them. That’s nice. So long as it’s not hurting anybody. There are even some who say Jesus motivates them to do good in the world. I like good. People doing good is a good thing.” People do terrible things in the name of Jesus, too.
source: The Narnian: the life and imagination of C. S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs