C.S. Lewis was a brilliant thinker. I have been re-reading Mere Christianity. This material in the book was first given on the radio and then later published in three separate talks.
I will admit it starts out slow and boring. I almost put the book down and gave up on reading it again. Trust me make it through the first few chapters and your golden. Hopefully it will challenge you and make you a better person and Christian.
God has been revealing a lot to me lately (probably more along lines of I am being open to what God has to say). TRUST is what I have issues with. God is destroying the barriers I have built.
The Cardinal Virtues- This is one of the chapters I have recently read in Mere Christianity. Cardinal is not one of those Roman Catholic guys dressed in the funky clothing. It is from the Latin word meaning “hinge of a door”. They were given the name Cardinal virtues because they were pivotal. There are four in total; Prudence, Temperance, Justice and Fortitude.
1. Prudence is practical common sense. God is efficient in my mind. “He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have” (Mere Christianity, 77). God does not care how smart you are, instead He wants you to use what He has given you. In other words be efficient don’t waste energy in becoming someone your not, use the intelligence you have to make a difference.
2. Temperance in today’s world means teetotalism which is a fancy word for abstaining and promoting abstinence from alcoholic beverages. This was not the original definition. “Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further” (Mere Christianity, 78).
- The mark of a bad man is that he struggles to give up what he desires and demands every one else to give it up too. “That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons-marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.”
- God is not deceived by externals. When people focus on the word Temperance as it relates to drinking, they forget that we can be just as intemperate about anything else. Focusing on a golf game or becoming obsessed with shopping is just as dangerous. The only difference is it does not show on the outside as much as a someone who gets drunk at night.
3. Justice- “Justice means much more than the sort of thing that goes on in law courts. It is the old name for everything we should now call ‘fairness’; it includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises, and all that side of life.”
4. Fortitude- “Fortitude includes both kinds of courage-the kind that faces danger as well as the kind that ‘sticks it’ under pain. You will notice, of course, that you cannot practice any of the other virtues very long without bringing this one into play. In the same way a man who perseveres in doing just actions gets in the end a certain quality of character. Now it is that quality rather than the particular actions which we mean when we talk of a virtue.”
If actions were only thought of it would encourage three wrong ideas:
- Right actions done for the wrong reasons do not help build the internal quality or character called a ‘virtue’.
- We would tend to think that God wanted us to simply obey a set of rules: But God really wants people of character or who are willing to build their character.
- “We might think that the ‘virtues’ were necessary only for this present life-that in the other world we could stop being just because there is nothing to quarrel about and stop being brave because there is no danger. There will probably be no occasion for just or courageous acts in the next world, but there will be every occasion for being the sort of people that we can become only as the result of doing such acts here.”
That is deep stuff. Ponder on that for awhile without your brain hurting. If you want more brain hurting and possibly life changing thinking go read this book….twice…maybe even five times.
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