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How C.S. Lewis Helps Us Understand This Cultural Moment


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If you’ve followed Breakpoint over the last month you’ve heard me say more than once that I think The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis could be the most important book for our cultural moment. It’s one of those remarkably prophetic works that is increasingly applicable to the cultural moment in which we live.

When The Abolition of Man was written, Lewis was uncovering the ways the modern world was logically inconsistent: ideas planted were not bearing the fruit that many moderns hoped they would. I believe the same is true in this generation, as well. For that reason, I think it’s important to understand the observations Lewis was making when he wrote The Abolition of Man. We are so excited to provide an opportunity to study Lewis’ book in-depth.

This month we want to send you a copy of The Abolition of Man, as well as a copy of the brand new book After Humanity: A Guide to C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, written by one of the world’s top C. S. Lewis scholars, Dr. Michael Ward.

Dr. Ward is a senior research fellow at Blackfriars Hall at the University of Oxford, and also a professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, in Texas. He’s authored several books on C. S. Lewis, but this is his first in-depth study guide. For a gift of any amount to the Colson Center this month, we’ll send you a copy of both The Abolition of Man and Ward’s guide, After Humanity.

Earlier this week, Dr. Ward spoke with my colleague, Shane Morris, about the inconsistencies of modern culture and the similar realities Lewis observed. They talked about the sorts of ideas the world is planting in the cultural soil and what the harvest now looks like. Here’s a segment of that conversation:

However much we may wish to be surgeons, chopping up nature to suit our own desires, we must stop at some point. That is to say, we must stop before we chop ourselves up. And that’s why, you know, you reach this position of logical incoherence.

He (C.S. Lewis) talks about the famous case of the Irishman who discovered that a certain kind of stove would heat his house with only half the amount of fuel. And he concluded that if he got two stoves of the same kind, he could heat his house with no fuel at all. It’s that kind of logical incoherence: …because we have such a linear imagination, we think that if we keep taking the same series of steps over and onwards, into the broad, sunlit uplands of the future, that we can go on indefinitely. But there is one step which is incommensurate with all the previous steps. We begin to treat ourselves as raw material, mere nature to be chopped up to suit our own desires.

Science is a good thing, but science pushed to dehumanizing extremes is obviously not a good thing; and likewise, seeing through things, penetrating the veil of falsity, seeing through propaganda, understanding false peace, false consciousness, all that kind of penetration is good. But you see through things in order to see something through them. You see through the window in order to see the garden. But if the garden was transparent, like the window, what would you see through the garden?

The world will become invisible. But a world in which everything is invisible is a world where effectively you are all blind. That’s why he [C.S. Lewis] finishes with that famously negative statement, “To see through all things is the same as not to see.” In other words, humility is really the answer. We mustn’t think that we can master ourselves in the same way that we might rightly choose to master almost everything else.

To get a copy of Dr. Ward’s After Humanity: A Guide to C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, as well as a copy of C.S. Lewis’s classic book, The Abolition of Man, visit www.breakpoint.org/october. Also, Dr. Ward has graciously provided exclusive video introductions of each chapter of The Abolition of Man as well as a live webinar in November, which will be accessible to every person who gives to the Colson Center during the month of October. Join us in this study by making a donation of any amount to the Colson Center at www.breakpoint.org/october.

Publication date: October 18, 2021

Photo courtesy: Ben White/Unsplash

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

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