A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 8.15.2005

    I Heard it on Good Authority

    Just as many others, I too was “thrown a rope to land” by the influence of Clive Staples Lewis. It seems like another lifetime ago when I was preparing for the ministry--yet struggling with doubts and questions about Christianity. Providence put a small book in my hands one night, and it dealt a mortal blow to my doubts. The book was Mere Christianity. I didn’t read it that night. I drank it in.

    It is hard not to be a cynic. We live in a skeptical age, when students are trained to doubt everything held out as true. I know that a healthy skepticism is the root of all discernment. But discernment is used to finally ferret out a truth on which to stand. No, ours is an age that viciously deconstructs every truth claim. People refuse to believe anything based on authority.I admit it’s a mess.

    The cable shows wrangle together some “authorities” from both sides of an issue to debate everything from Michael Jackson’s guilt (or innocence) to the value of the Patriot Act. Hoping to push the poll numbers their way, both talking heads work hard to sound plausible. Neither the host, the guests, nor the audience seem to be asking, “What’s the truth about this situation?”

    When highly animated debaters (let’s say Hannity and Colmes) go head-to-head on the split screen, remember the following options:

    1. Hannity is right and Colmes is wrong. OR
    2. Colmes is right and Hannity is wrong. OR
    3. They are both wrong.

    They both can’t be right, unless they agree on a truth--and then the ratings go down.In this crazy world, some can actually believe that two different things are the same. Thus, we have an organized, institutionalized madness.Others just throw their hands up and conclude that nothing matters.The madness and the cynicism are killing us.

    The better way is to discern the best authorities that will move us on to truth.Lewis wrote:

    “Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine percent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority--because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to knownothing all his life.” 1

    Let me encourage the reader. Don’t give up on truth--especially spiritual truth. We have been blessed with authorities to help us find it.Choose them wisely.


    1. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Collier, 1952), 63-64.


    At 3:41 PM, Blogger Martin LaBar said...

    I recommend frequent visits to The Window in the Garden Wall. The blogger, whoever he or she is, simply posts a quotation from CSL every day.


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