Warnings of a Free Thinker. C. S. Lewis versus the Progressives.

One of my favorite writers of all time is C. S. Lewis, the creator of Narnia and any number of works of fiction and nonfiction.  He was a Christian apologist without apology.  And he could not be called a conservative.

For one, he was English, not American, so terms like liberal or conservative did not really apply.  Instead, I would describe him as a Free Thinker.  By that I mean Professor Lewis reached his opinion by careful study and thinking through the issue and came to rational, reasonable conclusions.  He was not swayed by his emotions the way so many of us are.  And in the process of his thinking, if he leaned in any direction, it was in the direction of freedom – freedom in Christ under God to be sure, but freedom.

For two, Lewis was a keen observer of the politics of his day.  He understood Hitler and what the Nazis represented, but he did not dwell there.  Instead, he applied his thoughts to people down through the ages and knew that the current events were only a symptom of a much larger disease.

For me, I see the history of humanity as a struggle between anarchy and tyranny.  And we human beings for the most part find true anarchy so destructive and abhorrent, we willingly and have willingly given ourselves over and over to whatever tyrant promises safety, security and bread.  This absolute, historical trend is continuing to this day.

In America, we have this tradition:  “Give us your tired, your hungry, your poor huddled masses yearning to be free.”  The founding fathers understood that this nation was an experiment, not drawn out of whole cloth as the Magna Charta, the English Parliament (in particular the House of Commons) and English common law will attest, but an experiment all the same.  In America, we are trying to walk the tightrope and not fall to the left or right – neither into tyranny nor anarchy.  This had never successfully been done before in all of history.

Yet here we are, and presently there are those in power offering all sorts of wonderful sounding things with regard to safety, security and bread.  And we are falling.  Lewis well understood the danger.  He said:

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.   C. S. Lewis

We are told that to stand in the way of change is to stand in the way of progress.  Entitlements, we are told, are only meant to make life fair.  Social Justice is the high ideal and individuals need to get in line.  Morality is legislated and enforced by rules and regulations.  And all of this is justified under the idea of making people equal, which in actual practice means making everyone the same.  As far as that goes, I recommend another author, Madeleine L’engle and her book, Wrinkle in Time where you can see how this sort of thinking inevitably plays out.

Lewis also had a word for this kind of progress.  In fact, I recommend it for everyone who calls themselves a “progressive” or who is tempted to jump on the progressive bandwagon:

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.   C. S. Lewis

I believe this is the only understanding a Christian can have.  Our faith is built on the idea that we are able by God’s grace to turn around and go the other way.  And Jesus would have no problem applying this individual idea to a whole society – exactly as the proponents of so-called social justice make the application.  Think about that one!

At the same time, I see where following the path we are currently on, the path so overwhelmingly supported in the media and our institutions of higher learning is currently shredding liberty in America.  Freedoms are being lost.  Someone is offering safety, security and bread, but before we swallow that bread, I believe we all better look carefully at where we are likely to end up.  The current entitlement based, progressive bread may well be poisoned.  Again, the warning:

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.   C. S. Lewis 

I encourage everyone and certainly every Christian person who is willing to stand up for freedom and against tyranny.  I would like to see my nation filled to overflowing with Free Thinkers.  The alternative is to be a slave to one’s emotions.  Consider:  Hitler was not the first person to take advantage of a whole population that fell into that emotional, slavery trap, and he won’t be the last.

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