Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How Would a Christian Society Look?

Today we are discussing Chapter three of Book Three of Mere Christianity, which is titled Social Morality.  In it, Lewis describes what the New Testament says a fully Christian society would look like.  He describes a society where everyone works, people don’t fixate on luxuries or posturing, authority is obeyed, and people are courteous and cheerful.

“If there were such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression.  We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, “advanced,” but its family life and its code of manners were rather old-fashioned- perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic.  Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing.  That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine.  We have all departed from that total plan in different way, and each of us wants to make out that his own modifications of the original plan is the plan itself.  You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian:  every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest.  That is why we do not get much further:  and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say that they are fighting for Christianity.”

The first part of the paragraph reminds me of something my father said when I was growing up.   He came to the United States of America during the Hungarian Revolution.  I vaguely remember asking him how a system he felt compelled to stand against and eventually leave (which meant leaving family and friends) came into existence.  He said to me “Honeygirl, if Christians behaved like Christians, Karl Marx could have taken his manifesto and stuck it up his @$$. ”

Here I think comes into play the idea that people want to take bits and pieces of it.  First of all, you can’t remove God from it.  Second of all, Christianity is a choice, and Communism as a political and economic system was not.

Am I guilty of “taking bits and pieces of it”.  I’m sure I do.  I know that when I see the words “Communism” and “Socialism”, my hackles are raised.  My daddy had to leave home and family because he stood against those things.  Sure, and argument could be made that if he hadn’t I’d never have been born, since he met my mother here in Chicago.   But I still feel badly for him, since I know it would have broken my heart to leave my mother and father and never see them again.  

I do not, however, think that Lewis was making a case for Communism.  He was pointing out that such a society would not resemble our own.  I’m sure if he had been communicating with a Communist audience in mind, he would have emphasized other points, such as family life.

6 comments:

nance marie said...

i don't think that humans can do it. i mean, no believer can be a perfect Christian. perhaps that is part of what Jesus was pointing out. that though one believes in Him, that does not mean that they are perfected in this lifetime, and that is why we need Him now just as much as ever.

why we are not made whole and able to rise above the sin, i don't have the answer to that. but, could we be used if we were sinless? would people believe if they knew that they would be made to rise above the sin now? or is that something that we are meant to battle?

Anne Lang Bundy said...

Free will makes all the difference.

That Christian lifestyle? Even among Christians, it is not readily accepted, even when another attempts to live it without asking it of anyone else. Perhaps seeing an example we don't wish to live up to is enough to provoke a contempt which masquerades as liberty.

Steve Martin said...

John Calvin's Geneva was supposed to be a Christian society.

It didn't work out too well.

No, in this world it will never work out too well for we still have that Old Adam and Old Eve dogging us until death.

katdish said...

I think so much goes to motivation. When we are compelled by love--love of God, love of one another--so many other things seem less important. I can't compel anyone else to do or act in a way that is pleasing to God, I can only strive to do so myself. Your daddy was a wise man.

jasonS said...

I've thought these things before. Even made the correlation once in a sermon about the believers in Acts and communism... you should have seen people's reaction. The reality is without God, without the Holy Spirit indwelling and empowering us, it cannot work. It's His heart, fruit, and life that makes any sustained goodness possible. Great thoughts, Helen. And I love your dad's quote. :)

Glynn said...

I don't think he was making a case for communism, either. he was making a case for love.