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God in the Dock Paperback – September 15, 2014
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"Here the reader finds the tough-minded polemicist relishing the debate; here too the kindly teacher explaining a complex abstraction by means of clarifying analogies; here the public speaker addressing his varied audience with all the humility and grace of a man who knows how much more remains to be known."
-- Christianity Today
"For those who know little of C. S. Lewis or his ideas, this book is a good introduction. . . . God in the Dock contains some of the best of Lewis's witty apologetics. And for those who have long known and loved the writings of Lewis, this volume is a welcome addition."
"Takes us on a journey that is thoroughly entrancing. . . . A model of solid common sense and imaginativeness, of balance and ingeniousness, of artistry and coherence."
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Towards the end is a collection of letters, mostly to magazines and journals commenting on this or that paper. Some are funny in his dry way, others show that he was engaged in lots of different areas.
No one can go wrong reading anything he wrote. But this volume should not be your first exposure to him.
These forty-eight essays written over a period of some twenty years and published in a variety of publications provide excellent examples of Lewis’s clear thinking and uncompromising defense of his Christian beliefs. Although there is some diversity of subject in these writings, the editor, Walter Hooper, has sorted them out into three parts and included a fourth part containing a few letters Lewis wrote. As he explains, the first two parts deal mostly with theology while the third has essays dealing more with Christian ethics or behavior. These essays are not so easily differentiated and Lewis is always as much concerned with Christian living as much as Christian beliefs. Ethics and theology blend together more than are separated in these essays.
Lewis does tackle a variety of subjects in these essays, but always he returns to the same themes. He defends the concept of miracles against the idea that science disproves the miraculous by pointing out that science only studies the regularities found in nature. Given that the miraculous is not part of the regularities, science can tell us nothing about it. Lewis also argues against reducing everything to mechanistic naturalism. He insists that to study a thing is not the same as to experience it and one must not assume that either process tells us everything about the thing. A person in love experiences the emotion of love. A doctor studying his brain might perhaps learn something of the chemicals that produce the feelings of being in love, but cannot know what it is to be in love unless he actually experiences it.
C. S. Lewis defends dogma in religion against those who would do away with it in favor of a loose theism by pointing out that a religion with no beliefs is hardly worth the trouble. He writes of the difficulties of spreading the Christian message to a contemporary audience and of the necessity of speaking the common people’s language in order to teach them. The essay God in the Dock notes that unlike the pagans in first century Rome, most people today do not believe themselves to be sinners in need of repentance and instead of fearing the judgment of God, is more inclined to put God in the dock and judge Him.
One of the themes throughout C. S. Lewis’s writings is his contention that it is what is true that matters, not what is modern or progressive or practical. In Bulverism, he attacks the twentieth century fashion of refuting an argument not by proving it is wrong, but by attacking the motives of the debater. (Check your privilege?) He insists that a point is either right or wrong, regardless of the motives of the person stating it, and it can only be shown to be right or wrong using reason.
There is a lot more to this collection and I have only scratched a very shallow line on the surface of the profound riches to be found in reading these essays. I think that any follower of C. S. Lewis will find that reading God in the Dock to be a rewarding experience.
The question is still the same. If indeed we are a bundle of random cells, why does any of our rambling matter? What is the basis of declaring anything good or bad? Do what you want, and good luck to you.
No one will ever win this argument, but Prof. Lewis gave a marvelous try at showing belief in God to be a rational choice, though of course asserting that the matter is, in the end, one of heart belief.
If you love God, and love C.S.Lewis, you will enjoy this book. He does get carried away with his extremely erudite logical calisthenics replete with the Greek and Latin quotes to go with them, but after all, he did not deny it, but rather saw his hyperintellectualism as a liability in being a simple witness for Christ.But his erudition reveals what a truly classically educated person has access to in examining a matter. Would we all had access to that kind of education.
Don't start reading Lewis here. For prose, read Surprised by Joy or Mere Christianity. For fun, read Screwtape. Above all, read his Narnia tales, and his Space Trilogy.For a personal memoir of great pathos by someone who could not resist watching himself even at his greatest extremity, read A Grief Observed.
But if you are a college student, read God in the Dock as an antidote. The same if you have children or grandchildren in college. It's a brilliant and entertaining work.
His is a great body of work that revealed a brilliant, quirky, passionate and perpetually truthseeking man.
Top international reviews
A worthwhile and helpful read that is capable of being absorbed in short bursts.
Of particular interest are the essays which touch on the relationship between Christianity and Science, a subject which has more recently come alive again.