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God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics Paperback – March 24, 1972

4.7 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Both Lewis's] searching mind and [his] poetic spirit are readily evident….Here the reader finds the tough-minded polemicist relishing the debate; here, too, the kindly teacher explaining the cosmic extraction by means of clarifying analogies…with all the humility and grace of a man who knows how much more remains to be known." --New York Times Book Review --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

(1898-1963) He held the chair of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature at Cambridge University in England. Among his many famous works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, the Chronicles of Narnia series, Miracles, The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, and Surprised by Joy.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Reprint edition (March 24, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802808689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802808684
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First, be aware that this collection was originally published in the UK under the title "Undeceptions - Essays on Theology and Ethics". Next, be aware that there is a UK Fontana paperback lurking about called "God in the Dock - Essays on Theology" that is substantially shorter than this collection. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).
Second, the reader should know that Lewis's shorter works were generally originally composed as speeches or as articles for periodicals. Various sets of them were collected and published in book form both during his life and after his death. Trying to determine what works are in what collections is difficult - most works appear in more than one collection, some works appear under more than one title, and some collections (including this one) appear under more than one title.
To aid readers, in this review I've listed the works in this collection, with notes indicating other collections they have appeared in. Where a work has appeared under more than one title, I give both titles separated by a slash.
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Have you ever wanted to read C.S. Lewis' thoughts on a variety of subjects? If so, then this book is for you. There are 48 separate essays, which vary in length from a few pages to around 12. Such topics include "Religion and Science," "Is Theism Important?" "The Decline of Religion," and the actual essay entitled "God in the Dock." The latter essay is about how we put ourselves on the bench and God in the dock. We will believe in God only if he answers the hard questions for us, and then we may actually "acquit" God. Like Lewis' other works, it is very thought prokoving. There are also 12 letters which Lewis wrote that cover a variety of topics including capital punishment and singing hymns. These letters show both Lewis' personality and intellect. When I first checked this book out of the library and read a few of the essays, I had to buy it. For a long time I have asked myself, "What does Lewis think of this or that issue?" This book is a good way to find out basically what he believes. I don't think reading these essays is an excuse not to read his longer works (such as the utterly amazing "Great Divorce), but they do give a broad picture of what Lewis thinks.
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C.S. Lewis is known for being one of the best apologists (and amateur theologians) of our day. Primarily, Lewis is a writer; he knows how to use words to draw the reader in, and then humbly offers his insights on whatever topic is at hand. It is this humility that I think makes him so accessible - he talks about what he knows and doesn't presume to be an authority over anyone.

About GOD IN THE DOCK specifically, this is a collection of his letters, columns, and speeches. Most are short (4-10 pages) reflections on something he has encountered recently, from animal-rights protestations to dogma within the church to attempts to debunk myth to Christmas. Really, though, each one of these essays is about modernism. Modernism is the arch-enemy to Lewis - in its materialism, rationalism, statism and "groupism", it denies the validity of opposing systems of thought. Miracles are definitively ruled because they can't be reproduced in a lab (which Lewis argues is precisely why they are "miraculous" in the first place." Christian beliefs are discarded because they are similar to other "primitve" myths; Lewis argues that if God is real and we are made in His image, it makes sense that we would have common motifs in how we think about Him.

The essays in GOD IN THE DOCK are mostly designed to show the fallacies in people's thinking. They start with an observation, continue to describe the orthodox Christian point of view, point out something which the reader already knows to be true, and then shows that it makes more sense in the context of orthodox thought rather than modernist thought. What I found most interesting was that the same problems that Lewis wrestled with in his day are the same ones that Americans face today!
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After years of struggling with the modern church's lack of appetite for the intellectual, I finally found an author who wasn't afraid to ask the hard questions that plague Christians and non-Christians alike:
> Should we pray, and [why] does it work?
> Why would God want to bother with a tiny, insignificant planet in the universe?
> Has science negated God?
> Why should anyone go to church?
...and many more challenging topics in this complilation of essays written over CS Lewis's lifetime.
The amazing thing about this book is he doesn't just ask the hard questions--he has well thought out, mind-blowing answers as well, backed up by theologians, scientists, the Socratic method, and of course, the Bible. The essays may have been written in the 1940s and 50s, but they have lost none of their relevance or power in today's world.
As a Christian, this book has taken me to a whole new depth of understanding about what I believe. As a thinking person, it challenged me to look at my motivations for everything I do. For example: Why do I try to be a good person? Why is "good" better than "bad"?
I would recommend this book to any Christian with a thirst for deeper understanding of Christian theology. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is interested in what being a Christian REALLY means at the foundation, not what modern culture has tried to make it mean.
Some people may have trouble reading this book --it is definitely not light reading. Lewis was an English professor at Cambridge, and it shows in his dense writing and complex subject matter. He frequently quotes Latin and from sources and authors only a literature scholar would know of. However, the editor does a good job in translating and citing references where appropriate.
It is not enough to say that I have been profoundly moved and changed by this book. Definitely, definitely read it.
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