Tag Archives: Christian Hedonism

“Hammer your way through a continued argument” by C.S. Lewis

“I should rather like to attend your Greek class, for it is a perpetual puzzle to me how New Testament Greek got the reputation of being easy. St Luke I find particularly difficult.

As regards matter– leaving the question of language– you will be glad to hear that I am at last beginning to get some small understanding of St Paul: hitherto an author quite opaque to me.

I am speaking now, of course, of the general drift of whole epistles: short passages, treated devotionally, are of course another matter. And yet the distinction is not, for me, quite a happy one.

Devotion is best raised when we intend something else. At least that is my experience.

Sit down to meditate devotionally on a single verse, and nothing happens. Hammer your way through a continued argument, just as you would in a profane writer, and the heart will sometimes sing unbidden.”

–C.S. Lewis, “To Dom Bede Griffiths” (April 4, 1934) in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949, Volume 2, Ed. Walter Hooper (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), 136.

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“The sermons of Jonathan Edwards” by Hughes Oliphant Old

“What was distinct about the religious life of New England? It was a passion for God. Call it a delight in God; call it conversion; call it charity; call it religious affection; it all amounted to the same thing, a passionate love for God.

When all is said about the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, they have a sacred passion about them.

His sermons are intellectually brilliant, morally perceptive, theologically challenging– all of this, to be sure — but above all they have a passionate holiness about them which brings us to delight in God.

For Edwards, it was this delighting in God which was worship.”

–Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church: Moderatism, Pietism, and Awakening, Volume 5 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 5: 293.

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“The most important business of your life” by George Mueller

“We have, through the goodness of the Lord, been permitted to enter upon another year, and the minds of many among us will no doubt be occupied with plans for the future and the various fears of our work and service for the Lord.

If our lives are spared, we shall be engaged in those: the welfare of our families, the prosperity of our business, our work and service for Christ may be considered the most important matters to be attended to; but according to my judgment the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord.

Other things may press upon you, the Lord’s work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life.

This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.

But in what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How shall we obtain such an all-sufficient, soul-satisfying portion in Him as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison?

 I answer, this happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ.

In the Scriptures, by the power of the Holy Ghost, He makes Himself known unto our souls… [Therefore] The very earliest portion of the day we can command should be devoted to the meditation on Scriptures. 

Our souls should feed upon the Word…. This intimate experimental acquaintance with Him will make us truly happy.

Nothing else will…. In God our Father, and the blessed Jesus, our souls have a rich, divine, imperishable, eternal treasure. Let us enter into practical possession of these true riches; yea, let the remaining days of our earthly pilgrimage be spent in an ever increasing, devoted, earnest consecration of our souls to God.”

–George Mueller, A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with George Mueller, Written by Himself (Muskegon, Mich.: Dust and Ashes Publications, 2003), 730-732. It is excerpted from a sermon the 59-year-old Mueller preached to his congregation at a New Year’s service.

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“Devastating desire” by C.S. Lewis

“I feel strongly, with you, that there was something more than a physical pleasure in those youthful activities. Even now, at my age, do we often have a purely physical pleasure?

Well, perhaps, a few of the more hopelessly prosaic ones: say, scratching or getting one’s shoes off when one’s feet are tired.

I’m sure my meals are not a purely physical pleasure. All the associations of every other time one has had the same food (every rasher of bacon is now 56 years thick with me) come in: and with the things like Bread, Wine, Honey, Apples, there are all the echoes of myth, fairy-tale, poetry, and Scripture.

So that the physical pleasure is also imaginative and even spiritual. Every meal can be a kind of lower sacrament.

‘Devastating gratitude’ is a good phrase: but my own experience is rather ‘devastating desire’– desire for that-of-which-the-present-joy-is-a-Reminder.

All my life nature and art have been reminding me of something I’ve never seen: saying ‘Look! What does this– and this– remind you of?’

I am so glad that you find (as I do too) that life, far from getting dull and empty as one grows older, opens out. It is like being in a house where one keeps on discovering new rooms.”

–C.S. Lewis, “To Mary Van Deusen” (March 3, 1955) in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Volume 3 (Ed. Walter Hooper; New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 583-584.

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“On the Enemy’s ground” by C.S. Lewis

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure.

All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillian, 1950), 49.

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“Joy is the serious business of Heaven” by C.S. Lewis

“I do not think that the life of Heaven bears any analogy to play or dance in respect of frivolity. I do think that while we are in this ‘valley of tears,’ cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous.

For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order–with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order?

How can you find any image of this in the ‘serious’ activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heart-broken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis?

No, Malcolm. It is only in our ‘hours-off,’ only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were place here to live.

But in this world everything is upside down. That which , if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.”

–C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (San Diego: Harvest, 1964), 92-93.

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“Pouring out His oil” by John Owen

“When we find any of the good truths of the gospel come home to our souls with life, vigor, and power, giving us gladness of heart, transforming us into the image and likeness of it— the Holy Ghost is then at His work, pouring out of His oil.”

–John Owen, Communion with the Triune God, Eds. Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 387-388.

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