At the risk of being misunderstood, I want to re-package a word that makes many Christians uncomfortable: Evolution. I want to argue that Christians are evolving. Say what?
I looked around and found evolution defined as any process of formation or growth; a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development. This caused me to think about what Christian theologians refer to as progressive sanctification, the process whereby one becomes more and more like Jesus Christ. Of course, while in the process one has not arrived. I am not like Christ, I am becoming like Christ. This means I still have unChristlike attributes and attitudes to deal with.
Mr. Edward Lofstrom understood what I’m talking about. He wrote to C. S. Lewis seeking his counsel on the matter. Would one of Mr. Lewis’s books help? If so, which one?
In a letter dated March 8, 1959, Lewis responds to Edward in words that show Lewis too had personal experience of the struggle:
“I very much doubt if any book, least of all a book by me, would much help anyone in the condition you describe. For a book can offer only thoughts and thoughts are not what such a person, perhaps, needs most. One can argue against egoism, but then egoism is not his trouble. If he were a real egoist he would be either blissfully unconscious of the fact or else fully convinced that egoism was the rational attitude. You, on the other hand, suffer from a more than ordinary horror of egoism which you share with us all. And therefore, as you will see, the thing you need is not to think more or better about it but to think less: to act unselfishly—that is, charitably and justly—and leave the state of your feelings for God to deal with in His own way and His own time. And this of course you know better than I do.
“But how to do it? For the very effort to forget something is itself a remembering of that something! I think, if I were in your shoes I should try to regard this sense of self-imprisonment not at all as a sin but as a mere tribulation, like rheumatism, to be endured in the same way. It has no doubt its medical side: diet, exercise, and recreations might all be considered. And, though this is a hard saying, your early upbringing may have something to do with it. Great piety in the parents can produce in the child a mistaken sense of guilt: may lead him to regard as sin what is really not sin at all but merely the fact that he is a boy and not a mature Christian.”1
“But merely the fact that he is a boy and not a mature Christian.” I should post that over the bathroom mirror.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God . . . And this we will do if God permits.” – Hebrews 6:1-3.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 1027. Italics in original.