C.S. Lewis Called for a Christian Theocracy

By Robert L. Johnson.
 
Exclusive to STR
 
After reading articles by David J. Theroux of the C.S. Lewis Society which had links at www.strike-the-root.com and which paint the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis as a freedom loving libertarian, I had a hard time reconciling what little I do clearly know of Lewis with the claims made by Theroux. The only book I’ve read that Lewis wrote is Mere Christianity. In Mere Christianity it is clear Lewis thought a Christian government and society were good things. And just the way Mere Christianity came about makes it clear Lewis was in bed with the British government and Crown.
 
The book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is largely a collection of talks he gave on the radio during World War Two. They started in August of 1941 and ended in April of 1944. Lewis started his talks after he was invited to do so by the British government. He gave them via radio stations owned by the British Broadcasting Corporation which is owned and controlled by the British government and the British Crown. In August of 1941 England was losing the war it had started with National Socialist Germany. Dunkirk, the blitzkrieg battle in which the German military pushed all British and French armies off of the continent of Europe, was a fresh wound the British Crown and government were still licking. They desperately needed to help give their subjects a reinforced “stiff upper lip” the British are so famous for. What better way than to paint the war as a struggle between the good Christians, the British, and the evil Atheists or heathens, the Germans, instead of what it really was, an unnecessary war[1]?  C.S. Lewis was crucial in creating this government deception.
 
Also, in August of 1941 when Lewis started his government inspired and endorsed radio show which eventually became Mere Christianity, there were probably millions of Christians in Britain who were wondering why the British government had allied itself with the the openly atheist and communist government of the Soviet Union. By that time the Communists had murdered through executions and starvation in Ukraine alone over 14.5 million people[2] who were mostly Christians, not to mention millions more who were executed or died in Communist concentration camps. Lewis gave his tacit approval of the alliance between Britain and the Soviet Union by his silence on the matter. Due to Lewis’ stature as a respected intellectual and Christian, this apparently placated the Christians and prevented these unwanted questions, which the British government wanted and needed to avoid. Lewis provided this important service to the government and powers that be with his Christian radio show as well as with the talks/speeches he gave to British soldiers. In fact, the BBC states that Lewis considered this work as his “war work.”
 
In Book III in Mere Christianity under section 3, Social Morality, Lewis promotes the idea of a Christian society and government. He writes that many Christians believe the Christian clergy should create a political program for society. Lewis thinks these Christians are wrong because the clergy “are those particular people within the whole Church who have been specially trained and set aside to look after what concerns us as creatures who are going to live for ever: and we are asking them to do a quite different job for which they have not been trained.” He continues with saying the duty of creating a Christian political program falls to the laymen of Christianity.
 
Lewis next says that the New Testament “gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like.” If we look at the type of Christian society it is said the apostles tried to establish, we see it is raw communism with a supernatural twist. In the Christian society, instead of the NKVD or KGB coming to kill dissenters, it’s God who does the actual killings. Acts 4:34 - 5:11 tells the story of Christians selling all of their property and going to Peter with the cash. They would give all of the proceeds from the sale of their homes and property to God via Peter and then, it appears, he would divide it up among the faithful as they needed it. They were probably persuaded to do this because they falsely believed what the Bible claims Jesus said at Luke 9:27 among many other places: “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.” This would probably make many who heard it and who heard of it believe Jesus was coming back within their lifetimes. So why not sell the house and join the Christian commune? Jesus might be on the very next cloud!
 
However, one Christian husband tried to hold back some of his cash for himself and his wife and lied to Peter when he asked him if what he was giving him was the full amount he and his wife received from the sale of their home. God killed him. As the story goes, some Christian men took his body to bury it. While they were gone, the dead man’s wife went before Peter not knowing about her husband’s fate, and lied to him about the amount of money they sold their home for. God killed her, too!
 
One part of the New Testament which would be a fly in the ointment of Lewis’ Christian cure-all of a Christian government and society is Romans 13:1-7, which reads, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” Based on this Bible teaching, the powers that be and the authorities are in their positions because God put them there. It is therefore our duty to obey them with fear! Based on this twisted Christian “logic,” who is Lewis to change the form of government? This Biblical teaching seems contrary to the practice of voting since it may remove someone who is “ordained of God” from their position of power. This also makes clear that according to this Bible teaching, America's Founders and everyone who took part in the American Revolution are now suffering “damnation” for not only resisting the established government, but for violently overthrowing it. This Bible teaching really puts a damper on the Fourth of July! But it does make it easier to understand why the government gives huge tax breaks to “revealed” religions!
 
Describing what a Christian society would be like, Lewis writes, “It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Every one is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one's work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them.” (So much for a free market!) “And there is to be no 'swank' or 'side,' no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience – obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls 'busybodies.'”
 
If this doesn't describe a cult, I don't know what does! It sounds too much like Jonestown where 918 followers of the Christian clergyman Jim Jones committed mass suicide and/or were murdered by their church's “magistrates” and leadership. All cults demand obedience, the surrender of your will and common sense to the clergy/leaders. The only true protection from cults is to never stop using our God-given reason. Of course, if we do that, we will stop believing, or never start believing, the ludicrous teachings of the “revealed” religions. After all, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all cults that just happen to be either believed by or tolerated by the majority of people. To show how true this is, think of someone coming up to you today who is Chinese and they tell you that God has chosen them, the Chinese people, “above all people that are upon the face of the Earth.” Would you believe him or her? Or how about a pregnant teenager telling you she's pregnant with the son of God, or an Arab showing you a manuscript that he claims an angel brought to him directly from God, would you believe them? Of course not! Your reason won't let you. And if you objectively apply that same reason to the “revealed” religions, you won't believe them, either.
 
Regarding obedience from children to their parents, I suppose Lewis might agree with the Bible teachings that disobedient children should be put to death by the government/cult/community, such as Leviticus 20:9 demands. It instructs, “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” And Jesus backs this up in Matthew 15:4-6 by calling the Jews “hypocrites” for not following through with this cruel, insane and deadly teaching. Thus in Lewis’ Christian utopia, children who curse their parents might be put to death as Bible-based punishment.
 
It is also apparent from this paragraph that Lewis buys into the inferior position into which the Bible places women. He promotes the idea that wives should be obedient to their husbands and “show outward marks of respect” to them. It's not clear if he's calling on them to bow down before their superior husbands or just to genuflect before them as “an outward mark of respect.” The Stepford Wives comes to mind.
 
When Lewis states that such a Christian society would be “a cheerful society,” I can't believe the cheerfulness could possibly be genuine or deep. It would probably be more along the lines of the empty and hollow smiling Moonies.
 
In Lewis’ Christian society, lending money at interest would probably be outlawed. He makes a factual error when he writes, “Now another point. There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest – what we call investment – is the basis of our whole system.” This is simply a false statement at least in regards to the Jews of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 23:20 plainly and clearly instructs not to lend money at usury to fellow Hebrews/Jews, but it's OK to practice usury against Gentiles. It reads, “Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury.” This Hebrews/Jews over all mentality in the Bible also applies to slavery. In Leviticus 25:44-46, the Jews/Hebrews are taught, “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.” This is racial supremacy at its worse! This does, however, offer some insight into the mindset of the Jews in Israel today, which allows them to be so cold-hearted and cruel toward the Palestinians. Lewis is not clear if his Christian government/society would allow slavery. Since neither the Old or New Testament speaks out against slavery, and the New Testament actually instructs slaves to serve their masters in fear, it is probable that a Bible-based Christian society/government would permit slavery.
 
Lewis' desire for a Christian society is a direct assault on the U.S. Constitution. When America's Founders created the republic, they intentionally made it impossible for one religion to dominate by writing in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Lewis' dream of a Christian government/society will not be realized in the United States unless Christians can do away with the First Amendment. Powerful and wealthy Christian charlatans like Pat Robertson who want an America based on Christianity do all they can to bring it about. Robertson’s Regent University grooms students to take political positions with this C.S. Lewis-approved goal of a Christian government in mind. One high profile graduate of Regent is Virginia’s current governor, Bob McDonnell.
 
A Christian nation, as history shows us, might have to do away with the constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and a free press. The Constitution cannot keep people free from Christian/religious enslavement. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Where then is our republicanism to be found? Not in our constitution certainly, but merely in the spirit of our people.”

[1] Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, Patrick J. Buchanan, Crown Publishers, p. 361

[2] The Harvest of Sorrow, Robert Conquest, Oxford University Press, p. 301

 

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Robert L. Johnson's picture
Columns on STR: 92

Robert Johnson is a paralegal and a freelance writer in Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after reading Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, he became a Deist. In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists and in 1996 he launched the first web site devoted to Deism, www.deism.com.  He is listed in Who's Who in Hell and is the author of Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You and An Answer to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.  He wrote the introduction to The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition and also writes for Examiner.com.

Comments

Suverans2's picture

″Always remember that there are people around you who worship the religion of statism and will have no problem sacrificing you to their god.″ ~ Darrell Anderson
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darrell_Anderson
http://www.simpleliberty.org/essays/hell_no_we_wont_go.htm

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Thanks, Robert, for your post. While it is true that Christianity CAN co-exist with freedom if it is based on a voluntaryist/libertarian substructure, it is rarely the case that its proponents interpret it in a way that makes this likely. The left-Christians have interpreted the sections of the Gospel that address selling one's possessions as "musts," which is something that Christ never intended to be imposed -- especially on non-Christians. Similarly, the right-leaning Christians are often too enamored of the "authorities" to see the despotism of which they are guilty (and which allowed them to murder Christ). They conveniently worship these authorities even though Christianity often demands refusal to obey. And that's just the beginning of the nonsense as you pointed out. I really wish that Christians (whether of the protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox varieties) would practice their beliefs as a suggestion that can be added to the substructure of a voluntary society. But they never do. Take a peek at the Lewciferians at LewRockwell.com -- always encouraging expanding populations and development even though both of these phenomenon are currently driven by state-sponsored market interventions, which Mises himself recognized as having serious negative consequences. The Lewciferians would like to ignore these statements by Mises, but they are there in Human Action and go on at great length (STR will soon feature an article of mine that explicates them). Sadly, folks like Theroux and Rockwell have a particular understanding of both Catholicism and of Christianity that are not necessarily true throughout the history of that organization. Furthermore, leading Christian thinkers such as Augustine have contaminated Christianity with the idea of persecuting heretics and hating the human body and the physical world -- positions that are not necessarily part of Christianity (as Thomas Aquinas noted). I wish these people would stop trying to create nonsensical "causes" that claim that freedom is the result of Christianity. This is a weak reed to build a theory on, and they claim far too much for Christianity and Catholicism. Once Christianity left the confines of Christ's direct example and his direct followers (of whom Paul was not one), it soon fell victim to the self-perpetuating despotism and social vices of all "organizations."

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

PS: My comments are not meant to detract from the many fine accomplishments of Lew or David, but they are really stretching things beyond recognition when they inject the anti-market aspects of their version of Catholicism into the freedom discussion.

B.R. Merrick's picture

I started reading one of the links in the original article on C.S. Lewis, and found myself falling asleep. A great deal of what Lewis thought is premised upon the existence of morality outside of individual valuation, and that this morality can be "discovered" by researching the similarities between various religious beliefs.

I don't believe in Jesus anymore, but I believe far less in any organized religion. They are all (as far as I can tell) soft systems of coercion, and as I will point out until someone can contradict using facts (or until everyone is sick of it), coercion is death.

If you go back to The Four Gospels and read without prejudice, you will see one golden idea after another come forth from Jesus's mouth. Lewis took those words, applied them to various other moral codes and his own English heritage, and came up with the nonsensical idea that we shouldn't loan money with usury. There is nothing libertarian about that conclusion, as loaned money with interest is a volitional, free-market exchange.

I'm glad this article was published. And Lawrence, I notice many similar things over at LewRockwell.com as well. For an "anti-state" website, there appear to be a lot of ideas surrounding soft systems of coercion (even hard systems like the state), but I also agree that there is a lot of important information there.