Observations Generated in the Course of Life

S.F.–however bad most of it is–is now the chief vehicle for ‘thoughts that wander up and down eternity’. How trivial, by comparison, are most of the issues presented by our ‘serious’ novelists!

–C.S.Lewis opining in a letter to the Rev. Christopher Robin Paul Antsey, 2 November, 1960.

Not your usual point of view on S.F., but then the usual point of view is not based on being informed about S.F., is it? One may wonder if Lewis was sufficiently informed about contemporary ‘serious’ novelists, but one may not wonder about his knowing enough about S.F. to be able to pronounce on that.

* * *

Making final points on the Pelagian view, Strong says:

It rests upon false philosophical principles; as, for example: (a) that the human will is simply the faculty of volitions; whereas it is also, and chiefly, the faculty of self-determination to an ultimate end;

Exactly what he means by that I’m finding hard to determine. What is a faculty of volitions? That with which one wants? What’s the difference between that and that with which one sets oneself to achieve what one most fundamentally wants? He’s obviously on the side of human inability, but what does this add to his argument? I would have to find out more about his views on these faculties.

He does seem to be saying that we order our desires, subordinating some to others. By which he makes a good point: it is the ground for the argument for the inextricable role of reason in the determination of what we want.

If I have understood him.

(b) that the power of a contrary choice is essential to the existence of will; whereas the will fundamentally determined to self-gratification has this power only with respect to subordinate choices, and cannot by a single volition reverse its moral state;

He seems to be saying that Pelagius made the mistake of disallowing for an ordering of desires, with his rebuttal. And clearly Strong is against the notion of a will operating virtuously only at the point of indifference. Reason orders preference, but the preferring is there: we want and are not indifferent. To be indifferent is not to choose.

(c) that ability is the measure of obligation,–a principle which would diminish the sinner’s responsibility, just in proportion to his progress in sin;

Wrong! It is not a problem of a natural ability: we have that and it is a measure of our obligation, our responsibility. It is a moral inability (desire) in which our wills are bound. There he is right, but does he distinguish these abilities?

(d) that law consists only in positive enactment; whereas it is the demand of perfect harmony with God, inwrought into man’s moral nature;

Which is right. Pelagius seemed to hold that sin was only sin in the act–the thought did not, in fact, count for him. Strong is right in rejecting that: God requires of us to will, to desire what is right and to repudiate sin not simply by constraint.

(e) that each human soul is immediately created by God, and holds no other relations to moral law than those which are individual; whereas all human souls are organically connected with each other, and together have a corporate relation to God’s law, by virtue of their derivation from one common stock.

Difficult to determine here because his notions of racial sin seem to fly in the face of limited atonement. Not that I’m entirely persuaded against it, but I want to know more about the reach of the implications of the idea. I don’t remember encountering it before, unless it is the basis of all sublapsarianism, in which case it is what I was taught in seminary.


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