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Men Without Chests

We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

Chapter 1, “Men Without Chests” The Abolition of Man

1. Bible Study: Read Colossians 2:1–8 and then reflect on the following questions.

Colossians 2:1–8

I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (NIV)


  1. What does Paul mean when he states that he is “contending”  for the Christians in Colossae and Laodicea? Is there a need  to be “contending” for fellow believers in today’s culture? If  so, why? 
  2. What is Paul’s goal for the people he’s writing to? How might  you restate Paul’s goal for Christian’s living in today’s world? 
  3. What are some of the dangers Paul warns the believers about?  
  4. What are some of the fine-sounding arguments, hollow and  deceptive philosophies, human traditions, and spiritual forces  of this world that you can identify in our world today?
  5. How does Paul recommend Christians combat these “enemies”  of Christ and Christianity? What strategies can you use in  your life today to combat these enemies of the faith? 

2.  Read The Abolition of Man, Chapter 1, “Men Without Chests.”

Chapter Summary: In the first lecture, “Men Without Chests,” Lewis deconstructs an educational model being imposed on children via a textbook Lewis calls, under a pseudonym, The Green Book. The unstated worldview behind The Green Book seeks to inculcate young minds against any objective values by cocooning them solely within their feelings and emotions. 

Conversely, Lewis believes educators are to help students understand right from wrong and plant “just sentiments” in the fertile minds of their students allowing the students to repel propaganda through objective truth. In Lewis’s template of “The head rules the belly through the chest,” the chest is the mediator between our animal urges and minds, with the chest being the mechanism for training and tempering the belly. Without the chest, our disordered loves run wild.

Key Quotes to Look For:

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.”

“No emotion is, in itself, a judgment; in that sense all emotions and sentiments are alogical. But they can be reasonable or unreasonable as they conform to Reason or fail to conform. The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should obey.”

“Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism.”

“The head rules the belly through the chest.”

“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

3. Watch Video: Men Without Chests – A Guided Reading

Learning Goal:

Your learning goal for this lecture is simple: when we are done, you should understand why the rejection of objective moral value—or what we might call classical realism—relativizes our understanding of human affections and undermines our approach to education and ethical formation.

4. Questions:

(1) What, according to Lewis, have Gaius and Titius done wrong in The Green Book?

(2) Lewis writes that the task of the modern educator “is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.” What does he mean by this?

(3) Lewis also writes, “Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism.” What are some of the ways followers of Christ might train their emotions?

(4) What does Lewis mean by “the chest”?

(5) How does Gaius and Titius’s The Green Book produce “men without chests”?

5. Make It Personal

  • Why is the statement “truth is relative” an absolute statement? How would you explain this idea to someone who states that “truth is relative”?
  • Read and meditate upon Romans 12:1–2:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

Make a list of habits you might implement in your daily life  to renew your mind according to Christ’s truth rather than the  pattern of this world. Then try practicing these habits daily for the next two weeks.

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Bryan C. Hollon

Bryan C. Hollon, Ph.D., is Dean President of Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Previously he served as the City Director of the C.S. Lewis Institute of Northeast Ohio and as a Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Christian Faith & Culture at Malone University. Dr. Hollon was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) in 2015. In 2017, he planted and pastored St. John’s Anglican Church in Canton, Ohio until 2021. As a scholar, Dr. Hollon specializes in ressourcement theology, which is best exemplified in the work of Henri de Lubac. He is also a proponent of the great consensual tradition that C.S. Lewis referred to as “Mere Christianity.”


Joseph A. Kohm

Joseph A. Kohm, C.S. Lewis Institute Vice President for Development and City Director for Virginia Beach. Joe is an attorney and formerly worked as a Certified Major League Baseball Player Agent. He earned his Master’s in Management Science from the State University of New York at Oswego and both his J.D. and M.Div. from Regent University. Joe is the author of The Unknown Garden of Another’s Heart: The Surprising Friendship between C.S. Lewis and Arthur Greeves (Wipf and Stock, 2022.)


Joel Woodruff

Joel Woodruff, President, C.S. Lewis Institute, has worked in higher education, “tent-making,” nonprofit administration, and pastoral ministries in Alaska, Israel, Hungary, France, and Northern Virginia. He served as Dean of Students, Chaplain, and Professor of Bible & Theology at European Bible Institute, where he helped train Europeans both for professional ministry and to be Christian leaders in the marketplace. Prior to joining the Institute, he was on the leadership team of Oakwood Services International, a nonprofit educational and humanitarian organization. He is a graduate of Wheaton College, earned his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and has a doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. As a Parish-Pulpit Fellow, he studied Biblical Backgrounds & Archaeology in Israel for a year.


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