Back to series

Illustrations of the Tao and Hope for the Future

It is at least arguable that every civilization we find has been derived from another civilization and, in the last resort, from a single centre—‘carried’ like an infectious disease or like the Apostolical succession.” Appendix, “Illustrations of the Tao,”

The Abolition of Man

1. Bible Study: Read Romans 2:12–16; 6:8–14 and then reflect on the following questions.

Romans 2:12–16

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (NIV)

Romans 6:8–14

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (NIV)


  1. According to Paul in Romans 2, how do the “Gentiles,” the non-Jewish people who didn’t grow up with the law of Moses, demonstrate that they still are aware of moral laws?
  2. In what ways do you see that people in our world today have a conscience, knowing that some things are morally wrong, and some things are morally right?
  3. According to Paul in Romans 6, what were some of the results of Christ’s death and resurrection?
  4. Describe how the Christian can count him- or herself as “dead to sin but alive in Christ Jesus”?
  5. Why is the Christian no longer under the law, but under grace? What does this mean?

2. Read The Abolition of Man, Appendix: “Illustrations of the Tao.”

  1. How does the “Appendix: Illustrations of the Tao” support Lewis’s argument that truth is absolute and is not relative?
  2. How many cultures does Lewis draw upon in the Appendix to come up with his list of moral laws?
  3. Can you think of any other examples of moral laws being repeated in various cultures that further support Lewis’s thesis? If so, name the cultures and the examples of their laws.

3. Read the poem “Evolutionary Hymn” by C.S. Lewis.

Lead us, Evolution, lead us 
Up the future’s endless stair; 
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us. 
For stagnation is despair: 
Groping, guessing, yet progressing, 
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow, 
In the present what are they
while there’s always jam-tomorrow, 
While we tread the onward way? 
Never knowing where we’re going, 
We can never go astray. 

To whatever variation 
Our posterity may turn 
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean, 
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern, 
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless, 
Towards that unknown god we yearn. 

Ask not if it’s god or devil, 
Brethren, lest your words imply 
Static norms of good and evil 
(As in Plato) throned on high; 
Such scholastic, inelastic, 
Abstract yardsticks we deny. 

Far too long have sages vainly 
Glossed great Nature’s simple text; 
He who runs can read it plainly, 
‘Goodness = what comes next.’ 
By evolving, Life is solving 
All the questions we perplexed. 

Oh then! Value means survival 
Value. If our progeny 
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival, 
That will prove its deity 
(Far from pleasant, by our present, 
Standards, though it may well be).

The poem was originally written by C.S. Lewis in a letter to Dorothy Sayers  dated March 4, 1954. Interestingly, the poem can be sung to the tune of  “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” 


  1. In what ways does Lewis’s poem bring out the arguments that he made in his book, The Abolition of Man?
  2. Is there a line in the poem that especially strikes you or brings home one of Lewis’s main points from his book The Abolition of Man?
  3. How do the arts (poetry, music, theater, dance, visual arts) help support some of the ideas expressed in The Abolition of Man?

4. Watch Video: Illustration of the Tao and a Message of Hope

5. Make It Personal:

  • Reflect upon the readings, lectures, and questions addressed in this study of Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. Make a list of three primary insights that you’ve gained.
  • In what ways will you share what you’ve learned in this study with others?
  • Read the following article and consider how it might be helpful for you, and/or for people you know:

The Invitation C.S. Lewis Accepted—And One You, Too, Can Accept by Randy Newman

I’ve read enough of C.S. Lewis’s delightful writings to know that he’d be amazed that anyone would be interested in his life and writings and that there would even be websites like this one named after him. He suspected that he and all his work would be forgotten within five years of his death. He could not have been more wrong.

But once he got past the shock of organizations, books, and websites with the name C.S. Lewis, he would express deep concern and exhort people to look past him and consider seriously the person, teaching, and work of Jesus. He would be appalled if people settled for Mere C.S. Lewis instead of Mere Christianity.

If you’ve heard the story of Lewis’s life, you know that the gospel of Jesus Christ dramatically changed him. Lewis would want you to experience that same kind of transformation and connect with a local church that believed the Bible as he did.

Lewis regularly called people to make a decision for Christ before it’s too late. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,

It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.

Would you like to make a decision to follow Jesus? He would be overjoyed if you did. In fact, you can talk to Him right now through prayer. The Scriptures tell us that if we repent of our sins (are truly sorry for our sin and desire to change) and truly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, that you can be forgiven and begin a new journey as a disciple of Jesus. As you consider this life-changing (eternity-changing!) decision, reflect on these words that Lewis wrote at the very end of his classic book Mere Christianity.

…there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away ‘blindly’ so to speak . . . The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes everyday and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

A Prayer to Follow Jesus

“Dear God,
I confess that I am a sinner. I know that my sin deserves the punishment of death.
I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for my sins,
was buried, and rose again from the dead. I want to turn from my sins and trust
Jesus Christ alone as my Savior. Thank You for the forgiveness of my sins and
the gift of eternal life that I can now receive through faith in Jesus’s name.

If you have made a decision to give yourself to Jesus or if you would like to ask more questions about what it means to be a follower of Christ, we here at the C.S. Lewis Institute would be happy to talk with you.

You may contact us at [email protected]

Get Your Certificate

Now that you’ve completed The Abolition of Man Study Course, please take our short survey and you’ll receive your Certificate of Participation from the C.S. Lewis Institute.

<< CONTENTS  GUIDE   INTRO   1    2   3    >>

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.


Print your tickets