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Questions and Answers From Children About God

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Theodore: Hello, Ingrid! It’s nice to see you. I haven’t seen you at church lately.

Ingrid: No, I stopped going about a month ago.

Theo: Anything wrong?

Ingrid: No—yes—oh, no, certainly not! I’m glad I’ve stopped going, because I don’t believe in all that they preach there anymore.

Theo: Do you mind if I ask you why?

Dawn Treader-Rules and RegulationsIngrid: I don’t want to become a hypocrite, Theodore. And I think that is what most people in the church are. They talk about love all the time, which is what drew me into checking it out in the first place, but they don’t really mean it. The more you get to know about them, the more you realize how judgmental they all are!

Theo: What makes you think love and judgment are completely opposite terms?

Ingrid: Theodore! You wouldn’t argue that being judgmental is the same as being loving?

Theo: No, I wouldn’t. Being judgmental is rooted in what C.S. Lewis called “The Great Sin” of pride. It’s a desire to prove our own views “better” than those of others, just to make ourselves seem greater and belittle them. But I’m not sure that what you are objecting to in the church is actually a bad kind of judgment.

Ingrid: Is there more than one kind, Theodore? How can people who say that one way of living is better than another way be anything other than what you have just defined as judgmental? I don’t like people who consider my behavior to be worse than what they think it ought to be, no matter what their reason is. I want genuinely accepting love in my life, thank you, and I intend to find it for myself, now.

Theo: If you can, Ingrid. I would argue that a genuine love always includes judgment, even in human relationships.

Ingrid: Well, really! Isn’t the whole point of love that we don’t care what the other person does, but just love them anyway?

Theo: Quite the contrary. C.S. Lewis’ response to that idea was this: “we . . . then first begin to care”. Love, real love, always wants the very best for the other person. It doesn’t necessarily want or condone all the things the other person does or desires, if they are not the best. “Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal”.

dawn-treader-1.1-heightParents who love their children always discipline them, because they want them to grow up to be useful, sensible, good people rather than lazy and selfish, since such people end up happier and more successful in the end. We may not know at the time why we will be better off doing things God’s way rather than our own way, but we can rest assured that it will be so, for His love and justice are the same. If He says something is right to do, and that there will be serious consequences to doing it differently, it is because He loves us too much to let us do anything less than what will ensure our eternal happiness. “You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself . . . The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less”. And He expects His followers to help in this work, which is why we are supposed to let people know when the things they do are hurting them or others, keeping them back from the best God intends for them. The Bible commands us to “admonish one another” (Romans 15:14, Colossians 3:16); not in order to make ourselves look better, but in order to help one another to become closer to God. And what could be a greater act of love than that?

Ingrid: But why should God make our obedience to a certain set of rules a condition of His love for us? Why do you think that only the one way, the way Christians believe, will result in happiness? Why can’t God make us happy no matter what we do, if He loves us so much?

Theo: Because the only genuine happiness available is His kind of happiness. Asking God to show us His love without making us into the only kind of people who can really understand and appreciate His love is like asking to be given water while still remaining thirsty—it’s asking Him to love us without loving us, which is a contradiction in terms.

Ingrid: I guess that makes sense, but what I’m really complaining about here is not about God’s Own love, but that shown by His followers. So often the people I meet at church don’t seem to be any nicer than those I meet in other places, so it annoys me when they act like they have something better than the rest of the world.

Theo: But we do have something better. That doesn’t make us better. On the contrary, I would say that the great gift of salvation given to followers of Christ lays us open to stricter judgment when we do not try to be nicer than those who do not follow Him. “To whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). But that doesn’t mean that Christ’s followers do not know about the greatest good there is, and are not in duty—and in love!—bound to tell everybody else in the world about the chance they have to find that goodness, even if they don’t always live it out themselves as they should.

Ingrid: But if it really is true that God’s justice, following His rules, is the way to fully enjoy and experience His love, why don’t all the people who know about it do it?

Theo: They may be. We can’t always know right away whether someone’s life has been changed by Christ, from just looking at outward appearances. “Christian Miss Bates may have an unkinder tongue than unbelieving Dick Firkin. That, by itself, does not tell us whether Christianity works. The question is what Miss Bates’ tongue would be like if she were not a Christian and what Dick’s would be like if he became one… before Christ has finished with Miss Bates, she is going to be very ‘nice’ indeed… in God’s eyes Dick Firkin needs ‘saving’ every bit as much as Miss Bates… That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it… All sorts of nice things that we thought our own… will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things… will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises”. You see, Ingrid, that it really is possible, indeed necessary, to “hate sin and love the sinner” at the same time, to show both justice and love. We can always know and tell people if what they do is something against God’s goodness and in danger of judgment; that is a loving thing to do. But we cannot be judgmental and act as though the wrong actions that people do are necessarily a deliberate attempt to go against God’s’ love; all people are sinners and have different temptations to fight against, even after
they become His.

Ingrid: And maybe some of those people in church that I thought were judgmental are just those who have to fight particularly hard against that temptation!

Ask Your Children

What do you think about Theo’s answers to Ingrid’s questions? Do you have any other questions of your own that this dialogue has brought up for you? Challenge them to think up more responses they could give, if someone asked them a question like Ingrid’s.


1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 50th Anniversary ed. (London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002), p. 121
2 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 50th Anniversary ed. (London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002), p. 121), p. 38
3 C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, HarperCollins ed. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2001), p. 39
4 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 50th Anniversary ed. (London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002), pp. 205-206
5 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 50th Anniversary ed. (London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002), pp. 210-211, 91-92

C.S. Lewis Institute

C.S. Lewis Institute, In the legacy of C. S. Lewis, we develop wholehearted disciples of Jesus Christ who will articulate, defend, share, and live their faith in personal and public life.


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