What Christians Believe

The third talk in What Christians Believe is entitled 'The Shocking Alternative'. First broadcast on 1 February 1942, it is probably this talk above all others which established Lewis's reputation as a Christian apologist of the first rank. No radio broadcast, before or since, has laid out so clearly the heart of the Christian gospel. Lewis manages to do this with language that js fresh and compelling. It is totally free of Christian jargon. He achieves that rare feat of explaining Christian truth in plain English that does not rely on any.of the imagery or in-house language that almost imperceptibly creeps into so much of Christian apologetics.

The talk begins with the point Lewis had reached in the first two programmes, that Christians believe 'an evil power has made himself Prince of the World'. This happened because 'God created things free to be bad as well as to be good'. It is free will that makes evil possible. The alternative, a world of automata, is unthinkable. God thought that allowing us to use our freedom in the wrong way was worth the risk. Free will means that when things turn out right, they will be all the better — enabling humankind to experience the happiness of being united with God and the ecstasy of love and delight. However, the worse it will be when things go awry. We want to put our 'self’ first - in other words, we want it to be God. This was the sin of Satan, taught by him to the human race. From this attempt to create happiness apart from God have come the hallmarks of human history: money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires and slavery. In this way Lewis describes the outcome of sin without using the word, making its meaning and consequence clear enough.

Justin Phillips
C.S. Lewis at the BBC
(HarperCollins 2002)

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