A Certain Type of Bad Man

From “The Cardinal Virtues”:

One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he can’t give up a thing himself without making every one else give it up. That isn’t the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons–marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.


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2 Responses to A Certain Type of Bad Man

  1. Chrisanne says:

    This is a bit confusing to me. Not that one should look down his or her nose at anything, or place definitive value on an object or action, but this seems to imply that (for example) urging a fellow Christian not to continue doing a behavior that clearly conflicts with Biblical teachings is improper. Can you please let me know where this excerpt comes from? I’d like to look at it. Thanks!

    • Great comment, Chrisanne! I posted this thinking (hoping?) someone would ask about it, because it opens up an important question. Lewis isn’t saying that confronting a brother/sister in sin necessarily stems from “looking down one’s nose.” In fact I think he would agree that Christians must lovingly exhort fellow believers when their lives clearly conflict with Scripture. His point here is when we elevate our applications of the Scripture to the same authoritative level as the Scripture itself, we are in danger of spiritual pride. This is a very, very difficult matter, because it is really hard for me to differentiate the Scripture itself from my applications. (I spent an hour with a friend talking about this very point yesterday.) Nonetheless I am bound by that same Scripture (e.g., Rom 14.1-15.7) to recognize that my applications will at times differ from others’.

      The quotation is from Book III, Chapter 2, “The ‘Cardinal’ Virtues.” In my edition you’ll find it on page 76. Book III was published earlier as a separate work entitled Christian Behaviour, so you might find it there as well.

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