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C.S. Lewis, the Miracle of Christmas, and the Path to Restoring Our National Culture

Posted on Saturday, December 23, 2023
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by Aaron Flanigan
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7 Comments

AMAC Exclusive – By Aaron Flanigan

A wood Christmas Holiday ornament depicting a nativity scene hangs from the Christmas tree with colorful green and yellow lights.

This Christmas, at a time when authentic Christian witness has become difficult to find in the national culture, many Americans in search of spiritual, moral, and theological guidance have found value in turning to the dominant religious figures of generations past. One of those figures is Christian writer C.S. Lewis, whose relatively unknown “Christmas Sermon for Pagans,” first published in a British magazine in 1946, has suddenly gained significant traction on social media this year thanks in part to meditative prayer apps like Hallow that have shared its wisdom.

Lewis, who is best known for his written works like The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters, is widely regarded as one of the greatest Christian apologists of the 20th century. His accessible writing style and reason-based approach to profound questions of faith and morality have brought countless hearts, minds, and souls to the Christian faith – a God-given talent on full display in “A Christmas Sermon for Pagans.”

In the opening paragraphs of the sermon, Lewis breaks down the differences between “pagans” (pre-Christian men) and post-Christian men. “To say that modern people who have drifted away from Christianity are Pagans is to suggest that a post-Christian man is the same as a pre-Christian man. And that is like thinking that a woman who lost her husband is the same sort of person as an unmarried girl: or that a street where the houses have been knocked down is the same as a field where no house has yet been built,” he writes.

Unlike post-Christian culture, Lewis continues, pagan culture was both “religious” and cognizant of objective moral standards of right and wrong. Despite pagans’ “muddled” understanding of this distinction, Lewis writes, pagans were well aware that “the distinction between pious and impious acts was something which existed independently of human opinions: something like the multiplication table which Man had not invented but had found to be true and which… he had better take notice of.”

The post-Christian view, on the other hand, claims that there is no objective source of right or wrong. Instead, Lewis observes, according to the post-Christians, “each race or class can invent its own code or ‘ideology’ just as it pleases” in which nature is reduced to a “machine” that “we can do what we like with.”

But Lewis is quick to call out the problems with the post-Christian approach. “If there is no real Wrong and Right, nothing good or bad in itself, none of these ideologies can be better or worse than another,” he notes. “For a better moral code can only mean one which comes nearer to some real or absolute code. One map of New York can be better than another only if there is a real New York for it to be truer to. If there is no objective standard, then our choice between one ideology and another becomes a matter of arbitrary taste.”

Lewis proceeds to frame this moral distinction around the events of World War II, which ended just a year prior to publication of the sermon. According to the post-Christian mindset, Lewis says, the “battle for democratic ideals against Nazi ideals has been a waste of time because the one is no better than the other. Nor can there ever be any real improvement or deterioration: if there is no real goal, you can’t get either nearer to it or farther from it. In fact, there is no real reason for doing anything at all.”

But this view of the world, he concludes, must ultimately be rejected. “If the modern post-Christian view is wrong—and every day I find it harder to think it right—then there are three kinds of people in the world.” The first kind, Lewis says, are the post-Christians, or those “who are sick and don’t know it.” The second kind, the pagans, are those “who are sick and know it.” And the third and final kind of person are those “who have found the cure”—or those who have seen God’s truth and are practicing the Christian faith.

Christianity, Lewis postulates, “adds a wonder of which Paganism had not distinctly heard—that the Mighty One has come down to help us, to remove our guilt, to reconcile us.” And it is this truth—the reality of God’s love for each of us—that serves as the foundation of our hope, the basis for our comfort, and the source of our Christmas joy.

“All over the world (even in Japan, even in Russia), men and women will meet on December 25th to do what is a very old-fashioned and, if you like, a very Pagan thing—to sing and feast because a God has been born,” Lewis writes. “You are uncertain whether it is more than a myth. Well, if it is, then our last hope is gone. But is the opposite explanation not worth trying? Who knows but that here, and here alone, lies your way back not only to Heaven but to Earth too, and to the great human family whose oldest hopes are confirmed by this story that does not die?”

In an increasingly post-Christian American culture plagued by a rejection of God’s existence and attempts everywhere to replace God and remake the human person in a progressive image, Lewis’s words are perhaps more relevant than ever—and we would do well to follow his advice.

As Christmas festivities become increasingly detached from God and the birth of Christ, Lewis’s timeless Christmas sermon offers a much-needed roadmap for anyone seeking to invoke the lasting joy of the miracle of Christmas. This Christmas season, in the spirit of C.S. Lewis, may we warmly embrace the true source of our joy and let it radiate for all to see.

Lewis’s “A Christmas Sermon for Pagans” can be read here.

Aaron Flanigan is the pen name of a writer in Washington, D.C.

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BillyBob
BillyBob
3 months ago

The people who birthed the US wanted to found a nation governed in an entirely new way. It would be a government beholden to its people – not a people beholden to the government – with only God as America’s autonomy. 
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams
John Adams made this statement in an October 13, 1789 speech. Without God and a majority population who believe in Him, the US won’t survive. Why do you think the Marxists who seek to destroy this country hate Christians and Jews? Wake up.

Steve Colin Zeigler
Steve Colin Zeigler
3 months ago

What a great thinker was CS Lewis. Right and wrong are what everything is all about. Jesus Christ and his teachings are where real joy and the ability to love life are found.

JERRY D.
JERRY D.
3 months ago

RELIGION SERVES NO PURPOSE IN A MODERN SOCIETY EXCEPT FOR STARTING WARS AND GIVING US PEDOPHILE PRIESTS AND NOTHING MORE….

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