Believability, Between Heaven and Hell


by Gary     I’m reading a book right now that Jordan Cory recommended to me. It’s by Peter Kreeft, who is a Professor of Psychology at Boston College and a well-written Christian apologist. The book is titled Between Heaven and Hell. It’s a supposed conversation between C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley that occurs somewhere beyond death. You may already know that these three famous men all passed from this life into eternity on the same day: November 22, 1963. JFK, as you well know, was assassinated. Lewis suffered and died from renal failure and heart problems. Huxley seems to be the one who chose the day of his death when he asked his wife to give him a dose of LSD as he lay dying from cancer.

In the book, Kreeft imagines that the three of them meet somewhere beyond this life and he writes a script of what their conversation might entail. It’s a very interesting bit of conjecturing on the part of Kreeft. It’s an easy assumption that the dialogue between Lewis, Kennedy and Huxley would be about God and eternity since they are obviously absent from earth and life. But Kreeft doesn’t place them in the presence of God, which demands their attention to be turned to the existence and nature of God and Heaven. It’s a lively, passionate, engaging debate among the men as Kreeft juxtaposes many of their earthly beliefs.

C.S. Lewis, who was an Anglican, is portrayed as the Theist and apologist of the group, which is very accurate based on his life. Kennedy, as a modern Catholic, is portrayed as a humanist, which is also fairly accurate to who he was. Huxley is portrayed as a pantheist, which may be the the furthest stretch but is still a fair representation of the man though he is known for his humanist beliefs also. So the debate begins as the three men take their stances and make their arguments. It’s a good read and I think most of you would enjoy it. I won’t bore you here with my pathetic attempts to paraphrase all the important points of the book. I just want to talk about one.

Lewis says to Kennedy that there are certain categories of people. He says that one great dividing line is between those great teachers and thinkers considered to be Sages and the rest of humanity. Kennedy asks Lewis to name a few Sages. Lewis does so: Jesus, Buddah, Mohammad, Socrates, Moses, Confucius, etc. After they agree upon the Sages, Lewis goes on to divide the Sages into two categories: those who claimed to be God and those who didn’t claim to be God. Jesus was the only Sage who claimed to be God but I want to focus on how Lewis and Kennedy defined Sages.

Lewis argued that a Sage is a person who is considered to say wise truths about life and who has the ears of people. It can’t be only one of those two things. It must be someone who is speaking and who is being listened to. So Kennedy asks how Sages become people whose truths are accepted. Lewis says it’s because the Sage himself has lived a believable life and then earns the right to be believed about what he presents as truth. In other words, Jesus’ followers believed His truths because they believed in Him. If they hadn’t believed in who Jesus was as a person, then they wouldn’t have believed the truths He spoke.

This is where we jump from the book to life. Lewis is right. No one will ever believe anything we say until they believe in us. So I want to stop for a life check. I’ve been thinking all week on whether my life is believable. I’m not so much considering if I’m believable to people at church on Sunday mornings who assume I’m believable because I’m sitting with them in worship. But I’m considering whether my life is believable the rest of the week and to the rest of the people.

Is it believable based on the words that come out of my mouth? Is it believable based on the attitude I have about people or about life? Is it believable based on how I treat my wife or children? Is it believable based on how I invest in the less fortunate of my community? Is it believable based on how I act with my friends on a Friday night when no one else is looking? Is it believable based on how I’m willing to lay aside my pride and emotions to serve people for the sake of serving? Is it believable based on my perseverance and loyalty towards the people and the causes that inhabit my life? Is my life believable?

If not, isn’t it time for us to do something different? To change our words, attitudes, emotions, actions, involvements, situations and friendships? I’m growing weary of not being believable in every aspect of my life. I’m not saying you or I can be perfect. We can’t. But I also don’t want who I really am to lurk just out of view. We can grow to be more believable and take comfort in the knowledge that believability is what causes others to listen to us. This is of the utmost importance because there are some very important things that people need to hear and that we need the credibility to say.

My friend, Katie the Canadian, once told me that I make Jesus believable. That was probably the best compliment of my life. But she’s the only one that’s ever said that to me. I hope others have thought it on occasion but I dont’ want to live for occasions. I have an unsettled, urgent feeling inside me that’s pushing me towards being constantly believable.

How are you doing on this? Any thoughts or reactions?

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