Men Without Chests

“…But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

-Isaiah 66:2b

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
- Colossians 3:12-13

Dear Friends,

In 1943 C.S. Lewis wrote a small book called, The Abolition of Man. It was meant to be a commentary on the educational climate in England in Lewis’s day, but it was far more a philosophical treatise on the nature of man. In a scant few pages Lewis zeroes in on the lack of charitableness or generosity in 1940’s English educational culture. He was concerned for an educational system that was perpetuating the inculcation of masses with information totally devoid of a ‘fertile and generous emotion’[1]. Lewis called them, ‘men without chests’. They would become men and women with intellectual capacity and drive, but no capacity for civility or magnanimity. In other words, they would become heads bereft of hearts. The thrust of Lewis’s concerns are not limited to early 20th century England. The danger of the Reformed faith is the creation of our own men without chests. These would be men of incredible intellectual prowess, biblical and theological understanding, the ability to wax eloquent about the minutest theological point, but wholly deficient of a ‘fertile and generous emotion’. This is religious phariseeism at its most offensive apex. The knowledge of the gospel and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, by their very nature, are meant to cultivate love, humility, grace, longsuffering, and a magnanimous spirit. Knowledge, by itself, puffs up and inflates, but a right understanding of gospel truth brings us low. God’s intention is that the Christian is to be known by a largeness of spirit, thereby reflecting the character of God Himself. The work of the Spirit in the truth of the gospel is intended to bring much fruit by making us become men with large minds and large chests and not one without the other.

May God enlarge us with both knowledge and love for Him and for one another.


[1] Dorsett, Lyle, ed., The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 437

(This blog was originally posted in January 2009)

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