Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Lewis Smedes’s approach to Christian ethics is based on the doctrine that God is a triune God. First, God the Father shows his creatures what is right and what is good. Second, God the Son has shown these creatures a new ethic, a more excellent way of following the old one, which involves an unselfish love. Third, the Spirit of God opens our eyes and ears to see and hear the voices of the human situation, which requires a moral decision.

Smedes discusses the relation between believers and unbelievers by developing a bridge metaphor. Some Christians hold that the differences between believers and unbelievers are so great that no bridge can be built to allow these two groups of people to conduct meaningful conversations with each other. Smedes finds this view faulty, and he holds that believers and unbelievers have enough in common to cross over and learn from one another.

Smedes subscribes to the Calvinists’ worldview, which he describes as follows. First, God made the world good. Second, human beings brought evil into the world near the beginning of their arrival. Third, in the end God will come to make the world good again. Fourth, in the meantime, his creatures are to create some imperfect models of the good world that will one day come about. In addition, we are to live with hope. Hope is a blend of three psychological ingredients: a dream, a desire, and faith.