Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 7
(Book 4 : Beyond Personality, The First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity, Chapters 1-3)
Chapter 1 of Book 4 is called Making and Begetting. Lewis starts off by defining theology as the Science of God and I think any man who wants to think about God at all, would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available.
Think of a man seeing the Atlantic Ocean from the beach and having an awe-inspiring experience. Then think of a map, just colored paper. However the map has been laid out by thousands of people’s experiences that make it authenticated. Now, looking at the Atlantic Ocean is one thing, but if you wanted to sail it, you would need the map. That’s what theology is, sating you’ve had these vague religious experiences, these emotional experiences is one thing, but if you want to go deeper, if you want to have a real experience with God, that what theology is. Because, it’s been laid out by thousands of people who have already trod the course and it’s our map of how to know God more deeply.
Popular theology would say Jesus is another great moral teacher and if we follow His teachings, the world sure would be a better place. However, (A) that’s a shallow view and (B) we never follow the great teachers. Or else there are lots of great teachers who could have come along and could’ve made the world a happier place. See, when you get into Christian theology, it says Jesus is the Son of God and we put our confidence in Him and we gain Sonship as well and that His death saved us from our sins. Becoming sons of God is more than just the general sense that God created us, loves us and takes care of us, which makes Him like a Father. It means before all time began, before anything was in existence as we know it, Christ was begotten, not made.
To beget is to become the Father of, to create is to make. The difference is this, when you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies. A beaver little beavers, etc. But, when you make, you make something of a different kind. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, etc. What God begets is God, what God creates is not God. Man has a shape or likeness to God, but man does not have the same kind of life as God. Every thing God has made has some likeness to himself.
Space is like God in its hugeness and greatness. The vegetable world is like him because it is a alive and He is a living God. But, it is only a kind of symbol or shadow of God. Man not only lives, but loves and reasons. Out of all creatures that we know of, we are the most like God; but what man in his natural condition has not got is spiritual life. The higher and different sort of life that exists in God.
The difference between biological life and spiritual life is so different. Biological life is Bios. Spiritual life is Zoe. The man who changed from having bios to Zoe would have gone through as big of a change as a stature carved in the shape of a man turning into a living, breathing man. This is precisely what Christianity is about. On Earth, we are just a great sculpture shop, but there is a rumor going around that one day these sculptures are going to come to life.
The Three Personal God is Chapter 2. There are many people who think of God as something more than personal. But, what they end up with an impersonal God. Christianity is the only religion on the market who looks as God as something Super-personal or more than personal.
God’s dimensions we find a being who is three person, while remaining one being. Just as a cube is six squares, while remaining one cube. Though we can’t firmly comprehend, we can get a faint notion of this. And when we do, we are getting a look at something Super personal, something more than personal. The important thing is not to be able to talk about it and explain it, because a way it’s unexplainable, but it is to be drawn into it.
When a Christian prays, he is trying to get in touch with God. But, if he is a Christian, he knows what is prompting him to pray is also God, God inside of him. But, he also know that all His real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the man who was God. That Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. God is the thing to which he is praying, the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside of him, pushing him on, the motive. God is also the road or bridge on which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole three-fold life of the personal being is actually going on in when an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being called up into the higher kind of life, Zoe, the spiritual life. He is being pulled into God but God, while still remaining himself. Theology is somewhat like experimental Science If you want to get to know a person, that other person must let you get to know him. If he doesn’t want to, you can’t get to know him. It takes equal initiative to becomes friend. When it comes to knowing God the initiative lies on His side. If He doesn’t show Himself, nothing will enable you to find Him. And in fact He shows much more of himself to some people than to others. Not because He has favorites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. The instrument through which you see God is his whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright a glimpse of himself will be blurred like a moon seen through a dirty telescope.
We need a community of believers to see who God really is. God can show himself as He really is only to real people. Not just individually good, but people who are united together in a body loving one another, helping one another, showing Him to one another. For that is what God meant humanity to be like; like players in one band or organs in one body. The one adequate instrument for learning about God is the whole Christian community. Christian brotherhood, is so to speak, the technical equipment for this science.
Now if we were making up our own religion, Christianity could be simpler. Anyone could make a simpler religion if they have no facts to deal with, but Christianity is based on facts.
Chapter 3, Time Beyond Time.
Often people have difficulty with God attending to several hundred million people at once as they pray. All in that one moment. The difficulty is of time and the thought of God being able to do all of that at once. However, almost certainly God is not in time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at 10:30 tonight, He need not listen to all of them at that one little snit bit that we call 10:30. 10:30, and every other moment since the beginning of the world, is also the present to Him. Suppose I am writing a novel and write, “Mary laid down her work and the next moment a knock came at the door.” For Mary, who has to live in the imaginary time of my story, there is no interval between putting down the work and hearing that knock. But I who am Mary’s maker do not live in that imaginary time at all. Between writing the first half of that sentence and the second half I can sit down for three hours and think steadily about Mary. I can think about Mary as if she were the only character in the book for as long as I please. And the hours I spend doing so would not appear in Mary’s story, the time inside the story at all.
God is not hurried along by the time in this universe any more than an author is hurried along by the time in his own novel. He has infinite attention to spare fore each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. Just as when Christ died for you, He died for you individually as if you were the only man in the world.
God does not live in a time series at all. For Him, it is so to speak, 1950 still and already 2050 as well. For His life is in Himself. If you picture life as a straight line along which you must travel, you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn. To come to the parts of the line one by one we have to go from A to B to C, but God from above contains the whole line and sees it all.
Carry this thought of all time happening at once over to Jesus coming to Earth. It is really I suggest a timeless truth about God, that human nature and the human experience of weakness and sleep and ignorance are somehow included into His whole divine life. This human life in God, is from our point of view a particular period in the history of our world, from the year AD 1 to the crucifixion. We therefore imagine it is also a period in the history of God’s own, but God has not history. He is too completely and utterly real to have one. Because to have a history means losing part of reality, because it has already slipped away into the past. And not yet having another part, because it is still in the future. In fact, having nothing but the tiny little present which is gone before you can speak of it. God forbid we should think God is like that.
Now, carry this over into the free will argument. If God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to say we had the freewill not to do them. But, if God is outside and above the timeline, in that case what we call tomorrow is visible to Him, in the same way as what we call today. All the days are now for him. He does not remember seeing you do things yesterday, he simply sees you doing them. It is though you have lost yesterday, He has not.
He does not foresee you doing things tomorrow, he simply sees you doing them. For although tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. In a sense, He does not see your action until you have done it, but then the moment in which you have done it is already now for him.It is a great Christian idea, but not Biblical and you can be a perfectly good Christian without accepting it.