Thursday, August 28, 2008


I contend that in all these miracles alike the incarnate God does suddenly and locally something that God has done or will do in general. Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed, across the whole canvas of Nature.

They focus at a particular point either God’s actual, or His future, operations on the universe. When they reproduce operations we have already seen on the large scale they are miracles of the Old Creation; when they focus those which are still to come they are miracles of the New. Not one of them is isolated or anomalous; each carries the signature of the God whom we know through conscience and from Nature. Their authenticity is attested by the style.

Before going any further I should say that I do not propose to raise the question, which has before now been asked, whether Christ was able to do these things only because He was God or also because He was perfect man; for it is a possible view that if Man had never fallen all men would have been able to do the like. It is one of the glories of Christianity that we can say of this question, “It doesn’t matter.”

Whatever may have been the powers of unfallen man, it appears that those of redeemed Man will be almost unlimited. Christ, re-ascending from His great dive, is bringing up Human Nature with Him. Where He goes, it goes too. It will be made “like Him.” If in His miracles He is not acting as the Old Man might have done before his Fall, then He is acting as the New Man, every new man, will do after his redemption. When humanity, borne on His shoulders, passes with Him up from the cold dark water into the green warm water and out at last into the sunlight and the air, it also will be bright and coloured.

Another way of expressing the real character of the Miracles would be to say that though isolated from other actions, they are not isolated in either of the two way were are apt to suppose. They are not, on the one hand, isolated from other Divine acts: they do close and small and, is it were, in focus what God at other times does so large that men do not attend to it. Neither are they asolated exactly as we suppose from other human acts: they anticipate powers which all men will have when they also are “sons” of God and enter into that “glorious liberty.” Christ’s isolation is not that of a prodigy but of a pioneer. He is the first of his kind; He will not be the last…

The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the “first fruits,” the “pioneer of life.” He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.

I do not mean, of course, that the writers of the New Testament disbelieved in “survival.” On the contrary they believed in it so readily that Jesus on more than one occasion had to assure them that He was not a ghost. From the earliest times the Jews, like many other nations, had believed that man possessed a “soul” or Nephesh separable from the body, which went at death into the shadowy world called Sheol: a land of forgetfulness and imbecility where none called upon Jehovah any more, a land half unreal and melancholy like the Hades of the Greeks or the Niflheim of the Norsemen. From it shades could return and appear to the living, as Samuel’s shade had done at the command of the Witch of Endor.

In much more recent times there had arisen a more cheerful belief that the righteous passed at death to “heaven.”
Both doctrines are doctrines of “the immortality of the soul” as a Greek or a modern Englishman understands it: and both writers look upon this event as an absolute novelty. Quite clearly they do not think they have been haunted by a ghost from Sheol, nor even that they have had a vision of a “soul” in “heaven.” It must be clearly understood that if the Psychical Researchers succeeded in proving “survival” and showed that the Resurrection was an instance of it, they would not be supporting the Christian faith but refuting it.

If that were all that had happened the original “gospel” would have been untrue. What the apostles claimed to have seen did not corroborate, nor exclude, and had indeed nothing to do with, either the doctrine of “heaven” or... of Sheol.

--C.S. Lewis, Miracles, A Preliminary Study

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