C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity: Analysis and Application Part V

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 The latter section of What Christians Believe, C.S. Lewis expounds briefly on the different theories of the atonement. He does not wish to go in depth in any of the positions since this is not a theological treatise, but an introduction to the Christian faith. Lewis summarizes the purpose of Christ’s death by saying:

The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start.[1]

The reason human beings need a fresh start is because fallen humanity has been ruined from conception. Without a new start, man lives continually separated from God (Isaiah 59:2). Christ’s work brings the Sons of God into restoration.

 

Lewis does not allow his Anglican commitments to speak too high in this tome, however there is a brief section where he elaborates on the graces that Christians, within this fresh start must experience:

There are three things that spread the Christ life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names—Holy Communion, the Mass, and the Lord’s Supper.[2]

Baptism symbolizing new life or as the Nicene Creed states: “ The one baptism for the remission of sins,” the belief, which is authentic trust, and the Holy Eucharist, which nurtures and sustains us in a life that offers little true food. I believe Lewis would not add the foolish programs of our modern church to his list. They probably would have been despicable to him. For one thing, there certainly would not be a stage in the center of the church. There would be no such thing to indulge the flesh. The center would be for that most holy table where children and adults, who profess the Trinitarian God, would come and eat of His body and drink of his blood.

Allow me the liberty to speak of the sacrament of the bread and wine. Though Lewis did not expand on this section, he would not have disagreed with its importance. In fact, Lewis wrote:

God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.[3]

Dualism or Platonism, in any sense or form, is a ludicrous misapplication of the Christian faith. St. John says: “that which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of spirit is spirit.”[4] He is not referring to the platonic distinction of the earthly and the heavenly or Kant’s noumenal and phenomenal, rather he is stating that there are two births, one natural and one supernatural. New Christians as well as older Christians never are fully satisfied in their flesh. Their supernatural birth does not disconnect them from their natural birth. Indeed, they become a full birth. A physical birth apart from the spiritual is an incomplete birth. For this reason, God gives the spiritual body, physical representations, so that we may never forget that Christ himself was flesh of flesh as we are. So he offers himself so that we as spiritual beings may find security and new life as we feast at His table.

 

The complication of this sacrament arrives because no man understands the holy mysteries. In the Supper, Christ brings heaven and earth together, bread and wine, life and death, exaltation and incarnation.


[1] Mere Christianity, pg. 58.

[2] Ibid. 63.

[3] Ibid. 65.

[4] John 3:6.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
This entry was posted in Catholic, Word/Sacrament. Bookmark the permalink.

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