Luke 5: 20-25: And when he saw their faith, he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he said to the man who was paralyzed—"I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home." And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God.
Luke 7:48-50: And he said to her [a prostitute], "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Christ claimed to have always existed
John 8:56-58: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
John 17:1, 5: When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ". . . Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
Christ claimed that He is coming to judge the world at the end of time
John 5:19, 22-24, 27-30: So Jesus said to them, “. . . The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. . . . And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
Matthew 11:29: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
Matthew 21:5: "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass."
Here Lewis sets up what has come to be called "Lewis's Trilemma": that Christ was either the Son of God as He claimed, a madman, or "the Devil of Hell." He based this statement on what he had already said about Christ's self-descriptions (see Bookmark for page 51). In Lewis's opinion, "What this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips" (page 51).
Understandably, the "trilemma" has created controversy. Some say Christ never claimed to be the Son of God; however, various New Testament passages contradict that statement.
Lewis uses the same logic in chapter five of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Susan and Peter disbelieve Lucy's story about finding Narnia: "There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth" (The Chronicles of Narnia [New York: HarperCollins, 2001], page 131).
According to the Gospels, Christ predicted His own death and resurrection.
Matthew 16:21: From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Luke 18:31-33: And taking the twelve, he said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise."
John 10:17-18: "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."
John 12:32-33: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
As he makes clear later (page 59) Lewis is talking about the doctrine of the atonement of Christ--the act by which Christ reconciled sinful men to God, allowing humans to be "at one" with God.
There are various views regarding the atonement. Lewis avoids arguing about the specifics of it, but the most widely accepted Protestant view is that Christ's atonement was "vicarious."
"The word 'vicarious' means substitute. Therefore, Christ was a substitute for others in that he took their place and suffered their punishment. It was also a legal act whereby Christ fulfilled the law and lawfully paid the penalty of sin." (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry)
Bible passages that teach the substitutionary or vicarious atonement of Christ include the following.
Isaiah 53:1-6 (ESV): Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV): For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Peter 2:22-24 (ESV): He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Thank you for the compliment, Jack, but actually few of us nowadays have any clue who Jeans and Eddington were.
Sir James Hopwood Jeans (1877-1946) was an English physicist, astronomer and mathematician.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) was a British astrophysicist.
“Christ was killed for us”
Romans 5:8-11: But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
1 John 4:9-10: In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Cf. Romans 4:23-25
“His death has washed out our sins”
Romans 3:23-26: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Cf. Leviticus 17:11; Colossians 1:13-14; Hebrews 9:11-12; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:4-6.
“He disabled death itself.”
John 8:51: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
Hebrews 2:14: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.
Cf. 1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 1:19-26
"In Christian doctrine, the Fall of Man, or simply the Fall, refers to the transition of the first humans from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience to God. In Genesis chapter 2, Adam and Eve live at first with God in a paradise, but the serpent tempts them into eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God forbade. After doing so they become ashamed of their nakedness and God consequently expelled them from paradise. The Fall is not mentioned by name in the Bible, but the story of disobedience and expulsion is recounted in both Testaments" (Wikipedia, "Fall of Man").
In his address "Is Theology Poetry?" Lewis states, "The earliest stratum of the Old Testament contains many truths in a form which I take to be legendary, or even mythical" (The Weight of Glory). So I am not sure what his views were on the literal truth of the story of Adam and Eve. If one does away with Adam and Eve as literal people, however, the Fall of Man becomes problematic.
2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Lewis is glossing quickly over some pretty heavy theological concepts here. In general he is discussing what some groups would call the sacraments and others would refer to as ordinances. Belief (or faith), of course, is neither a sacrament nor an ordinance but is a foundational element of all Christian creeds. (Hebrews 11:6: "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.")
The term "sacrament" may be defined as "an outward sign combined with a prescribed form of words and regarded as conferring some specific grace upon those who receive it. The Protestant sacraments are baptism and the Lord's Supper. In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches they are baptism, penance, confirmation, the Eucharist, holy orders, matrimony, and the anointing of the sick (formerly extreme unction)" (Collins English Dictionary). However, some Protestant groups (e.g., Baptists) are uncomfortable with the term "sacrament" and prefer instead the word "ordinance."
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the sacraments as 'efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.' The catechism included in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer defines a sacrament as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.
"Some Protestant traditions avoid the word 'sacrament'. . . . Baptists . . . prefer instead the word 'ordinance', practices ordained by Christ to be permanently observed by the church." (wikipedia; emphasis added).
Some Christian groups consider baptism as necessary for salvation; some consider it a symbolic ritual that follows salvation. Modes of baptism vary among different denominations; it generally involves immersion, sprinkling, or pouring water on the individual. Some groups baptize infants; others baptize only those who have made a profession of faith in Christ.
Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord's Supper
Matthew 26:26-28 (King James Version): "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (See also Mark 14 and Luke 22.)
1 Corinthians 11:23-29 (King James Version): "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
As with baptism, various denominations practice Communion in differing ways. All use wine (some substitute nonalcoholic grape juice) and bread to represent Christ's blood and body.
"In later years, when Lewis showed Mere Christianity to four clergymen, of four different denominations, for their criticisms, he received hostile comments from two of the four. One of these two, inevitably, was his old pupil and sparring partner Alan Griffiths (by then a Roman Catholic monk, Dom Bede Griffiths), who claimed that Lewis undervalued the doctrine of the Atonement. Perhaps more fundamental than this was the criticism he received from a Methodist minister that the book does not really mention, let alone do justice to, the central Christian doctrine of Justification by Faith." (A. N. Wilson, C. S. Lewis: A Biography [New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990], 137)
The "defeat of the Armada" refers to England's defeat of the invading Spanish Armada in 1588. It "brought about English nationalism, securing Protestantism as England's state religion. In contrast, for Spain it was a humiliating defeat, nearly destroying the national treasury."
Again, Lewis is covering quickly a theological doctrine that is complex and controversial. Not all Christians would agree that "a Christian can lose the Christ-life which has been put into him." What we're talking about here is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, or eternal security.
Those who believe in eternal security believe "once saved, always saved." That is, once someone has truly accepted Christ personally as his Savior, he will go to heaven when he dies; nothing he does after that point (including falling into sin) puts his eternal state at risk. They base this belief on passages such as John 6:37-40, John 10:27-28, 1 John 2:19, and others.
Other Christians would teach that if a person sins willfully and unrepentantly after salvation, he can lose his salvation. (Those who believe in eternal security would counter that a person who calls himself a Christian but lives that kind of life casts doubt on whether he was actually saved in the first place.) People who believe you can lose your salvation base their belief on passages such as 1 Timothy 1:18-20, Hebrews 6:4-6, and Hebrews 10:26-27.
Obviously, Lewis was in the second of these groups. His position on this topic crops up again in The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and the last book of the Narnia series, The Last Battle (in which we learn that Susan, who had previously served Aslan, no longer believes in Narnia).
Other passages include . . .
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV): "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV): "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Colossians 1:27 (ESV): "To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
And the words of Christ in John 17:20-21 (ESV): "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
Various passages refer to the church as being the body of Christ.
Romans 12:3-8 (ESV): "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness."
1 Corinthians 12:12-30 (ESV): For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—andall were made to drink of one Spirit.
"For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts."
Here Lewis breezes past another highly controversial subject: inclusivism--the idea that people may be Christians and not know it.
Probably the prime example of this belief in Lewis's works is the character of Emeth in The Last Battle. Emeth ends up, to his surprise, being welcomed to Aslan's Country after his death in spite of the fact that he had been a servant of Tash (who represents the Antichrist) in life. Aslan (a Christ figure) explains, "I take to me the services which thou hast done to Tash. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him."
This idea is at best highly suspect, not being taught in Scripture. Would Lewis have believed that someone could be a Muslim or a Hindu or an atheist and not know it? Aslan's statement above at the very least implies that people are saved by their works, a fact which Lewis denies on page 63 of Mere Christianity: "But even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam--he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts." See also Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." See also the passages below.
John 14:6 (ESV): "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'"
John 10:14 (ESV), quoting Christ: "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me."
By mentioning Christ's "[landing] in force," Lewis is referring to the Second Coming, when Christ returns to earth to set up His kingdom. (The Second Coming of Christ is often confused with the Rapture of the Church, but eschatologically speaking they are two different events.) Passages referring to this even include the following:
Jude 14, 15 (ESV): "It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.'"
Revelation 1:7 (ESV):"Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen."
When Lewis says, "We do not know when," he is probably referencing Christ's statement made in Matthew 24:36 (and other places), "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."
Lewis is probably thinking of 2 Peter 3:10-12 (KJV).
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
2 Corinthians 6:2: "... behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
Matthew 5:48 (KJV):"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
2 Corinthians 13:11 (KJV): "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
Calcutta (now Kolkata) is located in eastern India. It is the capital of West Bengal.
For information on New York, see Bookmark for page 13.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV): "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."