Here are Bo's thoughts on Mere Christianity's final book. Stay tuned for the ways Discipleship might continue to do Book Club-like things this fall and spring. We hope this has been a good experience for you.
BOOK FOUR: BEYOND PERSONALITY: or FIRST STEPS IN THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
Since we are covering so much this week, I’m going to do my best to condense what I have to say, but feel free to go crazy with whatever came to mind in the comments.
In this first section, the way Lewis talks about theology is a very Wesleyan school of thought (If you were wondering why Lewis—not a Methodist—and John Wesley—Methodist—think of certain things in similar ways, it is may be because of both of their experiences with the Anglican Church of England. Lewis, I would say, most probably read some John Wesley theology at some point, though.) Anyway, the way that Lewis cites how important it is to build one’s theology not only around personal experiences but also based on those that have come before you—all of the experiences of Christians from the past 2000 years and the Jews even before that. You may remember the Wesleyan quadrilateral from confirmation class. Lewis’ point is that you can’t have a surface level understanding of Christianity because that would not truly be Christianity. I like what Lewis goes on to say about how Jesus is begotten of God and not merely created, and I think he lays this idea out well.
He goes on to attempt to show what it means for God to be “Three-in-One” and says that this is a higher state of being than we can comprehend, we only know what it is like to be one person, just like we would only know a straight line if we lived in one dimension. Do you think this example works for you? The trinity is a hard concept to understand for sure. Lewis touches on prayer here and expands on the subject in the next section. Specifically, he addresses the issue of God being able to hear and answer all those prayers at once. Lewis says, “Almost certainly God is not in Time… If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn.” He then talks about this as it relates to free will and adds his disclaimer that this theology is not mentioned specifically in Scripture, and that being a Christian does not mean you have to believe this.
Lewis spends the next section discussing this point: “The Son exists because the Father exists: but there never was a time before the Father produced the Son.” He then takes about how we are not begotten by God, we are made, and therefore the purpose of Christianity is to become more like Christ (since we are not Him already, we are merely something made by God, not God.) He continues on this track of thinking in the next chapter, saying, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” He then presents us with the toy soldier analogy that I’m sure could get a C in a seminary class if you took that and presented Toy Story as a metaphor of God’s grace.
I’m interested to hear what everybody thinks of the (for lack of a better phrase) “fake-it-till-you-make-it” act that he talks about in Chapter 7. He also here touches on the idea of Prevenient Grace—that God is working through us and giving us grace before we actually even know him. Lewis goes even farther to say that this “Is the whole of Christianity.” He finds it essential that we “pretend” to be like Christ in order to actually become more like Him. Any thoughts on this? I think it is a very interesting claim that deserves some thought.
Does anyone have any thoughts on a connection to what Lewis says in chapter 10 to the idea of cheap grace inLife Together?
This last chapter, “the New Men,” is trying to illustrate the point of how we do actually change when Christ comes into our lives. Lewis says that this is the next stage in our evolution—to become like Christ. I like the way Lewis closes his final Book, and I am excited to hear everyone else’s thoughts on the book as a whole. I hope everyone enjoyed the book and more importantly, I hope it made everyone think critically about his or her faith and in turn made it stronger.