Mere Christianity – Book IV – Chapter 5 (“The Obstinate Toy Soldiers”)

Book-4

Picking back up my notes for C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”…

1. If man had not rebelled against God, he may have been naturally drawn up into the Zoe

“We do not know… how things would have worked if the human race had never rebelled against God and joined the enemy. Perhaps every man would have been ‘in Christ,’ would have shared the life of the Son of God, from the moment he was born. Perhaps the Bios or natural life would have been drawn up into the Zoe, the uncreated life, at once and as a matter of course. But that is guesswork”

2. However, man did rebel and this sets Bios against Zoe

“And the present state of things is this. The two kinds of life are now not only different (they would always have been that) but actually opposed. The natural life in each of us is something self-centred, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe. And especially it wants to be left to itself: to keep well away from anything better or stronger or higher than it, anything that might make it feel small. It is afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world, just as people who have been brought up to be dirty are afraid of a bath. And in a sense it is quite right It knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that”

3. Being drawn up into the Zoe is like a tin soldier coming to life

“Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it”

4. In order to raise man into the Divine Life, God became man

“The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man… The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that)… a foetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab”

(a) This was the first man as he was intended to be

“Thus in one instance humanity had, so to speak, arrived: had passed into the life of Christ”

(b) He suffered and died

“And because the whole difficulty for us is that the natural life has to be, in a sense, ‘killed,’ He chose an earthly career which involved the killing of His human desires at every turn – poverty, misunderstanding from His own family, betrayal by one of His intimate friends, being jeered at and manhandled by the Police, and execution by torture”

(c) Not just God, but man rose again

“…after being thus killed-killed every day in a sense-the human creature in Him, because it was united to the divine Son, came to life again. The Man in Christ rose again: not only the God. That is the whole point For the first time we saw a real man. One tin soldier-real tin, just like the rest-had come fully and splendidly alive”

5. Toy soldiers would be independent of each other. However, …

“In the case of real toy soldiers or statues, if one came to life, it would obviously make no difference to the rest. They are all separate.

(a) Human beings are connected to each other…

But human beings are not. They look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then, we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well: and when they were part of his grandparents. If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it would not look like a lot of separate things dotted about. It would look like one single growing thing- rather like a very complicated tree.

(b) …and to God

Every individual would appear connected with every other. And not only that. Individuals are not really separate from God any more than from one another. Every man, woman, and child all over the world is feeling and breathing at this moment only because God, so to speak, is “keeping him going.”

6. Christ’s life therefore starts spreading through humanity

“It is as if something which is always affecting the whole human mass begins, at one point, to affect that whole human mass in a new way. From that point the effect spreads through all mankind. It makes a difference to people who lived before Christ as well as to people who lived after Him. It makes a difference to people who have never heard of Him. It is like dropping into a glass of water one drop of something which gives a new taste or a new colour to the whole lot”

(a) Christ has done the saving, it just needs to be appropriated

“…the business of becoming a son of God, of being turned from a created thing into a begotten thing, of passing over from the temporary biological life into timeless ‘spiritual’ life, has been done for us. Humanity is already ‘saved’ in principle. We individuals have to appropriate that salvation. But the really tough work-the bit we could not have done for ourselves-has been done for us.

(b) We just have to open ourselves

We have not got to try to climb up into spiritual life by our own efforts; it has already come down into the human race. If we will only lay ourselves open to the one Man in whom it was fully present, and who, in spite of being God, is also a real man, He will do it in us and for us…. if we get close to Him we shall catch [“the good infection”] from Him.

What are your thoughts about this article?