We now come to the final chapter of Book II! In this chapter, C.S. Lewis draws to a conclusion “What Christians believe”. In previous chapters, Jack has explained that we receive New Life from Christ. In this final chapter he looks at how it is communicated to us. He principally focuses on belief, Baptism and Holy Communion.
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Episode 12: “The Practical Conclusion” (Download)
— Show Notes —
• My outline for this chapter is available here. Once again, unfortunately there’s no Doodle 🙁
• Once again, Matt and I are drinking Ballast Point Bonito.
• The card game Matt taught me the day before was Euchre. It’s kinda weird…
• Lewis says that the next step in evolution has already happened with Christ. Matt referenced the podcast Intelligence Squared, where Yuval Noah Harari spoke about “Homo Deus“. In response to this, we quoted the Early Church Father, St. Athanasius, who said that “God became man so that man could become God”. This provocative phrase speaks of what is known as “Theosis”. Scripturally, this takes its foundation from 2 Peter 1:4 where we are told that “…He has granted to us his precious and very great promises…and become partakers of the divine nature”.
• How do we acquire this New Life? Lewis compares it to the Natural Life, which we acquired through a curious process that we might not have expected. So too, he says, it is with the New Life.
• Matt and I have brief conversation about my belief in The Stork and the statue which is on top of Sharp Mary Birch Hospital. I also commented that in England, in answer to the question “Where do babies come from?”, we often told that they are found underneath gooseberry bushes!
• Jack identifies the three main ways in which this Divine Life is passed on: belief, Baptism and Holy Communion. However, he doesn’t limit it to these channels. God’s grace can move in extraordinary ways. He also says that these aren’t substitutes for our attempts to copy Christ.
• On what basis do we believe that the Divine Life is transmitted like this? Simply put, on the authority of Jesus. Authority is not a scary word, it simply beens believing something because someone whom you think trustworthy has told you that it is true. Much of by beliefs about science and history are based almost entirely on authority.
• Matt and I take a short detour to discuss how Jesus passed on His authority to the Church.
• Lewis describes how this Divine Life should be protected, essentially addressing the doctrine of Once-Saved-Always-Saved. If you would like to see a really great debate on this subject, I’d recommend checking out the one between James White and Trent Horn.
Lewis isn’t suggesting a form of Pelagianism. He says that the Divine Life is a gift, but it must be protected. Even the best Christian who ever lived knows that he’s only nourishing a life that he could have never have won on his own merits.
I describe this idea in terms of mortal sin, which quenches the Divine Life within us (1 John 5:17). Lewis says that when a living body is hurt, it can to a degree repair itself. I suggest that this nicely maps to venial sin.
• God does not love us because we are good, God will make us good because He loves us!
• The New Life which comes from Christ is expressed through the whole Body of Christ. In a recent episode of The Restless Heart, I recorded a more personal episode where I spoke about this idea, how I met Christ in the death of my father.
• Some people might find the idea of God communicating His grace to us through physical means (such as Baptism and Holy Communication) rather crude, but as Jack points out, God likes matter – He invented it!
• The chapter closes by considering two objections.
1. Isn’t it unfair that the Divine Life is only given to those who have heard of Christ?
Lewis points out that we haven’t been told too much about God’s plan for those who have never heard the Gospel. He affirms that all who are saved will be saved through Jesus, but questions whether it’s only those who know Him who will be saved through Him. Matt and I briefly discuss the Catholic perspective on this topic.
Lewis concludes by saying that the best thing you can do for others is to become a Christian yourself and help transmit that Divine Life to others.
2. Why did God invade in this way? Why doesn’t He invade in force?
Lewis answers that Christians believe He will invade in force at the Second Coming, but that he is probably giving us a chance to join His side freely.