Thursday, August 6, 2015

Miracles by C.S. Lewis - Book Review

The Book

Miracles
C. S. Lewis

Intro

As part of my ongoing quest to read every word penned by C. S. Lewis, I recently picked up Miracles. It's part of the boxed set I purchased with birthday money/gift card. Here's the obligatory run down:

A few observations:

  1. Buy this boxed set for someone. It will entertain their brains for years to come. (This boxed set & I go way back to 2012)
  2. For being such a Lewis Lover, I only read one of his books per year. That deflates my ego.
  3. There's something about late summer (July-August) that gives me a hankering for some C. S. Lewis. Anybody else get that?
  4. Mere Christianity & The Screwtape Letters are the only two left in the set. I read & reviewed MC before getting the set (in April!) & I've read TSL a few years ago. TSL deserves it's own review. Hey, the month of August is young!

Review

I have decided to do away with the technical merit section of this particular review. Lewis gets excellent marks for his structure & organization as always. It is important to note that while Miracles is in many ways comparable to Mere Christianity in it's approach, it is actually much more technical, theoretical & abstract than MC. However, there are moments where Lewis' arguments rise from the drudgery of theorem & snaps into sharp focus. Those moments are pure gold.

Naturalism - Is it anti-miracle?

Lewis spends most of his time on this subject. In fact, the title of this book could have been "Nature Versus Supernature" though that title is not very interesting. Lewis deconstructs Naturalism (the idea that Nature is all there is) and leaves the reader with the conclusion that something beyond nature must exist. One poignant argument revolves around the so-called Laws of Nature & the fact that Laws of Nature do nothing without being first thrown into action by a force outside of itself. For instance, nobody ever says they tripped on gravity. People trip on an untied shoelace which causes their body to be in a position where the Law of Gravity takes over. Hence, every Law of Nature must be set in motion by a preceding cause going back to an Original Cause that had to set Nature herself in motion. Christians believe that God is this Uncaused Cause.

Having established that there must be an entity behind Nature—our Supernatural God—Lewis asks about the nature of the miraculous. Many assume the miraculous to be a violation of the Laws of Nature. Lewis argues that this is a wrong perception. If there is a God. If that God can perform the miraculous. If that God created Nature. Why would we suppose miracles to be a violation of nature?
If events ever come from beyond Nature altogether, she will be no more incommoded by them. Be sure she will rush to the point where she is invaded, as the defensive forces rush to a cut in our finger, and there hasten to accommodate the newcomer. The moment it enters her realm it obeys all her laws... The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern.
Hence, the moment Jesus multiplies bread, it becomes regular digestible bread. When he creates wine in Cana, it becomes real wine with intoxicating properties. When God's Seed is implanted in Mary's womb, it undergoes the process of gestation, birth, childhood, etc. No Law is suspended. A new event is fed into Nature & Nature rolls with it without a hitch.

Lewis also gets into a discussion on literalism in this book. He detests the idea of people who try to improve on the ancient pictures with something they believe to be more literal. So instead of viewing God as Father, they try to describe Him as Energy. Clearly, the Bible uses specific imagery to get at certain aspects of the divine which our modern imagery does not. Further, when we try to be more precise, we end up creating a ridiculous picture that's harder to believe than the ancient metaphor.

C. S. Lewis does eventually start talking about the Miracles themselves. He tackles the question of the Grand Miracle (The Resurrection) & it's implications for Christians. He argues that the Resurrection is not a new life, but a continuation of the current life only glorified. He argues that this Grand Miracle is the pinnacle of history. Other miracles performed by Jesus affirm his identity as the ultimate Corn King (myth of death and rebirth) which has been rumored since ancient times.

Conclusion

If you have read Mere Christianity a couple times, I urge you to pick up Miracles & give it a shot. I know that I have learned a lot from a single reading and am excited to pick it up again in the near future to see what else can be gleaned from it's pages. If you've never read C. S. Lewis before, this is not the one to start with. While you will doubtless learn a lot, it helps to have a background in MC to understand where Lewis is coming from.

TIP: As you read Miracles, look for lists. Lewis loves his lists and they're really helpful!

Check out a few of my favorite quotes from Miracles. If you need to, you can pause the show on the lower right-hand corner to actually, you know, read them. :)
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Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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