Saturday, November 17, 2007

Your Thoughts on Miracles

We have now finished our study of Lewis' book Miracles. For those who attended last night, please use the comment link below to tell us what impressed you or interested you most from our meeting. For you others who were not able to attend last night, but have attended previously, feel free to add your own words about the book as well. Thank you!

Image: The Annunciation, by Henry Ossawa Tanner.

1 comment:

j49nspmep02a said...

Lewis’ book Miracles is the most intellectually stimulating and challenging work of Lewis that I have read to date (and I have not yet read all of his work). The topic is one that must prod the interest of any thinking Christian, and Lewis takes the subject on, using the tools of philosophy, theology, and literary criticism. I don’t think he is altogether successful, all the time, but he makes sense more often than not, and his failures make possible his victories. The reason for this is that he is attempting to use logic to explain something that is essentially illogical, or at least defies or goes beyond pure logic. Here is where modern man gets rather impatient, and retreats behind the wall of naturalism. But Lewis, like a general, marshals his forces, probes the weaknesses of the enemy’s fortifications, retreating here, thrusting there, looking for his opportunities, using all the resources at his disposal.

Chapter 3 is in many ways the heart of the book, and in my opinion it draws up short of total success, but it has the effect of setting the groundwork for what follows. I don’t think that Lewis proves logically that thought itself is somehow beyond naturalism and therefore a miracle. (He may have proved that pure naturalism is self-contradictory, but I’m not sure.) To me, we know all this by intuition, or better, by faith. One cheers his effort, and even the unbeliever would have to admit that he is on to something significant. At the very least he argues the naturalistic position to a stalemate, and he is like the debater who has planted seeds, in the face of the opposing side’s objections.

These seeds bear fruit in chapters 15 and 16. He hits his stride in chapter 16 on the Miracles of the New Creation, which is a masterpiece of religious writing. Lewis contradicts convincingly the lurking modern idea among secular people and modern “spiritual” types of Christians that the spiritual is wholly otherworldly, or a kind of etherialism, often called negative theology. Lewis shows that the Risen Christ is more real than anything real we can conceive of, and yet wholly recognizable, ushering in a transformed world--in the words of the Prayer Book, a “world without end.” Again, strict logic is not always to his advantage, but here Lewis effectively uses poetic imagery, particularly when he speaks at the end of those stunning ”world-shaking horses,” expecting us “with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables.”

This is a book that repays a second reading. You really can’t fully understand chapter 15, on the Miracles of the Old Creation, until you have grasped chapter 16 on the New Creation. An interesting exercise would be to read the book backwards by chapter.