Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We're Supposed to be What?

I reached the last two sentences of this week’s chapter of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and I nearly choked:

“Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

I thought this was a chapter about the Trinity, and instead it looked like I walked into idolatry.

Retrace steps. Reread. Repeat several times.

Then I understood. I had to go back several pages, but I understood.

Earlier, Lewis has said that perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions is that, in Christianity, God is not a static thing, not even a person, “but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.”

If we “come to let God have his way, come to share in the life of Christ,” we become part of the drama, part of the dance. Like Christ, we are sons of god. We love the Father as Christ does, and the Holy Spirit arises in us.

That’s what Lewis meant about Christians becoming “little Christs.”

I understand what he meant, but it still doesn’t mean I understand the Trinity. I believe it to be true, but that “pulsating activity” and that kind of drama is like nothing I know or have known in my life. It’s puzzled wiser heads than mine, so I’m in good company.

But I read Lewis here, and I see what he says about “the dance,” and I understand him to be right.

Years ago, I read a series of rather extraordinary novels by the British novelist Charles Williams, a friend of C.S. Lewis and close enough to be considered one of the Inklings. The novels have rather fantastic titles, like War in Heaven, Many Dimensions, The Greater Trumps and Descent into Hell. The novels are rather fantastic stories, “fantastic” in the sense of “like fantasy” but something else. I can’t think of anyone today writing in a similar vein.

But they all capture something of this dance, this kind of drama about God that Lewis describes. And he would have been working on his radio broadcasts that became Mere Christianity at the time Williams (an editor with Oxford Press) was living in Oxford due to the bombing in London.

I think Williams would have understood this dance described by Lewis perfectly well.

Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter have been leading us in a discussion of Mere Christianity. Too see more posts on this chapter, “Good Infection,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact and Sarah at Living Between the Lines.


H. Gillham said...

I love the way you look at this text, but I have told you that a few times before...

to be part of the dance is to be part of the great ensemble --- and the Holy Spirit fills us with the music to know, feel, and teach the steps...

I love to think of it this way even though I'm not sure how you exactly mean it, much less Lewis.


Have a good day.

Unknown said...

Let's dance!

Oh and now, I have a few more books to read. Love finding new literature.

Kathy Robbins said...

I love C.S. Levis

Anonymous said...

the relationship is like a dance, except that it is when we dance together, that the music is made.

S. Etole said...

I like the imagery in your words.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading the Screwtape Letters this week, and he says something similar there. I need to read the chapter again. Lewis' work requires multiple readings for my poor little brain. :)