“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Saturday, November 1, 2008

C. S. Lewis on Death and Rebirth: Explosive Redemptive Effects

...Working outwards from this climactic “turn” and beginning of redemption with Christ and then with humanity, death and rebirth has an ever-growing and expanding effect, ultimately reaching all of creation (cf. Colossians 1:20). It is this “doctrine of a universal redemption spreading outwards from the redemption of Man” that Lewis describes in Miracles:

“[O]ur species, rising after its long descent, will drag all nature up with it because in our species the Lord of Nature is now included. And it would be all of a piece with what we already know if ninety and nine righteous races inhabiting distant planets that circle distant suns, and needing no redemption on their own accord, were remade and glorified by the glory which had descended into our race.” (Miracles 411)
The description of “distant planets” calls to mind Lewis’ Ransom trilogy. In Perelandra, the effects of the cross expand into another world – it is only because Maleldil became a man in the first place that Venus could be saved. Through Ransom’s sacrifice, Venus is raised to a yet higher level of glory (Lewis, Perelandra 197). A somewhat similar pattern can be observed in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In the wake of Aslan’s coming to Narnia, an entire frozen world is melted into spring. Renewal and rebirth on a large scale accompany Aslan’s own triumph over death...

2 comments:

  1. Good thoughts, thanks. Appreciate the point that God's redemptive work is large and grand. And yet how does Lewis's vision of redeemed worlds still guard against universalism?

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  2. I read in Miracles, I think it was, that Lewis said if there was one component of Christian doctrine he could remove, it would be that some are damned, but that he couldn't remove it because the Bible stated it plain as day. I kind of feel the same way, but who am I to question God's plan? Maybe Lewis' writings lean the way he wants it to be, in terms of a grand, cosmic redemption, but I don't think he explicitly says that each individual creature will be redeemed. He'd say that redemption has spread to all creatures, but some simply reject it (that quote from The Great Divorce, "there are those who say to God "thy will be done," and those to whom God says "thy will be done" - in fact it is a character named George MacDonald who says this in heaven (I think) - apparently no longer a universalist). Not that this is the only way to guard against universalism.

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