Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Miracle of the New Creation: CS Lewis on the Resurrction

I have been reading a number of books in preparation for Resurrection Sunday's message and I came across of number of good quotes from Clive Stables Lewis. Cs Lewis is one of my favorite authors and I have read all of his signature classics. Although I disagree with some of his theological views, Lewis' influence on me is profound. I have enjoyed reading his Narnia series as well as many of his letters, essays, biography, and nonfiction writings. I highly recommend him.

But in his book, Miracles, Lewis sees the two greatest miracles in Scripture to be the Incarnation and the Resurrection. Regarding the resurrection, Lewis had this to say:

. . . to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. Thus people who had heard only fragments of St. Paul’s teaching at Athens got the impression that he was talking about two new gods, Jesus and Anastasis (i.e., Resurrection) (Acts 17:18). The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the ‘gospels’, the narratives of Our Lord’s life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes alter as a comment on it. Nothing could be more unhistorical than to pick out selected sayings of Christ from the gospels and to regard those as the datum and the rest of the NT as a construction upon it. The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say that they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written. (234-235)

What I like about what Lewis says here is that he equates the gospel with the Resurrection. It is all too common today to buy books on the gospel that speak only of the atonement, i.e., the cross. The cross is foundational to the gospel, however too many overlook the resurrection of Christ. If Jesus had died, we would still be in our sins. But because Jesus died as our substitute and then was raised from the dead, we can be saved. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, if Christ has not risen, we remain in our sins and to be most pitied.

Note another quote from Lewis:
The NT writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened (237).

I love this quote: He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death." As Paul wrote, "O Death, where is your sting!"

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