Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mere Christianity: Book 4 (Beyond Personality); Ch. 1 (Making and Begetting)

The Trinity and Why Religion Matters

Book four of Mere Christianity is part in which Lewis explains the doctrine of the Trinity.  While it's important that every believer understands this fundamental concept of theology, I will spend less time explaining that, and more time focusing on a few other arguments Lewis makes.

The issue I first want to deal with is the interplay between doctrinal religion, and relational spirituality.  Lewis rightly points out that many "Christians" shy away from doctrine, or religion in general because they don't really see the point.  To them, doctrine is impersonal and decrepit--it doesn't foster a relationship with the Divine, but rather restricts you to think about Him to only a certain paradigm.

Lewis, to some extent, agrees with this.  He states that actual experience of God and relationship with him, is a more real manifestation of the Divine than simply knowing his doctrines and revelations.  His analogy is comparing standing on the shore of the ocean to looking at a map of the ocean.  Obviously standing on the shore is a much more real experience than looking at an image.

But here's the thing, without the map we get lost, and what's more, that map is the product of many experienced peoples knowledge and expression.  Without that map, we cannot see the full extent of the ocean, and we are likely to get lost if we set out ourselves without a map.

So is the Church--it is our map.  Yes, we should be in a personal relationship with God, and we should seek to experience him beyond the rituals and doctrines of our religion, but we CANNOT separate religion from spirituality.  To do so is to mold God into what we want him to be.  To do so is to refuse the experience of wise men (and women) over the course of 2000 years of spiritual exploration.  To do so is to get lost in the vastness of our own finite and ignorant intellect, passions, and personal experience.  The Church is anchor of all believers, and to set out into the deep ocean of faith without it is not only silly and illogical, but prideful.  This is even apart from all the arguments concerning the establishment of the Church by Christ, and the necessity of Sacraments for humans who are both body and soul.  When it all comes down it, people who are spiritual, but are not religious, do not have a true spirituality at all, because it is not grounded in the Spirit.

Now, a quick note on begetting--We say that the Father begets the Son... this means that, in a sense, Jesus is born of the Father... he is of the same substance.  This is all very high and lofty theology, but the primary thing to realize is that Jesus is God, a different person of God, and that he was not created...he existed before all time, and is thus eternal.  We are created, however, and thus are inherently separated from God even insofar as we are created.  However, Lewis states that, the very idea of Christianity is, in effect, obtaining new life, a new creation, in which we go from our human life into a spiritual life.  We become adopted children of God.  He relates this to, what is basically, Pinoccio.  We are no longer statues, no longer things of merely creation, through Christ we take on life and become animated in the Spirit.  We become Christlike.

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