Mere Christianity, Book Four, Chapter 2: “The Three-Personal God”

Lewis’ example of begetting and making.

Begetting v. Making
Begets Makes
God Word/Logos/Son/Jesus Man, creatures, world
Man Son/children Statue, table, shoe
in general ‘Like’/same substance unlike/different stuff

Personality and God: New Age, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. (hereafter shown as “NA/H/B”), believe “in a god that is beyond personal.” Christians agree, but in a starkly contrasting way to those religions. The others believe in something impersonal… something that has “transcended” the personal. Christians (and only Christians) believe in something that is super-personal… the source that person/personal/personality flows (down) from.

NA/H/B believes that after one or more lives, human souls will eventually be ‘absorbed’ in ‘god.’ By this, they mean absorbed into a Nothingness of some kind. Only Christians have the concept of being taken into a new life of God in which the persons remain themselves — but more themselves than before.

Lewis introduces the analogy of 1, 2 and 3-dimensional worlds. Each additional dimension makes possible a universe unimaginable in those with fewer dimensions. This example is to show that although a tri-personal being could not exist within the world we inhabit, there is no reason to think that one could exist ‘beyond’ (and by that, we do not mean ‘far away,’ but that it could exist in dimensions we cannot directly reach into).

Tapping into “God’s dimension”:

What I mean is this. An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God – that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on – the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life – what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself. [emphasis added]

And that is how Theology started. People already knew about God in a vague way. Then came a man who claimed to be God; and yet He was not the sort of man you could dismiss as a lunatic. He made them believe Him. They met Him again after they had seen Him killed. And then, after they had been formed into a little society or community, they found God somehow inside them as well: directing them, making them able to do things they could not do before. And when they worked it all out they found they had arrived at the Christian definition of the three-personal God.

“Theology is, in a sense, an experimental science. It is simple religions that are the made-up ones.” Unlike the natural sciences, where we initiate the study (geology, zoology, etc), in this study, the subject (God) has to come to us, even to initiate the conversation. Even then, he will reveal himself more to some than to others.

God can only show himself to ‘real men.’ Even then, one in the community of other studiers of God: “And that means not simply to men who are individually good, but to men who are united together in a body, loving one another, helping one another, showing Him to one another. For that is what God meant humanity to be like: like players in one band, or organs in one body.”

The only instrument that can really seek the truth about God is the Community of Christians — the Church, “Christian brotherhood is, so to speak, the technical equipment for this science – the laboratory outfit.”

If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.

[[ Next: Mere Christianity, Book Four, Chapter 3: “Time and Beyond Time” ]]

Parent: Mere Christianity: Leaders’ Notes Series

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