A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

C.S. Lewis #2: Revelation

For Lewis, revelation has a progressive aspect. As myth anticipates history, so nature looks toward the revelation of Scripture. God is his own revelation of himself, but God has also made himself known in other ways and in other places, which can be seen, not only in Scripture, but elsewhere. The revelation of God can be received incompletely in other religions, in general history, dreams, the moral law, and human experience, to name just a few means and moments.

Revelation is progressive in that it gets more specific and becomes clearer over time and in certain places. The more specific and clearer can be seen in the history of Israel which clarifies further the pagan search for truth in its various forms. Christianity further clarifies Judaism as it fulfills what the Law of Moses longed for and pointed to indirectly. The final and complete revelation of God is found in Jesus Christ, who reveals God decisively bringing God into focus.

Lewis understands general revelation for all religions in three phases. The fourth phase of special revelation is reserved solely for Christianity. Lewis refers to the first phase as "numinous." In the numinous phase, one has a strong sense of awe as one experiences creation and seeks to make sense of one's strong feelings of longing. The second stage progresses from the numinous, as an individual becomes aware that there is a moral law which has been fractured. In the third phase, human beings realize that the source of the moral law is the numinous. In the fourth phase of specifically Christian revelation, God, the Numinous becomes flesh in Jesus Christ. This face to face divine/human encounter completes God's self-revelation. Jesus, as God's human face, reveals God decisively bringing the divine into focus.


Paul Miller said...

Thanks again for your short though helpful analyses of Lewis' thougths. It is tricky to summarise Lewis' complex views of things. This week I was reading his ideas on nature and the limited possibility of knowing God through nature. Second chapter of The Four Loves.
Could you please point out what you were reading for your posting. Next week I will probably meet the Dutch translator of almost all of Lewis' books in Dutch. He never agrees with anyone on Lewis (of course), so it seems :-), but I will point him to your Blog anyway.

Allan R. Bevere said...


What Lewis says about revelation can be found in his book, The Problem of Pain. I am basically drawing briefly on what I know from Lewis based on my own reading and research.

If I may make one recommendation-- Alan Jacobs' biography on Lewis entitled, The Narnian. Jacobs does a masterful job of interweaving Lewis' thought with his life expreriences.

Paul Miller said...

Thanks Allan, for your mentioning and recommendaton. I attended a study about 'A Grief Observed' and our next book is 'The Four Loves'.
I might have read 'The Problem of Pain' in my early Christian days, but just found out that I don't have the book on shelf.
I like reading an introductory book by Philip Van der Elst, about C.S. Lewis. The author's name is Dutch, but it seems to be translated into Dutch (???). Anyway, it makes good reading as well.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for another helpful post, Allan!

I wonder about the awareness of the moral law within, awakened, and then turned back to the numinous. I guess the numinous here refers to the wonder of nature, and not nature itself, that wonder potentially moving us towards God in Christ.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Yes, it is all of that, but it is also the wonder at life, the desire for purpose, and the imagination that stokes the possibility of what is and what might be.