A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“That is what always happens when you go away from the words of the Bible. It is quite right to go away from them for a moment in order to make some special point clear. But you must always go back. Naturally God knows how to describe Himself much better than we know how to describe Him (p. 174).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
In this part of Mere Christianity, Lewis was discussing how the biblical metaphors are the most accurate ones for understanding who God is and how we relate to Him. For those who believe the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God, this is not a surprising statement.
But when you consider the vivid mind of Lewis, it becomes a statement worth additional consideration. After all, Lewis had the kind of imagination that could create an entire new world (Narnia) with countless metaphors to biblical truth which were simple enough for children to understand and profound enough to capture the attention of adults.
Lewis was an immensely skilled apologist who could deliver the message of Christianity in ways that were compelling to the unbeliever and simultaneously referenced in advanced theology classes. When Lewis speaks of metaphors or word images, he speaks as an elite expert in the field.
In this statement, he makes two points. First, he says it is “quite right” to explore other ways of expressing biblical truths. Second, he says we will never improve upon how God chose to reveal Himself.
How are these two statements not contradictory? It should first be clarified that Lewis is not advocating for trying to find other “truths.” Lewis is saying that it is right to find new, meaningful ways to communicate biblical truths.
In many ways this is merely what it means to meditate upon Scripture. We roll the story, themes, principles, commands, and insight of Scripture in our mind in order to see how our experiences, talents, and gifts can bring them to light for others. We naturally do this with everything we delight in. Why would God or the Bible be any different?
However, as with most other things we ponder, we are either looking for ways to improve upon it, find exceptions, or disprove it. When we consider Scripture, we are marveling at something that we know has more meaning and significance than we can understand or articulate.
We use other metaphors to bring these truths to our level. As we do so, if we are accurate, we gain better insight into who God is and that will always lead us back to seeing that the biblical metaphors are the best for understanding God.
The journey will have accomplished several things. First, we will see God’s grace in not restricting our thoughts or imagination. Second, we will have sharpened our ability to communicate biblical truth through our gifts and in our circles of influence. Third, we will be humbled by the limitation of our imagination to capture God’s grandeur. Ultimately, we will have our confidence in Scripture strengthened as our meditation is brought back to God’s pictures of himself.