Like with G.K. Chesterton, I have hit my limit with C.S. Lewis. The latest book of his that I read, Miracles, continues on the pattern of obtuse, philosophically-styled writing that comes from a heterodox position. He has brought many people to God, I’m certain, but for the simple faith I strive for, I prefer the directness of Orthodoxy as taught by the Saints and Holy Elders. That said, here are a few profitable passages from Lewis’ book Miracles.
The nature of miracles
If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter He has created a new situation at that point. Immediately all Nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the laws. If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take it over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born. We see every day that physical nature is not in the lead incommoded by the daily inrush of event from biological nature or from psychological nature. If events come from beyond Nature altogether, she will be no more incommoded by them.
A miracle is emphatically not an event without cause or without results. Its cause is the activity of God: its results follow according to Natural law. In the forward direction (i.e. during the time which follows its occurrence) it is interlocked with all Nature just like any other event. Its peculiarity is that it is not in that way interlocked backwards, interlocked with the previous history of Nature.
If you are not in the Orthodox Church, you may be wondering why God has stopped performing miracles. They were so common in the Bible, yet today they are hardly seen. In reality, miracles are constantly occurring, but within His Church. If you are outside His Church, you may never see miracles, and be tempted by Satan to pursue charismatic and mediumistic experiences to satisfy your craving for the spiritual. That said, one should not pursue miracles, since it is the weakest way to build faith, but instead let God show you His presence when He deems it necessary for you.
The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the ‘gospels’, the narrative 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 basic 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 later 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 New Testament as a construction upon it. The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written.
When we are praying about the result, say, of a battle or a medical consultation the thought will often cross our minds that (if only we knew it) the event is already decided one way or the other. I believe this to be no good reason for ceasing our prayers. The event certainly has been decided—in a sense it was decided ‘before all worlds’. But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are not offering.
When the event you prayed for occurs your prayer has always contributed to it. When the opposite event occurs your prayer has never been ignored; it has been considered and refused, for your ultimate good and the good of the whole universe.
According to Orthodox priest Thomas Hopko, God’s foreknowledge accounted for our prayers before He made the world. The less prayer you perform, the worse your outcomes will be (for your soul) and the harder it will be to endure those outcomes. Consider that praying for a specific person was heard by God before He created the world, and will thus impact that person during the course of their lifetime. It’s up to Him to decide what we will go through in response to prayer, but I have no doubt that prayer helps me to get through trials without sacrificing my faith.
For a 300-page book, the above were all the gems that I could identify. C.S. Lewis is an important figure in Christendom, but I will have to go elsewhere for spiritual counsel. I don’t think you would suffer loss if you skip on his book Miracles.
Learn More: Miracles by C.S. Lewis