Summer reading? How about tackling Miracles by C. S. Lewis?

C. S. Lewis

(Thanks for coming by, and click here to learn more about my new novel, Red Metal.)

I just had the pleasure and honor of teaching Miracles, the C. S. Lewis book that was first released in 1947 and explores the question of whether miracles actually happen. Nearly 50 people took part in the class at La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church. You’re welcome to download the study guides I prepared for the class; you’ll find links to all five of them at the end of this post.

Lewis is always a rewarding read, and I think this would be true whether you’re Christian or not. He had a disciplined, creative mind; he taught at both Oxford and Cambridge universities.

He invariably will help you see religious issues in new ways. He appeals to me personally because he, along with other British Christians, brings an intellectual rigor to the faith that has all but vanished on this side of the Atlantic. (For more about this, check out this article about Lewis, John Stott, and J.R.R. Tolkien.)

In Miracles, Lewis notes that much of the world of his day had come to the belief that nothing exists except for what we can see, hear, taste, smell and feel. In other words, there is nothing more than the natural world and the universe in which we live.

Lewis has no problem with the idea of a universe billions of years old or with acknowledging that the evidence for most of evolutionary theory is strong and convincing. (Like any Christian, he would differ with the idea that there was nothing more than chance behind what we know to be the natural world.) When it comes to Scripture, he is not a fundamentalist, a literalist, and most assuredly not a six-day creationist. You can learn more about him here.

He makes a persuasive case that there things we deal with every day that simply could not have developed from an evolutionary process, namely, the ability to reason and the fact that nearly every human has a conscience. Those, he argues, had to come from something supernatural that lies outside and above nature.

Lewis notes that Christianity itself hinges on the grand miracle of the Incarnation, God become man in Jesus.

Lewis would be extremely cautious about calling any modern event a miracle. Certainly a miracle would be possible today, but typically miracles come at pivotal moments in spiritual history, and God doesn’t sprinkle them down freely as if falling from a pepper shaker. He also asserts that you probably wouldn’t want to be around when a miracle happened because they often occur in the midst of misery.

Lewis died on Nov. 22, 1963 – the same day President Kennedy was assassinated – but he continues to be heard today. He spent many years as an atheist before being drawn to Christianity, so he understood both sides of that coin. It’s part of what makes him such a compelling voice.

Miracles is a rewarding read, but not an easy one. I’m hoping the study guides below will help you get through the book if you decide to tackle it. If you read it, or if you’ve already read it, let me know what you think.

Here are the study guides:

Miracles, Chapters 1-5

Miracles, Chapters 6-10

Miracles, Chapters 11-13

Miracles, Chapters 14-15

Miracles, Chapters 16-17

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3 Responses to Summer reading? How about tackling Miracles by C. S. Lewis?

  1. Pingback: Author Blog Challenge – Day 7 Recap « 28-Day Blog Challenge for Authors

  2. olive says:

    thank you so much this was a lifesaver for me this summer!!!

  3. Ivan Sayer says:

    The problem with ‘MIRACLES’ is that it is a double furphy. If you ask Gerald or Marie why they have given up on Church, they may tell you that they can no longer believe all those miracle stories. This is usually an excuse! People often begin to doubt the miracle stories when they are getting sick of Church, but, as often as not the doubts are the effect, rather than the cause. I.e. they doubt because they are sick of Church, not the other way about.
    If now you convince them by elaborate reasoning that maybe the miracles did happen, you will, in most cases, have bandaged the scar, not healed the cut.
    Moreover, ‘MIRACLES’ makes documentary truth more central than it really is. Suppose the Gospels were wholly legendary. Does that get rid of miracles? Not at all! It implies a miracle of self-deception on the part of large numbers of people which cries out for explanation.
    If you read the first four chapters of Mark’s Gospel with an attentive and open mind, it will become clear that people were impressed by Jesus because he was a HEALER. (John’s Gospel is different!). This is true, unless of course the author or redactor of Mark was lying or self-deceived. That, however, is quite hard to believe, because there are NO records of anyone saying “C’mon – this is nonsense – this Jesus never healed a soul in his life!” Why wouldn’t Bartimaeus shut up ? Jesus’ enemies hated him, because he could do something, something that drew crowds, that they couldn’t do. What did Jesus enemies say at the end. ‘He saved others; himself he cannot save.’ In short, they bore witness to his power. If all the stories of healing miracles had been empty, they would have been saying so loudly.
    It is quite possible to believe that Jesus was a healer, and also that some of the stories about him are legendary. If all he ever did was walk on water and change water into wine, why, he was merely a conjurer. It is the CHARACTER of the majority of miracles, not the absolute accuracy of every episode retailed in the Gospels that matters.
    Moreover, a general argument in favour of belief in the possibility of miracle doesn’t in any way alter the fact that any given miracle story may be false.
    Arguing about such things may do nothing for Gerald or Marie. Their real reasons for giving their particular churches away may, or may not, be solid. Moreover, they may be incapable of expressing them with any exactitude.
    Ivan Sayer

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