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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: