As Lewis understood it, human beings could one day enter into the very beauty and energy of God and become “true and everlasting and really divine persons.”, which can be seen as a manifesto on the subject, Lewis argues that the whole purpose of Christianity is to turn people into what he variously calls “new men,” “little Christs,” “Sons of God”—and “gods and goddesses.” Lewis knew such language might give many of us a shock, but he insisted that this is “precisely what Christianity is about.” Although largely forgotten by Christians today, deification is at the heart of Lewis’ vision of reality.
From his sermons to his apologetic essays, from his space fiction to his children’s stories, one can hardly find a corner of his literary universe that is not illumined by the idea.
A Forgotten Strand It is not surprising that some modern Christians might find this idea baffling or even heretical; but neither is it surprising that Lewis Lewis encountered the idea of deification everywhere from St.
Athanasius to George Mac Donald, and he knew the doctrine was held from earliest times by many church fathers (like Athanasius) who helped establish the canon of the New Testament and the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation.
—from “The Weight of Glory” When he was president of the Oxford Socratic Club during the 1940s and 50s, C. Lewis featured weekly discussions on “repellent doctrines.” By these, he meant traditional Christian teachings that seemed puzzling or implausible—teachings on suffering, miracles, hierarchy, and the like.
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Lewis thought these doctrines conveyed truths that modern people most needed to know but were least likely to recognize: “We must never avert our eyes from those elements in [our religion] which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know.” or divinization) sees salvation not merely as divine pardon but rather as a process of spiritual transformation that culminates in mystical union with God.Rather than use the term explicitly, he conveyed the idea in scriptural terms of being “in Christ,” becoming “new creatures,” or sharing in the “glory of God,” as well as with literary images like the celestial light, the face, the dance, the fountain, the marriage, the winged horse, and the statue-come-to-life.Significantly, rather than Lewis the scholar or Lewis the rationalist, it was Lewis the poet, Lewis the Romantic, Lewis the lover of myth, and Lewis the imaginative writer who was most sensitive to this idea’s power.Evelyn Underhill, the British author of a classic study on mysticism, once wrote a letter to Lewis in which she praised this novel and commented on the cosmic rays: “Perhaps the rays Ransom felt came more directly from the heart of God and so had a vivifying effect on those fit to receive them.” Underhill held a similar view of divine energies, writing elsewhere that “grace, for [St.] Paul, was no theological abstraction, but an actual inflowing energy, which makes possible man’s transition from the natural to the spiritual state.” With his stress on the interpenetration of the natural by the supernatural, and with his belief in human deification, perhaps it is not surprising that Lewis was featured in a chapter of a 1964 anthology called The ultimate objective of the spiritual life being union with God, it could be said that the theology of Lancelot Andrewes is a mystical theology, on condition that one makes a little more precise the meaning of the term.It is not a matter, indeed, of any exceptional experience, reserved for a few, in some way outside the traditional ways of theology.Deified human beings forever remain human while at the same time sharing in divine grace or energy, just like blazing iron in the fire shares the properties of flame but doesn’t cease to be iron.Human beings will not melt into an impersonal God like a salt statue tossed into the ocean, or become new and independent divine beings in a type of polytheistic evolution.Lewis thought that both God’s infinite distance God’s closest proximity must be kept in mind.He portrays the latter in the enchanted vision of Narnia, where trees dance, rivers teem with nymphs, birds carry messages, and stars are glittering people with long hair like burning silver.Nor does deification mean that human beings eventually will evolve into something essentially equal to God (as suggested by the bumper sticker that proclaimed, “I am a Goddess: Worship Me”).Lewis was always clear on the difference between creature and Creator—an irreducible ontological distinction.