Another fine piece from the C. S. Lewis blog, this time describing some of Lewis’s metaphors for understanding the Incarnation and Atonement. David C. Downing (Professor of English at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania) writes:
“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” That concise statement by the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 5:19a) has kept theologians busy for nearly two thousand years, trying to understand what exactly is being affirmed in the Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement.
C. S. Lewis never lost his sense of wonder about either one of these central Christian teachings. Referring to the Incarnation as “The Grand Miracle,” Lewis said he could not conceive how “eternal self-existent Spirit” could be combined with “a natural human organism” so as to make one person. He added, though, that every human embodies the same enigma to a lesser degree, an immortal spirit inhabiting a mortal body (Miracles, chap. 14).
In one of his most extended comparisons, Lewis compares Christ to a pearl-diver, a passage so elaborate that it borders on allegory:
“One may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanishing rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the deathlike region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks the surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing he went down to recover. He and it are both coloured now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colorless in the dark, he lost his color too” (Miracles, chap. 14) . . . .
In a more mystical vein, Lewis describes God as an infinite ocean of light, able to absorb all shadows: “The pure light walks the earth; the darkness, received into the heart of the Deity, is there swallowed up. Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?” (Letters to Malcolm, chap. 8).