Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity Book 4, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lewis offers two notes in this chapter. First, a potential objection to his argument would be, “Why did God create human beings and tell them to become divine, rather than simply making them divine?” Lewis answers the question in two ways. First, God gave humans the power of free will: he gave them the choice of becoming Sons or not. God prefers to challenge human beings, rather than creating them to be perfect already. Second, Lewis guesses that God could not have begotten an infinite number of Sons from the beginning of eternity—there could only be one. The only way to conceive of an infinite number of Sons would be to imagine them as “human forms standing about together in some kind of space.” In other words, the only way to conceive of infinite sons is to think of them existing in the universe—whereas one can conceive of a single Father and Son existing outside the material confines of the universe.
Lewis makes two points in this section; one familiar, the other a little strange. The familiar point (which Lewis has already made in Book Two) is that God wanted salvation to be difficult, not easy, so that humans could exercise their powers of free will and earn salvation in Heaven. The second, arguably stranger point is that God couldn’t have made an infinite number of Christs (i.e., sons of God), because they wouldn’t have fit in three-dimensional space. Lewis acknowledges that he’s speculating about God’s motives—in other words, he is not offering the theory of infinite Christs as the undisputed truth, but simply a hypothesis.
Themes
Good, Evil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Christianity and the Two Kinds of “Life” Theme Icon
Lewis’s notions of unity among humans could be interpreted to mean that individuals don’t really matter, as if all people are interchangeable. But in Christianity, human beings are like the different “organs in a body”—they are different from one another, and each one plays a unique part, but they are still all operating as one on some level. Lewis then says that there are two ways that the Christian mindset can be corrupted. If people think of themselves as utterly different from one another, without any common bond of religion, then they become individualists. If, however, they come to think that all people are just the same, their way of thinking becomes Totalitarian. Christianity, and Christianity alone, defines human beings as different yet also united—any step toward Totalitarianism or individualism is a dangerous perversion of the faith.
Lewis’s analogy between human beings and the organs of a body reinforces the difference between earthly life and spiritual life: an organ of the human body is “alive” insofar as it’s united with the other organs of the body. By the same token, to embody the state of zoe is to be united with other saved souls, even as one remains a fully functioning individual. Keep in mind that Lewis was writing at the start of the Cold War between the United States and the Totalitarian Soviet Union—at the time, the dangers of Totalitarianism were on everyone’s mind.
Themes
Good, Evil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Christianity and the Two Kinds of “Life” Theme Icon