MAN IN GOD'S IMAGE. By C.S. Lewis
Of each creature we can say, 'This also is Thou: neither is this Thou.'
Simple faith leaps to this with astonishing ease. I once talked to a continental pastor who had seen Hitler, and had, by all human standards, good cause to hate him. 'What did he look like?' I asked. 'Like all men,' he replied. 'That is, like Christ.'
God is present in each thing but not necessarily in the same mode; not in a man as in the consecrated bread and wine, nor in a bad man as in a good one, nor in a beast as in a man, nor in a tree as in a beast, nor in inanimate matter as in a tree.
I take it there is a paradox here. The higher the creature, the more, and also the less, God is in it; the more present by grace, and the less present (by a sort of abdication) as mere power. By grace He gives the higher creatures power to will His will ('and wield their little tridents'): the lower ones simply execute it automatically.
I have said that he was almost wholly logical; but not quite. He had been a Presbyterian and was now an Atheist. He spent Sunday, as he spent most of his time on week-days, working in his garden.
But one curious trait from his Presbyterian youth survived. He always, on Sundays, gardened in a different, and slightly more respectable, suit. An Ulster Scot may come to disbelieve in God, but not to wear his weekday clothes on the Sabbath.
'Creation' as applied to human authorship seems to me to be an entirely misleading term. We rearrange elements He has provided. There is not a vestige of real creativity de novo in us.
Try to imagine a new primary colour, a third sex, a fourth dimension, or even a monster which does not consist of bits of existing animals stuck together.
Nothing happens. And that surely is why our works never mean to others quite what we intended; because we are re-combining elements made by Him and already containing His meanings.
Because of those divine meanings in our materials it is impossible that we should ever know the whole meaning of our own works, and the meaning we never intended may be the best and truest one.
Writing a book is much less like creation than it is like planting a garden or begetting a child; in all three cases we are only entering as one cause into a causal stream which works, so to speak, in its own way.
I would not wish it to be otherwise. If one could really create in the strict sense, would not one find that one had created a sort of Hell?
The deeper the level within ourselves from which our prayer, or any other act, wells up, the more it is His, but not at all the less ours.
Rather, most ours when most His. Arnold speaks of us as 'enisled' from one another in 'the sea of life'. But we can't be similarly 'enisled' from God. To be discontinuous from God as I am discontinuous from you would be annihilation.
Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist. He is best known for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, etc.