The Missing Chapter

Christianity, according to CS Lewis, is the missing chapter in life that ties together the whole of humanity and makes it meaningful. Here he elaborates on one divine characteristic which we find in nature in the forest fire and the pine cone, the salmon and the spawning grounds, the seed and its much fruit (John 12:24).


Supposing you had before you a manuscript of some great work, either a symphony or a novel. There then comes to you a person, saying, ‘Here is a new bit of the manuscript that I found; it is the central passage of that symphony, or the central chapter of that novel. The text is incomplete without it. I have got the missing passage which is really the centre of the whole work.’ The only thing you could do would be to put this new piece of the manuscript in that central position, and then see how it reacted on the whole of the rest of the work. If it constantly brought out new meanings from the whole of the rest of the work, if it made you notice things in the rest of the work which you had not noticed before, then I think you would decide that it was authentic. On the other hand, if it failed to do that, then, however attractive it was in itself, you would reject it.

Now, what is the missing chapter in this case, the chapter which Christians are offering? The story of the Incarnation is a story of a descent and resurrection. When I say ‘resurrection’ here, I am not referring simply to the first few hours, or the first few weeks of the Resurrection. I am talking of this whole, huge pattern of descent, down, down, and then up again. What we ordinarily call the Resurrection being just, so to speak, the point at which it turns. Think what the descent is. The coming down, not only into humanity but into those nine months which precede human birth, in which they tell us we all recapitulate strange pre-human, sub-human forms of life, and going lower still into being a corpse, a thing which, if this ascending movement had not begun, would presently have passed out of the organic altogether, and have gone back into the inorganic, as all corpses do. One has a picture of someone going right down and dredging the sea-bottom. One has a picture of a strong man trying to lift a big, complicated burden. He stoops down and gets himself right under it so that he himself disappears; and then he straightens his back and moves off with the whole thing swaying on his shoulders. Or else one has a picture of a diver, stripping off garment after garment, making himself naked, then flashing for a moment in the air, and then down through the green, and warm, and sunlit water into the pitch black, cold, freezing water, down into the mud and slime, then up again, his lungs almost bursting, back again to the green and warm and sunlit water, and then at last out in to the sunshine, holding in his hand the dripping thing he went down to get. This thing is human nature; but, associated with it, all nature, the new universe.

CS Lewis. God in the Dock: Essays on Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970.

When we see these principles as the handiwork of a Divine author who Himself descended into the lower parts of the earth and ascended far above all the heavens that He might fill all things (Ephesians 4:9-10), they all make sense.


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