The Corner Has Been Turned

C. S. Lewis’s essay, “The Grand Miracle,” concludes with a comparison of Christianity with other religions. He notices what he calls “an odd point.” All other religions, he comments, are either “nature religions” or the very opposite—religions that are “anti-nature” in their beliefs. The nature religions are easily identified as all the old pagan types where “You actually got drunk in the temple of Bacchus. You actually committed fornication in the temple of Aphrodite.”

He then identifies the anti-nature religions as, for example, Hinduism and Stoicism. The emphases in these religions are the opposite of the pagan beliefs. Instead of giving oneself over to nature, so to speak, these religions point in a different direction altogether. They are offering a completely divergent lifestyle: “’I will starve my flesh. I care not whether I live or die.’” All natural things are to be set aside: the aim is Nirvana, apathy, negative spirituality,” is how Lewis describes them. So while the nature religions affirm natural desires, the anti-nature religions contradict and attempt to wipe out those desires.

Neither of these types comes close to what Christian revelation gives to the world.

What is that “something quite new”? Lewis continues:

The day will come when there will be a re-made universe, infinitely obedient to the will of glorified and obedient men, when we can do all things, when we shall be those gods that we are described as being in Scripture.

To be sure, it feels wintry enough still: but often in the very early spring it feels like that. Two thousand years are only a day or two by this scale. A man really ought to say, “The Resurrection happened two thousand years ago” in the same spirit in which he says, “I saw a crocus yesterday.”

I have to admit when I first read this, I wasn’t sure what he was referring to when he mentioned the crocus. While I knew it was a flower, I didn’t get the comparison. But a clarification wasn’t long in coming.

We don’t yet see the fulfillment of the promise. The complete resurrection has not yet taken place. Yet Christ has been raised and the promise is that someday, so shall we. The crocus tells us that the corner has been turned. Spring is on the way. And unlike the crocus, which has no power of choice, we can determine whether we sink back “into the cosmic winter” or go on “into those ‘high mid-summer pomps’ in which our Leader, the Son of Man, already dwells, and to which He is calling us.”

By all means, we must respond to the call and choose to enter into His promise and His joy.