TO MR. YOUNG: Lewis’s last letter of direction—on the virgin birth; on the glorified body of the risen Christ; on atonement theories; and on the wrath of God.
31 October 1963
1. I believe in the Virgin Birth in the fullest and most literal sense: that is, I deny that copulation with a man was the cause of the Virgin’s pregnancy.
2. It is not easy to define what we mean by an ‘essentially human body’. The records show that Our Lord’s Risen Body could pass through closed doors, which human bodies can’t: but also that it could eat. We shall know what a glorified body is when we have one ourselves: till then, I think we must acquiesce in mystery.
3. When Scripture says that Christ died ‘for’ us, I think the word is usually υπερ (on behalf of), not αντι (instead of). I think the ideas of sacrifice, ransom, championship (over death), substitution et cetera are all images to suggest the reality (not otherwise comprehensible to us) of the atonement. To fix on any one of them as if it contained and limited the truth like a scientific definition would in my opinion be a mistake.
4. All associations of human passions to God are analogical. The wrath of God: ‘something in God of which the best image in the created world is righteous indignation’. I think it quite a mistake to try to soften the idea of anger by substituting something like disapproval or regret. Even with men real anger is far more likely than cold disapproval to lead to full reconciliation. Hot love, hot wrath. . . .
Your questions are not in the least offensive.
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.