The following passage from C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity has me thinking about things most theologians don’t – or perhaps won’t – address:
There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.
Combine it with this one, which is very well known:
“You do not ‘have’ a soul. You are a soul. You ‘have’ a body.”
Lewis insisted on the primacy of the soul…if you like, on its superiority to our physical selves as regards our true identity. It was a critical observation, one that I’ve used in fiction. But it has implications that are worthy of more thought than I’d previously given it.
Men are plainly material beings. That we are also spiritual beings is less obvious. It’s something we had to discover, or be told. But because we can’t sense the soul with our physical, material senses, we have a tendency to regard it as immaterial, or perhaps sub-material. That may be an error. Consider: in Christian theology,
- The soul’s existence precedes the body;
- It holds the essence of our identity;
- It survives the death of the body;
- In fact, it persists eternally.
That collection of properties makes the human soul super-material. It has a greater, larger, more enduring reality than the stuff we can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. It gives fuller meaning to the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, as well: the transformation of the material body into a super-material form, capable of persisting forever.
This has me thinking about Abbott’s Flatland, and the two-dimensional protagonist’s revelation that there are more dimensions than he was previously able to perceive. Perhaps the matter we know is a projection from God’s realm into this four-dimensional universe in which we are born, live, and die. If so, then death allows us to rise, as did Mr. A. Square, to perceive our true selves, the super-matter of which our four-dimensional selves are a flattened image.
This seems to me a possible clue to the nature of God’s super-reality, from which He projected our material universe. But it’s too early in the morning for me to take this any further. I need another pot of coffee, at least. Maybe with pancakes and bacon to wash it down. Bacon improves everything, does it not?