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Commonplaces

Piquant excerpts lifted from Touchstone editors' own reading & listening.



C. S. Lewis points out that the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, and the founder of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, have in common "something pretty substantial" with regard to their moral teaching. (He lists other figures too.) He then adds a footnote, explaining that he includes "the Incarnate God" alongside human teachers to emphasize that the main difference between Christ and these other figures lies not in ethics but ontology; it is Christ's "Person and Office" that are unique, not his teachings.

In his essay "The Psalms" (1958?), he contends that the Jewish and Christian traditions are not so distinct as they are sometimes held to be. He mentions that he has been reading the Old Testament and has been surprised by a verse from the book of the Proverbs (25:21): "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty give him water to drink." He confesses to being taken aback: "One rubs one's eyes. So they were saying that already. They knew that so long before Christ came." Such a concern for one's enemy has no counterpart in Greek teaching nor in Confucian morality, he says. There is a striking continuity between Old and New Testaments in terms of teaching: the wholly new thing about Christ is not the ethic he taught but who he was and what he did.

Michael Ward
After Humanity: A Guide to C. S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man (2021), p. 103


Christianity Commonplaces #114 Jan/Feb 2022

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