“Why Mary?” C. S. Lewis on the Scandal of Particularity

One of the curious features of the Christian faith is what theologians call “the scandal of particularity.”  Rather than put forth a general philosophy of religious truth or a set of axioms the Christian faith tells a story, and that story invites questions: Why the election of the people of Israel to carry the promise?  Why is Mary chosen to bear Jesus?  Why Jesus himself as the incarnate One?

C. S. Lewis tells us that God’s peculiar way of choosing particular people for his purposes is an offense to our modern sensibilities.

 “To be quite frank, we do not at all like the idea of a “chosen people.” Democrats by birth and education, we should prefer to think that all nations and individuals start level in the search for God, or even that all religions are equally true. It must be admitted at once that Christianity makes no concessions to this point of view. It does not tell of a human search for God at all, but of something done by God for, to, and about Man. And the way in which it is done is selective, undemocratic, to the highest degree. After the knowledge of God had been universally lost or obscured, one man from the whole earth (Abraham) is picked out. He is separated (miserably enough, we may suppose) from his natural surroundings, sent into a strange country, and made the ancestor of a nation who are to carry the knowledge of the true God. Within this nation there is further selection: some die in the desert, some remain behind in Babylon. There is further selection still. The process grows narrower and narrower, sharpens at last into one small bright point like the head of a spear. It is a Jewish girl at her prayers. All humanity (so far as concerns its redemption) has narrowed to that.” (From Miracles, Chapter 14)

(Picture:  Da Vinci, sketch of a woman’s head)

5 thoughts on ““Why Mary?” C. S. Lewis on the Scandal of Particularity

  1. Up early for unspecifiable reasons, finally thought of you. Your website is like flypaper! Enter one click, and you’re a goner. Loved the photo of the protesters on the Common, as well as your comments on same. Which somehow put me near Lewis on particularity. — Never mind. I’ll get in touch soon. — George

  2. Thank you very much for writing this piece. I have read much of C S Lewis’ writings – but not yet ‘Miracles’. Although, the scandal of particularity is mentioned in the lovely book ‘Unlocking the Bible’ by David Pawson (a retired English minister of the gospel and gifted Bible teacher). At the end of 1989 i received a prophecy from Charles Slagle (then from Texas – now in Arizona) about my role in healing in the move of God to come in England. In c2006 I asked the Holy Spirit to heal the lame foot of Michael in my church (South West London Vineyard) and his foot was miraculously healed. In spite of some sufferings I am grateful for my ongoing walk with Christ in what can be a difficult world. I am sure that your blogging is very helpful to many and I wish you the best with continuing to do it. You come across as theologically very balanced. I highly valued coming to see my friends John and Vicky Gorin (a pastor and wife at Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Mountain View CA) in the summer of 2008 and enjoyed spending a week in Monterey at a hotel. With affection and prayers

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