“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)

4 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

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