C. S. Lewis: The Question of Multiple Incarnations

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


Formulated by Aquinas, commented on by post-Copernican philosophers and theologians, analysed in depth by C.S. Lewis, and deliberated by some contemporary writers, the question of multiple incarnations either within humanity or amongst extra-terrestrial sentient species is all too intermittently examined: ‘Can the Christ be incarnated more than once in our reality, or somewhere else in the universe, or another reality?’ In this paper, we examine the debate and the conclusions: that is, Lewis’s position within his philosophical theology and his analogical narratives; also, some contemporary philosophers of religion and theologians (Karl Rahner, with Christopher L. Fisher and David Fergusson; Sjoerd L. Bonting and William B. Drees; E.L. Mascall and Brian Hebblethwaite; Oliver Crisp and Keith Ward). How do they relate to Aquinas’s handling of the question and how do they compare with Lewis’s approach based on a theology of the imagination (grounded in Augustine and Alice Meynell)? Can Lewis resolve the argument? Could alien species have witnessed wholly different acts, equally unique, costly to God, and necessary to the process of salvation? Any answer or explanation relates to the function and purpose of the incarnation: the Fall, original sin—therefore, how we define the boundaries, limits, of atonement.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... For other discussions of the possibility of multiple incarnations, see MarilynAdams (1985; 2009, 241), J.P.Arendzen (1941, 161), Fr. KennethBaker (2013, 47), SjoerdBonting (2003), Paul Brazier (2013, William LaneCraig (2006, 63), OliverCrisp (2008; 2009, chap. 8),Richard Cross (2005, 230-232), PaulDavies (2003), Christopher Fisher ...
Full-text available
In this article I canvas the options available to a proponent of the traditional doctrine of the incarnation against a charge of incoherence. In particular, I consider the charge of incoherence due to incompatible predications both being true of the same one person, the God-man Jesus Christ. For instance, one might think that anything divine has to have certain attributes - perhaps omnipotence, or impassibility. But, the charge continues, nothing human can be omnipotent or impassible. And so nothing can be divine and human. So Christ is not both God and man, contrary to the traditional doctrine of the incarnation. To do so, first, in Section II, I will present the problem as a deductively valid argument. I then, in that section, go on to show that the proponent of traditional Christology should grant all but one premise of the argument. In the remaining sections I will canvas possible solutions to the problem. In Section III I discuss three ways to deny Premise 3 of the forthcoming argument. These ways include a Kenotic response, qua-modification (in four versions), and finally a response that accepts the compatibility of the allegedly incompatible predicates.
In recent decades, powerful telescopes have enabled astrophysicists to uncover startling new worlds and solar systems. An epochal moment came in 1995, when a planet – 51 Pegasi b – was located orbiting a star other than our own sun. Since then, thousands of new planets have followed, and the question of life beyond earth has become one of the principal topics in discussions between science and religion. Attention to this topic has a long history in Christian theology, but has rarely been pursued at any depth. Writing with both passion and precision, Andrew Davison brings his extensive knowledge of Christian thought to bear, drawing particularly on the thought of Thomas Aquinas, as well as his training as a scientist. No book to date better prepares the Christian community for responding to evidence of other life, if it is found. And yet, we do not need to wait for that to have happened before this book shows its worth. In thinking about planets, creatures, and ecosystems beyond our planet, Davison already reinvigorates our theology for the earth.
In this article I present two arguments from Brian Hebblethwaite for the conclusion that multiple incarnations are impossible, as well as the analyses of those arguments provided by three other thinkers: Oliver Crisp, Peter Kevern, and Robin Le Poidevin. I argue that both of Hebblethwaite's arguments are unsound.
In this article I present St. Thomas Aquinas's views on the possibility of multiple incarnations. First I disambiguate four things one might mean when saying that multiple incarnations are possible. Then I provide and justify what I take to be Aquinas's answers to these questions, showing the intricacies of his argumentation and concluding that he holds an extremely robust view of the possibility of multiple incarnations. According to Aquinas, I argue, there could be three simultaneously existing concrete rational natures, each of which is assumed by all three of the Divine Persons, all at the same time.
Scitation is the online home of leading journals and conference proceedings from AIP Publishing and AIP Member Societies
This paper is an examination of the Christology and Pneumatology that C. S. Lewis read from the apparent prefiguring of elements of the Incarnation-Resurrection narrative in religious myths, and also his assertion that the incarnation-resurrection narrative operates on us both as fact and myth. After an initial examination of the term myth and mythopoeia, Lewis' writings on the myth that became reality (the Christ event) are discussed along with examples of prefigurement. Through his understanding of natural theology (rooted in that of Augustine, though fed by Lewis' daily reading of the Summa Theologiae) and his cautious respect for human imagination (from the poet, theologian and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge) and in contrast to his earlier deference for the conclusions of the Victorian religionist and social anthropologist James George Frazer, Lewis came to regard these prefigurements as the work of the Holy Spirit – intimations of God's salvific action in Christ – though Lewis' orthodoxy saw human imagination as flawed through original sin. This leads us to ask three questions: first, how do these prefigured ideas come to be in these myths and how do these intimations, splintered fragments of the true light, relate to Lewis' understanding of Christ as the light of the world; second, how does the Incarnation-Resurrection narrative act/operate on us as a myth, whether spoken or read (a baptized imagination is crucial here for Lewis in both the creation and receiving/hearing of such narratives); and third, is there internal evidence for a mythopoeic interpretation within the Incarnation-Resurrection narrative? Our conclusions can be illustrated by a brief examination of Lewis' own Christian myth – Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia– originally written for a Christian audience but now read by mainly non-Christian/post-Christian children and adults.
The prospect of extra-terrestrial intelligence has become a central topic of scientific investigation and popular speculation. This has generated questions of ethical and theological significance that now receive growing coverage. Throughout his writings, Karl Rahner remained open to the prospect that the process of cosmic evolution had yielded sentient life form in other galaxies. He argued against any theological veto on this notion, while also distinguishing the existential significance of such life forms from that of angels. Furthermore, the possibility of multiple incarnations is raised though not affirmed. With its christological intensity, his theology seems to militate against any repetition of the incarnation. This essay examines some of the arguments for and against the possibility of multiple incarnations, before assessing the current state of the extra-terrestrial intelligence debate. In the light of inconclusive scientific findings, the cautionary position of Rahner is re-affirmed.
Bible and tradition remain silent on intelligent extraterrestrial life, and few modern theologians have expressed themselves on this topic. Scientific insight suggests the possibility, even likelihood, of the development of life on extrasolar earthlike planets. It is argued that such life forms would resemble earthly life (biochemistry, genetic system, neuronal processes) and also develop a religious and moral life. As creatures with free will they would be prone to sin and in need of salvation. It is argued that this would not require multiple incarnations, since Jesus is the cosmic Christ.
From antiquity to the present, humans have debated whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe. This presentation will survey this debate, examining the roles played in it by science, religion, philosophy, and other areas of human learning. One thesis that will be developed is that whether or not extraterrestrials exist, ideas about them have strongly influenced Western thought.
C.S. Lewis on Revelation and Second Meanings: A Philosophical and Pneumatological Justification
  • Brazier P.H.
Faith and the New Millennium
  • Ward God
1220-1298) known as Thomas the Rhymer or True Thomas a thirteenth century Scottish laird is the protagonist and probable author of the balladThomas the Rhymer(Child no 37) and the writing down of the (Anglo-Saxon) legend ofTam Lin
  • Thomas Learmonth