The Hangover

Lewis shares some good advice about reading the Bible and modern commentaries about the Bible in the epilogue of Miracles. He suggests first and foremost that if you want to know what the Bible says, read the Bible, not alongside the critics and sages, but without them altogether. He further suggests that we study the Bible in a good translation that gives a close reading of the text since many of us do not know the Greek. And then, “when you turn from the New Testament to modern scholars,” Lewis says, “remember that you go among them as a sheep among wolves.”

He says this because of the prevailing adoption of “naturalistic assumptions,” as Lewis names it. Namely, there is a tendency to explain away the miraculous for the sake of our more educated, scientific view. Lewis does give the benefit of the doubt to some of these scholars, however. He says that this naturalistic view, “does not mean (as I was once tempted to suspect) that these clergymen are disguised apostates who deliberately exploit the position and the livelihood given them by the Christian Church to undermine Christianity. It comes partly from what we may call a ‘hangover’.”

“Hangover” is a nice term for the idea that we are all infected with the world’s assumptions about ultimate questions and what we identify as True. “Hangover” is a good description because we all must go through a recovery phase and continue to be guarded once we have better ordered our sensibilities around the revelation that we see in Scripture and that we know historically. Lewis says, “We all have Naturalism in our bones and even conversion does not at once work the infection out of our system.” 

“You must develop a nose like a bloodhound,” says Lewis, “for those steps in the argument which depend not on historical and linguistic knowledge but on the concealed assumption that miracles are impossible, improbable or improper.” How do we do this? “You must really re-educate yourself,” he says, and, “work hard and consistently to eradicate from your mind the whole type of thought in which we have all been brought up.”

“And yet… and yet…It is that and yet which I fear more than any positive argument against miracles,” Lewis says, “that soft, tidal return of your habitual outlook as you close the book and the familiar four walls about you and the familiar noises from the street reassert themselves.”

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