This is a short piece I wrote for our most recent academic catalog. The gravesite pictured here is the actual gravesite of C.S. Lewis. I had our media guy alter the date of death for the purpose of this post. I think he did a pretty good job.
I recently watched a video on C.S. Lewis and I learned that Lewis was wounded in battle during WWI. The date was April 15, 1918. The gravesite pictured here is what we might have seen if this wound had been fatal (two of his friends did die from wounds sustained at the time). Sometimes when I hear things like this I’ll hear someone say something like “Just think what we would have lost if he had been killed.” Great books like Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and The Chronicles of Narnia, would never have been written. On the flip side of this I sometimes hear things like “Just think what would happen if Lady Gaga became a Christian. Think of the impact she could make for the kingdom of God.” On one level I understand the sentiments that are expressed here but I think there is a fundamental problem with it. The problem is that it implicitly removes God from the picture or fosters a view of God which limits him. These sentiments may be true if we accept the God of Open Theism but it is hardly worthy of the God of traditional theism. If Lewis had died during the war it would have been a loss but why should we think this loss could not have been gained via another member of the church at some other point in time. Surely Lady Gaga could make an impact for the church but God does not need Lady Gaga. God doesn’t need the platform of Hollywood to do his work. God makes his own platforms. He uses common everyday people to work in the lives of millions every day. That is to say he is already at work through all of us in ways that dwarf the impact of Lady Gaga and Lewis combined. Both John the Baptist and Jesus testified that God can use stones to do his will. (John 3:9; Luke 19:40) Any loss that we suffer as a result of a death was not intended for us to receive at the time. When the time is right God will raise up his people and gift them appropriately. The church need not fear the loss of any of its members nor envy the talents of the world. Our God is an inexhaustible treasure and the fount of all blessings to the church. When our eyes are fixed on him our fears are relieved and our envious thoughts banished. The remedy for “what if” theology is beholding the infinite and wondrous depths of our resplendent God.