C. S. Lewis: Perelandra

Perelandra the second book in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy I also rate very highly. I feel it was slightly more drawn out than necessary in its description of fictional plants and animal on Venus but otherwise a great book.

In the story the main character is sent by an angelic creature to Venus to prevent an agent sent by the devil from causing the Eve figure on Venus from committing sin. Without giving the just of the details away more than a typical back cover will, the agent of the devil uses subtle lies surrounded by truths to plant the seeds of dissent. The main character has to grapple with how defeat the devil’s lies and eventually has to grapple with the question of physical violence against the agent of evil to prevent them. It raises a good question as to when and how physical force can be used to prevent injury to the innocent.

The whole Space Trilogy brings to the mind the idea of life on other planets and how they would relate to Christ. Did life on all planets fall when our first parents did? Was all life on every planet redeemed when Christ died on the cross? What makes these questions hard to answer is the fact that it can be highly difficult to prove that anything in Church Councils had the intention to define in an absolute sense anything for the entire universe or just for our understanding of salvation on earth. Similarly, it can be difficult to debate the sense of the words world, heaven and creation in scripture.

With sin death entered the world. Does this mean all creation or just earth? Christ’s sacrifice redeemed all of creation. Does this mean all on earth? For surly we do not imply the angles needed to be redeemed, all of creation does not always mean the entire universe. It can be hard to prove any biblical author had more than just earth in mind.

St Thomas Aquinas in the Third Part Q3, Article 7 of the Summa argues that Christ could assume another human nature (or with a little use of the imagination an alien nature).

What has power for one thing, and no more, has a power limited to one. Now the power of a Divine Person is infinite, nor can it be limited by any created thing. Hence it may not be said that a Divine Person so assumed on human nature as to be unable to assume another. For it would seem to follow from this that the Personality of the Divine Nature was so comprehended by on human nature as to be unable to assume another to its Personality; and this is impossible, for the Uncreated cannot be comprehended by any creature. Hence it is plain that, whether we consider the Divine Person in regard to His power, which is the principle of the union, or in regard to His Personality, which is the term of the union, it has to be said that the Divine Person, over and beyond the human nature which He has assumed, can assume another distinct human nature.

This brings up another question. Could have Christ become incarnate to save a different alien race that had fallen? Is there spiritual knowledge we are lacking on earth?

In C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy the question of another incarnation is not addressed but the idea of new spiritual knowledge is. The main character discovers how certain angelic beings helped shape and form the planets. The creatures in the first book Out of the Silent Planet worship a “God” the same as those of Venus in Perelandra The creatures with superior intellect such as the archangelic beings the main character meets up with want to know about how God became incarnate on Earth. Both the main character and these beings assume that the God they worship individuality are the same.

There is a grave danger in this. How could one ever trust alien beings who claim to worship the same God? Aliens could claim to have other types of salvation histories on other planets all enacted through the same God.

The words of Saint Paul come to mind. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” Gal 1:8. Angles of light that appear to us are not always to be trusted.

Hence, although it is fun to enjoy a great novel by C.S. Lewis on allowable theories of interspatial salvation history it would be extremely dangerous in reality to entertain such possibilities. To entertain them would run the risk of starting to worship some false alien god pretending to be the one true God.

The only real possibility for integration of an interplanetary salvation model would be a direct teaching from the Pope as Vicar of Christ. If we know that the keys of Peter have the power to teach infallibly based upon our own tradition, then this and only this would be the key to being able to trust any interplanetary visitors who claim to have knowledge of salvation history not already known to us.


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