will allow it to do so. What you have a right to ask is whether that management, if allowed to
take over, improves the concern. Everyone knows that what is being managed in Dick Firkin's
case is much "nicer" than what is being managed in Miss Bates's. That is not the point. To judge
the management of a factory, you must consider not only the output but the plant. Considering
the plant at Factory A it may be a wonder that it turns out anything at all; considering the first-
class outfit at Factory B its output, though high, may be a great deal lower than it ought to be. No
doubt the good manager at Factory A is going to put in new machinery as soon as he can, but
that takes time. In the meantime low output does not prove that he is a failure.
(3) And now, let us go a little deeper. The manager is going to put in new machinery: before
Christ has finished with Miss Bates, she is going to be very "nice" indeed. But if we left it at that,
it would sound as though Christ's only aim was to pull Miss Bates up to the same level on which
Dick had been all along. We have been talking, in fact, as if Dick were all right; as if Christianity
was something nasty people needed and nice ones could afford to do without; and as if niceness
was all that God demanded. But this would be a fatal mistake. The truth is that in God's eyes
Dick Firkin needs "saving" every bit as much as Miss Bates. In one sense (I will explain what
sense in a moment) niceness hardly comes into the question.
You cannot expect God to look at Dick's placid temper and friendly disposition exactly as we do.
They result from natural causes which God Himself creates. Being merely temperamental, they
will all disappear if Dick's digestion alters. The niceness, in fact, is God's gift to Dick, not Dick's
gift to God. In the same way, God has allowed natural causes, working in a world spoiled by
centuries of sin, to produce in Miss Bates the narrow mind and jangled nerves which account for
most of her nastiness. He intends, in His own good time, to set that part of her right. But that is
not, for God, the critical part of the business. It presents no difficulties. It is not what He is
anxious about. What He is watching and waiting and working for is something that is not easy
even for God, because, from the nature of the case, even He cannot produce it by a mere act of
power. He is waiting and watching for it both in Miss Bates and in Dick Firkin. It is something
they can freely give Him or freely refuse to Him. Will they, or will they not, turn to Him and
thus fulfil the only purpose for which they were created? Their free will is trembling inside them
like the needle of a compass. But this is a needle that can choose. It can point to its true North;
but it need not. Will the needle swing round, and settle, and point to God?
He can help it to do so. He cannot force it. He cannot, so to speak, put out His own hand and pull
it into the right position, for then it would not be free will any more. Will it point North? That is
the question on which all hangs. Will Miss Bates and Dick offer their natures to God? The
question whether the natures they offer or withhold are, at that moment, nice or nasty ones, is of
secondary importance. God can see to that part of the problem.
Do not misunderstand me. Of course God regards a nasty nature as a bad and deplorable thing.
And, of course, He regards a nice nature as a good thing-good like bread, or sunshine, or water.
But these are the good things which He gives and we receive. He created Dick's sound nerves
and good digestion, and there is plenty more where they came from. It costs God nothing, so far
as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion. And
because they are wills they can-in nice people just as much as in nasty ones-refuse His request.
And then, because that niceness in Dick was merely part of nature, it will all go to pieces in the
end. Nature herself will all pass away. Natural causes come together in Dick to make a pleasant
psychological pattern, just as they come together in a sunset to make a pleasant pattern of
colours. Presently (for that is how nature works) they will fall apart again and the pattern in both
cases will disappear. Dick has had the chance to turn (or rather, to allow God to turn) that
momentary pattern into the beauty of an eternal spirit: and he has not taken it.
There is a paradox here. As long as Dick does not turn to God, he thinks his niceness is his own,
and just as long as he thinks that, it is not his own. It is when Dick realises that his niceness is not
his own but a gift from God, and when he offers it back to God- it is just then that it begins to be
really his own. For now Dick is beginning to take a share in his own creation. The only things we
can keep are the things we freely give to God. What we try to keep for ourselves is just what we
are sure to lose.
We must, therefore, not be surprised if we find among the Christians some people who are still
nasty. There is even, when you come to think it over, a reason why nasty people might be
expected to turn to Christ in greater numbers than nice ones. That was what people objected to
about Christ during His life on earth: He seemed to attract "such awful people." That is what
people still object to, and always will. Do you not see why? Christ said '"Blessed are the poor"
and "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom," and no doubt He primarily meant the
economically rich and economically poor. But do not His words also apply to another kind of
riches and poverty? One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite
satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give and so fail to realise your need for God. If
everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every
moment totally dependent on God. Now quite plainly, natural gifts carry with them a similar
danger. If you have sound nerves and intelligence and health and popularity and a good
upbringing, you are likely to be quite satisfied with your character as it is. "Why drag God into
it?" you may ask. A certain level of good conduct comes fairly easily to you. You are not one of
those wretched creatures who are always being tripped up by sex, or dipsomania, or nervousness,
or bad temper. Everyone says you are a nice chap and (between ourselves) you agree with them.
You are quite likely to believe dial all this niceness is your own doing: and you may easily not
feel the need for any better kind of goodness. Often people who have all these natural kinds of
goodness cannot be brought to recognise their need for Christ at all until, one day, the natural
goodness lets them down and their self-satisfaction is shattered. In other words, it is hard for
those who are "rich" in this sense to enter the Kingdom.
It is very different for the nasty people-the little, low, timid, warped, thin-blooded, lonely people,
or the passionate, sensual, unbalanced people. If they make any attempt at goodness at all, they
learn, in double quick time, that they need help. It is Christ or nothing for them. It is taking up
the cross and following-or else despair. They are the lost sheep; He came specially to find them.
They are (in one very real and terrible sense) the "poor": He blessed diem. They are the "awful
set" he goes about with-and of course the Pharisees say still, as they said from the first, "If there
were anything in Christianity those people would not be Christians."
There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of us. If you are a nice person-
if virtue comes easily to you beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If
you mistake for your own merits what are really God's gifts to you through nature, and if you are
contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall
more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The Devil
was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a
But if you are a poor creature-poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar
jealousies and senseless quarrels-saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual
perversion-nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best
friends-do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He
knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day
(perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) he will fling it on the scrap-heap and
give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all-not least yourself: for you have learned
your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.)
"Niceness"-wholesome, integrated personality-is an excellent thing. We must try by every
medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power, to produce a world where as
many people as possible grow up "nice"; just as we must try to produce a world where all have
plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we
should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no
further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable
world-and might even be more difficult to save.
For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here
and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man
to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new
kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a
winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never
have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period,
while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on
the shoulders-no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings-may even give
it an awkward appearance.
But perhaps we have already spent too long on this question. If what you want is an argument
against Christianity (and I well remember how eagerly I looked for such arguments when I began
to be afraid it was true) you can easily find some stupid and unsatisfactory Christian and say, "So
there's your boasted new man! Give me the old kind." But if once you have begun to see that
Christianity is on other grounds probable, you will know in your heart that this is only evading
the issue. What can you ever really know of other people's souls-of their temptations, their
opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one
whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You
cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbours or memories of what you
have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to
remember it?) when the anaesthetic fog which we call "nature" or "the real world" fades away
and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and
11. The New Men
In the last chapter I compared Christ's work of making New Men to the process of turning a
horse into a winged creature. I used that extreme example in order to emphasise the point that it
is not mere improvement but Transformation. The nearest parallel to it in the world of nature is
to be found in the remarkable transformations we can make in insects by applying certain rays to
them. Some people think this is how Evolution worked. The alterations in creatures on which it
all depends may have been produced by rays coming from outer space. (Of course once the
alterations are there, what they call "Natural Selection" gets to work on them: i.e., the useful
alterations survive and the other ones get weeded out.)
Perhaps a modern man can understand the Christian idea best if he takes it in connection with
Evolution. Everyone now knows about Evolution (though, of course, some educated people
disbelieve it): everyone has been told that man has evolved from lower types of life.
Consequently, people often wonder "What is the next step? When is the thing beyond man going
to appear?" Imaginative writers try sometimes to picture this next step-the "Superman" as they
call him; but they usually only succeed in picturing someone a good deal nastier than man as we
know him and then try to make up for that by sticking on extra legs or arms. But supposing the
next step was to be something even more different from the earlier steps than they ever dreamed
of? And is it not very likely it would be? Thousands of centuries ago huge, very heavily
armoured creatures were evolved. If anyone had at that time been watching the course of
Evolution he would probably have expected that it was going to go on to heavier and heavier
armour. But he would have been wrong. The future had a card up its sleeve which nothing at that
time would have led him to expect. It was going to spring on him little, naked, unarmoured
animals which had better brains: and with those brains they were going to master the whole
planet. They were not merely going to have more power than the prehistoric monsters, they were
going to have a new kind of power. The next step was not only going to be different, but
different with a new kind of difference. The stream of Evolution was not going to flow on in the
direction in which he saw it flowing: it was in fact going to take a sharp bend.
Now it seems to me that most of the popular guesses at the Next Step are making just the same
sort of mistake. People see (or at any rate they think they see) men developing greater brains and
getting greater mastery over nature. And because they think the stream is flowing in that
direction, they imagine it will go on flowing in that direction. But I cannot help thinking that the
Next Step will be really new; it will go off in a direction you could never have dreamed of. It
would hardly be worth calling a New Step unless it did. I should expect not merely difference but
a new kind of difference. I should expect not merely change but a new method of producing the
change. Or, to make an Irish bull, I should expect the next stage in Evolution not to be a stage in
Evolution at all: should expect the Evolution itself as a method of producing change, will be
superseded. And finally, I should not be surprised if, when the thing happened, very few people
noticed that it was happening.
Now, if you care to talk in these terms, the Christian view is precisely that the Next Step has
already appeared. And it is really new. It is not a change from brainy men to brainier men: it is a
change that goes off in a totally different direction-a change from being creatures of God to
being sons of God. The first instance appeared in Palestine two thousand years ago. In a sense,
the change is not "Evolution" at all, because it is not something arising out of the natural process
of events but something coming into nature from outside. But that is what I should expect. We
arrived at our idea of "Evolution" from studying the past. If there are real novelties in store then
of course our idea, based on the past, will not really cover them. And in fact this New Step
differs from all previous ones not only in coming from outside nature but in several other ways
(1) It is not carried on by sexual reproduction. Need we be surprised at that? There was a time
before sex had appeared; development used to go on by different methods. Consequently, we
might have expected that there would come a time when sex disappeared, or else (which is what
is actually happening) a time when sex, though it continued to exist, ceased to be the main
channel of development.
(2) At the earlier stages living organisms have had either no choice or very little choice about
taking the new step. Progress was, in the main, something that happened to them, not something
that they did. But the new step, the step from being creatures to being sons, is voluntary. At least,
voluntary in one sense. It is not voluntary in the sense that we, of ourselves, could have chosen to
take it or could even have imagined it; but it is voluntary in the sense that when it is offered to us
we can refuse it. We can, if we please, shrink back: we can dig in our heels and let the new
Humanity go on without us.
(3) I have called Christ the "first instance" of the new man. But of course He is something much
more than that. He is not merely a new man, one specimen of the species, but the new man. He is
the origin and centre and life of all the new men. He came into the created universe, of His own
will, bringing with Him the Zoe, the new life. (I mean new to us, of course: in its own place Zoe
has existed for ever and ever.) And He transmits it not by heredity but by what I have called
"good infection." Everyone who gets it gets it by personal contact with Him. Other men become
"new" by being "in Him."
(4) This step is taken at a different speed from the previous ones. Compared with the
development of man on this planet, the diffusion of Christianity over the human race seems to go
like a flash of lightning-for two thousand years is almost nothing in the history of the universe.
(Never forget that we are all still "the early Christians." The present wicked and wasteful
divisions between us are, let us hope, a disease of infancy: we are still teething. The outer world,
no doubt, thinks just the opposite. It thinks we are dying of old age. But it has drought that so
often before! Again and again it has thought Christianity was dying, dying by persecutions from
without or corruptions from within, by the rise of Mohammedanism, the rise of the physical
sciences, the rise of great anti-Christian revolutionary movements. But every time the world has
been disappointed. Its first disappointment was over the crucifixion. The Man came to life again.
In a sense-and I quite realise how frightfully unfair it must seem to them-that has been happening
ever since. They keep on killing the thing that He started: and each time, just as they are patting
down the earth on its grave, they suddenly hear that it is still alive and has even broken out in
some new place. No wonder they hate us.)
(5) The stakes are higher. By falling back at the earlier steps a creature lost, at the worst, its few
years of life on this earth: very often it did not lose even that. By falling back at this step we lose
a prize which is (in the strictest sense of the word) infinite. For now the critical moment has
arrived. Century by century God has guided nature up to the point of producing creatures which
can (if they will) be taken right out of nature, turned into "gods." Will they allow themselves to
be taken? In a way, it is like the crisis of birth. Until we rise and follow Christ we are still parts
of Nature, still in the womb of our great mother. Her pregnancy has been long and painful and
anxious, but it has reached its climax. The great moment has come. Everything is ready. The
Doctor has arrived. Will the birth "go off all right"? But of course it differs from an ordinary
birth in one important respect. In an ordinary birth the baby has not much choice: here it has. I
wonder what an ordinary baby would do if it had the choice. It might prefer to stay in the dark
and warmth and safety of the womb. For of course it would think the womb meant safety. That
would be just where it was wrong; for if it stays there it will die.
On this view the thing has happened: the new step has been taken and is being taken. Already the
new men are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly
recognisable: but others can be recognised. Every now and then one meets them. Their very
voices and faces are different from ours; stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin
where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognisable; but you must know what to look for.
They will not be very like the idea of "religious people" which you have formed from your
general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think that you are being
kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but
they need you less. (We must get over wanting to be needed: in some goodish people, specially
women, that is the hardest of all temptations to resist.) They will usually seem to have a lot of
time: you will wonder where it comes from. When you have recognised one of them, you will
recognise the next one much more easily. And I strongly suspect (but how should I know?) that
they recognise one another immediately and infallibly, across every barrier of colour, sex, class,
age, and even of creeds. In that way, to become holy is rather like joining a secret society. To put
it at the very lowest, it must be great fun.
But you must not imagine that the new men are, in the ordinary sense, all alike. A good deal of
what I have been saying in this last book might make you suppose that that was bound to be so.
To become new men means losing what we now call "ourselves." Out of ourselves, into Christ,
we must go. His will is to become ours and we are to think His thoughts, to "have the mind of
Christ" as the Bible says. And if Christ is one, and if He is thus to be "in" us all, shall we not be
exactly the same? It certainly sounds like it; but in fact it is not so.
It is difficult here to get a good illustration; because, of course, no other two things are related to
each other just as the Creator is related to one of His creatures. But I will try two very imperfect
illustrations which may give a hint of the truth. Imagine a lot of people who have always lived in
the dark. You come and try to describe to them what light is like. You might tell them that if they
come into the light that same light would fall on them all and they would all reflect it and thus
become what we call visible. Is it not quite possible that they would imagine that, since they
were all receiving the same light, and all reacting to it in the same way (i.e., all reflecting it), they
would all look alike? Whereas you and I know that the light will in fact bring out, or show up,
how different they are. Or again, suppose a person who knew nothing about salt. You give him a
pinch to taste and he experiences a particular strong, sharp taste. You then tell him that in your
country people use salt in all their cookery. Might he not reply "In that case I suppose all your
dishes taste exactly the same: because the taste of that stuff you have just given me is so strong
that it will kill the taste of everything else." But you and I know that the real effect of salt is
exactly the opposite. So far from killing the taste of the egg and the tripe and the cabbage, it
actually brings it out. They do not show their real taste till you have added the salt. (Of course, as
I warned you, this is not really a very good illustration, because you can, after all, kill the other
tastes by putting in too much salt, whereas you cannot kill the taste of a human personality by
putting in too much Christ. I am doing the best I can.)
It is something like that with Christ and us. The more we get what we now call "ourselves" out of
the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him
that millions and millions of "little Christs," all different, will still be too few to express Him
fully. He made them all. He invented-as an author invents characters in a novel-all the different
men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him.
It is no good trying to "be myself" without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my
own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and
natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call "Myself" becomes merely the meeting place for
trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop. What I call "My wishes" become
merely the desires thrown up by my physical organism or pumped into me by other men's
thoughts or even suggested to me by devils. Eggs and alcohol and a good night's sleep will be the
real origins of what I flatter myself by regarding as my own highly personal and discriminating
decision to make love to the girl opposite to me in the railway carriage. Propaganda will be the
real origin of what I regard as my own personal political ideals, I am not, in my natural state,
nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call "me" can be very easily
explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin
to have a real personality of my own. At the beginning I said there were Personalities in God. I
will go further now. There are no real personalities anywhere else. Until you have given up your
self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most "natural"
men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and
conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.
But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away "blindly" so to speak.
Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As
long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all.
The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is
Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking
for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle
holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good
impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are
making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original:
whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told
before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The
principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up your self, and you will find your real
self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite
wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your
being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away
will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.
Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin,
and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
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