A Fresh Start by CS Lewis

Now before  I  became a Christian I was  under  the impression that the
first thing Christians had  to believe was one particular theory as  to what
the point of this  dying was. According to that  theory God wanted to punish
men for having  deserted and  joined the Great Rebel, but Christ volunteered
to be punished instead, and so  God let us off.  Now  I admit that even this
theory  does not seem to me quite so immoral and so silly as it used to; but
that is not the point  I want  to make. What I came to see later on was that
neither  this theory  nor any  other  is Christianity. The central Christian
belief is that Christ's death has somehow put us right with God and given us
a fresh start Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many
different theories have  been held as to  how it  works; what all Christians
are agreed on is that it does work. I will tell you what I think it is like.
All sensible people know that if you are tired and hungry a meal will do you
good. But  the  modern theory  of  nourishment-all  about  the  vitamins and
proteins-is a different thing. People ate their dinners and felt better long
before  the theory  of  vitamins was ever  heard of:  and  if the  theory of
vitamins is some day abandoned they will go on eating their dinners just the
same.  Theories  about   Christ's  death  are  not  Christianity:  they  are
explanations  about how it works.  Christians would not all agree as  to how
important these theories  are. My own  church-the Church of England-does not
lay down any one of  them as  the right one.  The Church  of Rome goes a bit
further. But I think they will all agree that the thing itself is infinitely
more important than any explanations that theologians have produced. I think
they would probably admit that no explanation will ever be quite adequate to
the reality. But as I said in the preface  to this book, I am only a layman,
and at  this point we are getting into  deep water. I can only tell you, for
what it is worth, how I, personally, look at the matter.