CS Lewis is a theologan I admire. If you haven't read The Screwtape Letters, I highly reccomend them.
The (obviously) fictitious book is a collection of letters from a Senior Demon in hell (Screwtape), to a younger Demon, Wormwood, who has been deployed to Earth and assigned a "Patient", or a man, whom Wormwood is supposed to keep from Christianity.
In the letters, The Lord is referred to as "The Enemy"... The bible is referred to as a "biography", and the gospels as "Documents". All this recent talk of denominations reminded me of letter 23, in which Screwtape coached Wormwood about how to distract "the patient" with questions about the "true biography of Jesus". Then he finishes it off with how then to work the political angle, or which denomination is the "True Church".
He encourages Wormwood to view a church he is attending as "besides being unhistorical in the Jesus it depicts, religion of this kind is false to history in another sense. No nation, and few individuals, are really brought into the Enemy’s camp by the historical study of the biography of Jesus, simply as biography. Indeed materials for a full biography have been withheld from men. The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact (the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine (the Redemption) operating on a sense of sin which they already had—and sin, not against some new fancy-dress law produced as a novelty by a “great man”, but against the old, platitudinous, universal moral law which they had been taught by their nurses and mothers. The “Gospels”, come later and were written not to make Christians but to edify Christians already made.
The “Historical Jesus” then, however dangerous he may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged. About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that “only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations”. You see the little rift ? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.”
That’s the game,
Your affectionate uncle
I enjoy CS Lewis as a fiction writer... even if his theology is unbiblical... I don't believe he was ever truly Born-again, based on his lifestyle and his beliefs... he taught a different Jesus than the Jesus of the Bible... the following article is from David Cloud:
WAS C.S. LEWIS A STRONG BIBLE BELIEVER?
By no means, as even Christianity Today admits. “Clive Staples Lewis was anything but a classic evangelical, socially or theologically. He smoked cigarettes and a pipe, and he regularly visited pubs to drink beer with friends. Though he shared basic Christian beliefs with evangelicals, he didn’t subscribe to biblical inerrancy or penal substitution. He believed in purgatory and baptismal regeneration” (“C.S. Lewis Superstar,” Christianity Today, Dec. 2005).
Lewis believed in prayers for the dead. In Letters to Malcolm, he wrote, “Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable... And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden” (p. 109).
He believed in purgatory. In Letters to Malcolm, he wrote” “I believe in Purgatory... Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they?” (pp. 110-111). Lewis confessed his sins regularly to a priest and was given the Catholic sacrament of last rites on July 16, 1963 (Roger Lancelyn Green and Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis: A Biography, 1974, pp. 198, 301).
Lewis denied the total depravity of man and the substitutionary blood atonement of Christ. He believed in theistic evolution and rejected the Bible as the infallible Word of God. He taught that hell is a state of mind: “And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind--is, in the end, Hell” (Lewis, The Great Divorce, p. 65).
Lewis lived for 30 years with Janie Moore, a woman 25 years his senior to whom he was not married. The relationship with the married woman began when Lewis was still a student at Oxford. Moore was separated from her husband. Lewis confessed to his brother Arthur that he was in love with Mrs. Moore, the mother of one of his friends who was killed in World War I. The relationship was definitely sexual in nature. See Alan Jacobs, The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis, pp. 82, 94.
At age 58, Lewis married Joy Gresham, an American woman who pursued a relationship with Lewis even while she was still married to another man. According to two of Lewis’s friends, Gresham’s husband divorced her on the grounds of desertion (Roger Lancelyn Green & Walter Hooper, Light on C.S. Lewis), though he, in turn, married Joy’s cousin.
Lewis never gave up his unholy fascination with paganism. On a visit to Greece with his wife in 1960, Lewis made the following strange, unbiblical statement:
“I had some ado to prevent Joy (and myself) from lapsing into paganism in Attica! AT DAPHNI IT WAS HARD NOT TO PRAY TO APOLLO THE HEALER. BUT SOMEHOW ONE DIDN’T FEEL IT WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY WRONG--WOULD HAVE ONLY BEEN ADDRESSING CHRIST SUB SPECIE APOLLONIUS” (C.S. Lewis to Chad Walsh, May 23, 1960, cited from George Sayer, Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis, 1994, p. 378).
What a blasphemous statement! Christ is not worshipped under the image of pagan gods. And we must remember that this was written at the end of Lewis’ life, and long after his “conversion” to Christ.
Lewis claimed that followers of pagan religions can be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ: “There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it... Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco edition, 2001, pp. 64, 208, 209).
Lewis believed that Jonah and Job were not historical books. In his article “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism,” Lewis said: “... Jonah, a tale with as few even pretended historical attachments as Job, grotesque in incident and surely not without a distinct, though of course edifying, vein of typically Jewish humor” (“Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism,” Christian Reflections, edited by Walter Hooper, Eerdmans).
Lewis was a Christian of the Anglican type. Note that I say that he was a Christian of the Anglican type. Not an Anglican of the Christian type. He was a Christian first who was influenced by his Church. He grew up in the Anglican Church and he believed and practiced as an Anglican Christian, not a Baptists or old Methodist.
And I seriously doubt that he sincerely believed in Purgatory or prayers for the dead. We all, when having lost a loved one, do more than kick dirt in the grave. We pray, even if we say that we "hope" that our loved one is in Heaven. There is no evidence that he requested Masses or lit candles for the dead. Lewis' faith was pretty much defined by the old 39 Articles of Faith presented in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
Once Lewis became a Christian he ended his relationship with the mother of his friend. And the reason that he married Joy Gresham was to allow her to stay in Great Britain. Their intimacy came after her divorce from her husband.
Lewis' idea that pagans and pre-New Testament Jews were saved is no new thing, nor is it a non-fundamentalist thing. How was Moses saved? Through works? Or David or Isaiah? Through works? Or were they saved through Christ? Salvation comes through Christ alone and God through Christ choses who he will or will not save. This is not universalism. It is the realization that there are those who have never heard of Christ by ear or eye may have Christ in them. Were all those who had never heard the Gospel before they heard the Gospel lost to Hell?
Lewis smoked and drank alcohol. So what? Calvin, Luther, Wesley and Whitfield all drank wine or ale. Jonathon Edwards and Charles Spurgeon smoked tobacco. The sin is not the act, but slavery to the act.
A personal testimony of faith is an American idea that began during the Second Great Revival. One's behaviour is a better testimony than a speech at church. Words are cheap. Actions are currency.
Lewis was not a Christian of the Calvary Chapel or Vineyard Fellowship type. But he was a Protestant and a Christian.
I would add that one should be careful of anything written my Walter Hooper about Lewis' faith. Hooper has made a career of trying to make Lewis a Roman Catholic and was even even published a novel that he claimed was written by Lewis (The Dark Tower) when, in fact, the novel was written by Hooper based on Lewis' outline note. Refer to the writings of the late Karen Lindskoog concerning this.
Excellent post, Dave! Thank you for taking the time to put it up.
Today I consulted my pastor about the Christian-ness of Lewis. My pastor, and I, are Primitive Baptists which means to a lot of the Evangelical world that we are Hard-shells. And my pastor was of the opinion that Lewis was truly a Christian, and while my pastor is not the end all and be all of opinion concerning the Faith he did study at Biola and occasionally teaches at California Baptist College.
The definition of who is a Christian is, strangely, both broader and more narrow than what we usually think.
LEWIS NEVER GAVE A CLEAR BIBLICAL TESTIMONY OF THE NEW BIRTH AND SAID THAT FAITH IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST IS UNNECESSARY
C.S. Lewis went to some length to describe his views of salvation in Mere Christianity and in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy. In neither book did he give a clear biblical testimony of the new birth.
As for faith in the blood of Christ, Lewis said that it is not an essential part of Christianity. He taught that it does not matter how one defines the atonement, and he himself did not believe in the substitutionary blood atonement. In Mere Christianity he made the following statement:
“You can say that Christ died for our sins. You may say that the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true. IF ANY OF THEM DO NOT APPEAL TO YOU, LEAVE IT ALONE AND GET ON WITH THE FORMULA THAT DOES. And, whatever you do, do not start quarrelling with other people because they use a different formula from yours” (Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco edition, 2001, p. 182).
This is rank heresy. Lewis wrongly claimed that it does not matter if a person believes that he is washed in Christ’s blood, that this is a mere “formula” that can be accepted or rejected at one’s pleasure. He said that it is just as well to believe that “the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done.” That is a bloodless salvation through Christ’s life rather than through His Cross, which, according to the Bible is no salvation at all. The “blood” is mentioned more than 90 times in the New Testament, and that is no accident. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). If Jesus had lived a perfect life in our place and died a bloodless death in our place, we would not be saved.
Lewis said, “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. ... Any theories we build up as to how Christ’s death did all of this are, in my view, quite secondary...” (Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco edition, 2001, pp. 54, 55, 56).
This is unscriptural teaching. God has revealed exactly what Christ did and what the atonement means. It is not a matter of theorizing or believing one “formula” over against another. The Bible says our salvation is a matter of a propitiation, a ransom, whereby our sins were washed away by Christ’s bloody death, which was offered as a payment to satisfy God’s holy Law.
Lewis never mentions the doctrine of propitiation, but propitiation was a necessary part of our salvation and the propitiation was made by blood. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3:25). Propitiation means satisfaction; covering; the fulfillment of a demand. It refers to God’s estimation of Christ’s sacrifice. God is fully satisfied by what Jesus Christ did on the Cross. The penalty for His broken law by man’s sin has been fully satisfied (Rom. 3:24-25; 1 Jn. 2:2; Heb. 2:17; Isa. 5:11). The Greek word translated “propitiation” in Rom. 3:25 is also translated “mercy seat” in Heb. 9:5. The mercy seat perfectly covered the law which was contained in the Ark (Ex. 25:17, 21). This symbolizes propitiation--Christ covering the demands of God’s law. That it is the blood of Christ which satisfied this demand and put away our sins was depicted on the Day of Atonement when blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat by the high priest (Lev. 16:11-17).
Through Christ’s blood we have eternal redemption. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12).
Through Christ’s blood we can enter into the presence of God. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19).
This is not a theory or a formula. It is the Word of God, and if one does not like it or believe it, he cannot be saved.
In Mere Christianity, Lewis claims that the Christ-life is spread to men through baptism, belief, and the Lord’s Supper. This is a false gospel of faith plus works. He says, “There are three things that spread the Christ-life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names--Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper. ... I am not saying anything about which of these things is the most essential. My Methodist friend would like me to say more about belief and less (in proportion) about the other two. But I am not going into that” (Mere Christianity, p. 61). [Note that he includes the Catholic Mass in his list of the various names by which holy communion are known, failing to acknowledge to his readers that the Mass is an entirely different thing than the simple Lord’s Supper of the New Testament.]
It is not a Methodist we should listen to but the Bible itself, and the Bible says that salvation is by the grace of Christ alone through faith in Christ alone without works, that works are important but they follow after salvation and are the product of salvation rather than the means of it. The difference between saying that salvation is by faith without works and that works follow... and saying that salvation is by faith with works or faith plus works is the difference between a true gospel and a false one. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).
I have read several of C.S. Lewis’s books and dozens of his articles and several biographies about him, and I have never seen a clear teaching on the new birth or a clear biblical testimony that he was born again. This should be cause for the deepest concern.
WHY IS LEWIS SO POPULAR WITH EVANGELICALS TODAY?
In light of his lack of clear scriptural salvation testimony, his heresies, his worldliness, and the massive pagan influences in his work, why are evangelicals today so enamored with C.S. Lewis? I believe the following are some of the chief reasons:
FIRST, NEW EVANGELICALS LOVE C.S. LEWIS BECAUSE THEY ARE CHARACTERIZED BY A PRIDE OF INTELLECT AND LEWIS WAS DEFINITELY AN INTELLECTUAL. He had almost a photographic memory and had a triple first at Oxford in Philosophy, Classics, and English. He was one of the greatest experts of that day in English literature and occupied the first Chair in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. Since New Evangelicals almost worship intellectualism (a spirit that the late David Otis Fuller called “scholarolatry”), it is no surprise that they would look upon the famous intellectual C.S. Lewis as a patron saint.
SECOND, NEW EVANGELICALS LOVE C.S. LEWIS BECAUSE OF HIS ECUMENICAL THINKING AND HIS REFUSAL TO PRACTICE SEPARATION. This has been admitted by Christianity Today. “Lewis’s … concentration on the main doctrines of the church coincided with evangelicals’ concern to avoid ecclesiastical separatism” (Christianity Today, Oct. 25, 1993). CT therefore admits that C.S. Lewis is popular to Evangelicals today because, like them, he despised biblical separation.
C.S. Lewis was, in fact, very ecumenical. The following is an overview of his ecumenical philosophy and his influence on present-day ecumenical movement:
“Lewis was firmly ecumenical, though he distanced himself from outright liberalism. In his preface to Mere Christianity, Lewis states that his aim is to present ‘an agreed, or common, or central or mere Christianity.’ So he aims to concentrate on the doctrines that he believes are common to all forms of Christianity--including Roman Catholicism. It is no surprise that he submitted parts of the book to four clergymen for criticism--an Anglican, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, and a Roman Catholic! He hopes that the book will make it clear why all Christians ‘ought to be reunited,’ but warns that it should not be seen as an alternative to the creeds of existing denominations. He likens the ‘mere Christianity’ that he describes in the book to a hall from which various rooms lead off. These rooms are the various Christian traditions. And just as when you enter a house you do not stay in the hall but enter a room, so when you become a Christian you should join a particular Christian tradition.
“Mention should also be made of Lewis’ views of the sacraments. The sacraments ‘spread the Christ life to us’ (Mere Christianity, book 2, chapter 5). In his Letters to Malcolm Lewis states that he does not want to ‘unsettle in the mind of any Christian, whatever his denomination, the concepts--for him traditional--by which he finds it profitable to represent to himself what is happening when he receives the bread and wine’ of the Lord’s Supper. What happens in the Lord’s Supper is a mystery, and so the Roman Catholic conception of the bread and wine becoming the actual body and blood of Christ might be just as valid as the Protestant view of the Lord’s Supper as a memorial (Letters to Malcolm, chapter 19). ...
“In March 1994 the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement produced its first document. This was a programatic document entitled Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium. It was rightly said at the time that this document represented ‘a betrayal of the Reformation.’ I saw no connection between this and C.S. Lewis until a couple of years later when the symposium Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Working Towards a Common Mission was published. In his contribution to the book, Charles Colson--the Evangelical ‘prime mover’ behind ECT--tells us that C.S. Lewis was a major influence which led him to form the movement (Billy Graham was another!). In fact Colson says that Evangelicals and Catholics Together seeks to continue the legacy of C.S. Lewis by focusing on the core beliefs of all true Christians (Common Mission, p. 36).
If it is true to say that ‘you are what you eat,’ then it is also true to say that ‘a Christian is what he hears and reads’ since this is how he gets his spiritual food. Thus if Christians are brought up on a diet of C.S. Lewis, it should not surprise us to find they are seeking ‘to continue the legacy of C.S. Lewis.’ The apostle Paul said, ‘A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump’ (Gal. 5:9--the whole passage is relevant to the present context); thus IF EVANGELICALS READ AND APPLAUD SUCH BOOKS AS MERE CHRISTIANITY IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE IF WE FIND THEM ‘WORKING TOWARDS A COMMON MISSION’ WITH THE ENEMIES OF THE GOSPEL. THE YOUNG CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT HE READS, AND THOSE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY (PASTORS, TEACHERS, PARENTS) SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT THEY RECOMMEND OTHERS TO READ” (Dr. Tony Baxter, “The Enigma of C.S. Lewis,” CRN Journal, Winter 1998, Christian Research Network, Colchester, United Kingdom, p. 30; Baxter works for the Protestant Truth Society as a Wycliffe Preacher).
In April 1998, Mormon professor Robert Millet spoke at Wheaton College on the topic of C.S. Lewis. In a recent issue of Christianity Today, Millet, dean of Brigham Young University, is quoted as saying that C.S. Lewis “is so well received by Latter-day Saints [Mormons] because of his broad and inclusive vision of Christianity” (John W. Kennedy, “Southern Baptists Take Up the Mormon Challenge,” Christianity Today, June 15, 1998, p. 30).
THIRD, NEW EVANGELICALS LOVE C.S. LEWIS BECAUSE OF THEIR SHARED FASCINATION FOR OR AND SYMPATHY WITH ROME. Today’s evangelicals have given us “Evangelicals and Rome Together” and even those who do not go that far usually speak of Rome’s errors in soft, congenial terms rather than labeling it the blasphemous, antichrist institution that it is and that Protestants and Baptists of old plainly called it. As we have seen, C.S. Lewis considered the Roman Catholic Church one of the acceptable “rooms” in the house of Christianity and longed for unity between Protestantism and Romanism. Lewis believed in prayers to the dead and purgatory.
Some of Lewis’s closest friends were Roman Catholics. J.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame is one example. Tolkien and Lewis were very close and spent countless hours together. Lewis credited Tolkien with having a large role in his “conversion.”
Lewis carried on a warm correspondence in Latin with Catholic priest Don Giovanni Calabria of Italy over their shared “concern for the reunification of the Christian churches” (The Narnian, Alan Jacobs, pp. 249, 250). Calabria was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
From the 1940s to the end of his life, Lewis’s spiritual advisor was a Catholic priest named Walter Adams (The Narnian, p. 224). It was to this priest that Lewis confessed his sins.
Lewis was born in Belfast, in sectarian Northern Ireland, so he was raised anti-Catholic like most Protestant children there. He was a man of his background but HIS VIEWS WERE VERY CATHOLIC: HE BELIEVED IN PURGATORY, BELIEVED IN THE SACRAMENTS, WENT TO CONFESSION” (“The Subtle Magic of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia: Michael Coren’s Perspective as the New Movie Looms,” Zenit, Dec. 7, 2005).
Do you routinely just copy other people's website content?
Do you even read what you are posting?
As I said before at the beginning of the first part of three from the same article:
"the following article is from David Cloud:"
Yes I read the article, and I edited it for brevity as well...
In the future, I recommend the following tactic.
1. Read the original post - then make sure that your response is more or less dealing with the subject. In this case, it is a hypothetical argument presented in a work of fiction, regarding the problems of multiple denominations, and of the mindset around "my christianity is better than your christianity." - something which your response detailing why C.S. Lewis is a bad christian (essentially) - is mostly immaterial at best, and at worst, just proves his point.
2. If after reading the post, and deciding that a long article from somewhere else is the right response, I recommend you link the article, then summarize what you think the top 3-5 salient points are, and why they are relevant.
I read an interesting article on X website by James M. Anybody - link here.
I think his primary points regarding the XXXXX of Antioch (citation) and XXXXXX of Murdoch, really address your problem reconciling the two - because of this neat detail XXXX. Other places to look for discussion and research on the topic might be in XXXXXX by Some OtherExpert.
This helps indicate that you have something of value to add, not that you are parroting someone else's thinking without knowing the context or appropriate usage. This also helps us decide where best to spend our reading time (and is a nice courtesy in a large community like this).
It also minimizes potential copyright lawsuits.
All the best.
Good advice on ettiquite... thank you Liam
1. As I said before, I did read the article, and it has everything to with the subject at hand... Lewis' complaint is like so many others here, in that "why can't we all just get go along to get along...?" David Cloud's article discusses that issue in depth, as to the importance of discernment between Biblical Christianity and apostate versions who hold their tradition to be of greater weight than the Bible... which is just as true for Anglicans as it is for Catholics... John posted this discussion to discuss denominational differences as a tool of demons to divide the body of Christ, and quoted a loooooong excerpt from a CS Lewis' fictional book to support his ecumenical stance... without much of an analysis of his own...
I believe that those other Traditions (denominations) aren't actually Bible based, and are counterfeit Christianity at best, even if they do get a few doctrinal things right ... The Law of Non-Contradiction when applied to Religion means that since there are fundamental differences in doctrine, they can't ALL be right, and I am okay with the idea that either one is right or none are right... I choose to believe that one is right, based on whether or not the denomination lines up with the Bible... If my interpretation of the Bible doesn't line up with the Bible, then I am wrong too, and am grateful when someone brings that to my attention... There were many Bible-based Christians in England at the time when he was alive, so it is not a phenomena that is exclusive to the US... if Lewis was truly-born again (not whether or not he was a bad Christian... all Christians are bad Christians) he would have had more discernment than evidenced in his writings and lifestyle...
2. I wanted to wait to hear others' responses to the article posted before I gave my analysis, so folks would respond to that and not me... Liam thinks I am insane anyway, as he has stated in times past, so I figured it would be worth citing another Independent Baptist who's ministry focuses on discernment...
As far as copyright lawsuits go, David Cloud has many books and teachings on his website for free, and encourages them to be shared... I gave credit where credit is due, with a link back to his website.
...freely ye have received, freely give.