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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Contemplating Clive

Like most issues in Christianity, the popularity of CS Lewis is securely duct taped to a pendulum. Obviously, with the release of "Narnia," he will be back on the rise.

While I am not diminishing the fine work that the "Chronicles" are, I do wonder one thing:

What would we allow CS Lewis to do in our church?

Many would willingly turn the pulpit, sunday school, or the very least, their small group over to Lewis' control. There are good reasons for this:

1) Amazing Intellect--The man covered so many topics in a variety of genres. He could definitely make the group think.
2) Power of Allegory--But he would not lose people in lofty, intellectual jargin (unless he chose to). There is a practical side to his work that keeps it out of the clouds and is real and applicable.
3) Logic and Reasoning--His appeals were often made from logic and reasoning. He exposed the errors of differing worldviews by "taking them to their very end." He could make a person respect what he believed even if they weren't ready to accept it or willing to believe the Bible as true. If you have not used the classic "Liar, Lunatic, Lord" platform in a discussion, what are you waiting for?
4) Quick Witted--The man made some great and profound comments on the spot. My favorite: "I don't pray to change God. I pray to change me."

But before we slap on a WW"CSL"D bracelet, or start referring to him as "Jack" (as if we have a congenial relationship with him), let's consider some other things:

1) He believed (incidently, I doubt he still does) in Purgatory. My concern is not geographic (whether one exists or not) but more pragmatic (why does it need to exist). If, after my death, I still need a cleansing from sin, and my being disciplined for a time will accomplish said cleansing, what does that say of the work of the atonement?
2) He was really an inclusivist. This comes out in the "Chronicles," though not in the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe." He wasn't a universalist, but I think he saw the road to heaven as a bit wider than Scripture describes.
3) There tends to be a de-emphasis of Scripture. Scriptural quotes are infrequent. Even less frequent is any form of Scriptural exegesis. Granted, this often was due to his purpose in writing. While I am all for using logic, I really appreciate arguments that make there way back to "logos." I think you can do both, and just feel at times, he neglected the one.

Again, I'm not disqualifying "LLW" or "Screwtape Letters" or even "Mere Christianity" as good literary works. I even see that they have benefit to the Body of Christ. But I just wonder, what would you allow him to do if CS Lewis were still alive and chose to make your church his home? What wouldn't you let him do?


  • At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    You're critcizing Rick Warren and C. S. Lewis in the same blog? Don't you want to have any friends? Who's next, Billy Graham and Mother Teresa?

    By the way... your observations are essentially correct.

  • At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    one more thing.

    Could you provide a category in your links for "People I know and Don't Respect"

    Just curious.

  • At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Katie said…

    that is an interesting point. especially considering most all the comments i hear about C.S.L. are very good and i have very much enjoyed what i have read of his. i really don't know that much about purgatory as i only learned about it from watching "the others" but i would love to hear more about your view on these subjects.

  • At 11:30 PM, Blogger David said…

    I will give a more complete response to this Thursday, but first of all, I would like to request no one mention Rick Warren and C.S. Lewis in the same comment ever again. Ever.

  • At 6:04 PM, Anonymous lyndie said…

    i have a large amount of respect and appreciation for Lewis. His works have played a significant role in the maturation of my faith and hope. however, as i was finishing my most recent reading of C.O.N. series several months ago, the "theology" he alluded to in "the last battle" made me squirm a little and think twice. before that i would have been aghast at your criticism, but, as disappointed as i am, i've learned that even the greatest minds were not near as perfect as the mind of Christ. ~not that i ever thought any mere man's could be... you know what i mean.


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