Contend Earnestly: Guess Who? Oh no you didn't!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Guess Who? Oh no you didn't!

I am going to play a guessing game. I going to list some quotes from a very notable Christian that most respect and adhere to his writings. I have to be completely honest, I have never read any of his books. When I told some at my church that I had never read any of his books it as though I told them that I sell crack on the weekends. Read the quotes and then ask yourself, “Would I read anything from someone who held to these views?” Or “Would I have respect of this person as an apologist of the Christian faith?” So, here are the quotes see if you can guess who it is...

1. If by saying that man rose from brutality you mean simply that man is physically descended from animals, I have no objections…. For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumbs could be applied to each of its fingers, and jaws and teeth and the throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all material motions whereby rational thought is
incarnated. The creature may have existed for ages in this state before it became man…. We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state.

2. “I disbelieve that doctrine [total depravity], partly on the logical ground that if our depravity were total we should not know ourselves to be depraved and partly because experience shows us much good in human nature.”

When speaking of the fall:

3. “I have the deepest respect even for Pagan myths, still more for myths in Holy Scripture…. What exactly happened when Man fell, we do not know; but if it is legitimate to guess, I offer the following picture – a ‘myth’ in the Socratic sense, a not unlikely tale”

What about eternal security:

4. “There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians…. A Christian can lose the Christ-life which has been put into him, and he has to make efforts to keep it.”

As far as salvation:

5. “Though all salvation is through Jesus, we need not conclude that He cannot save those who have not explicitly accepted Him in this life.”

6. 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. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position.

Any guesses? No it’s not Billy Graham, although not far from what he told Larry King, you can read that here.

It’s C.S. Lewis…

So we see that he believed in evolution, did not believe in total depravity, believed that the Fall was a myth (as he did with other OT stories), thought Christians could lose their salvation, and was as inclusivist of other religions leading to God, not just Christ (John 14:6).

Are you saying to yourself, “Yeah, but this is C.S. Lewis!”

Martin Lloyd Jones, as far back as 1963 even warned of Lewis’ views of salvation. We must be careful, as the Bereans, when they tested the Scriptures to make sure that what the apostles were saying was true. (Acts 17:10,11) Just because C.S. Lewis has written many “great” books that are accepted on a widespread basis, we cannot just accept what he teaches, but must examine his writings. I would contend that I will never read what he has to say nor will I allow my children. I would also contend that the Bereans would have turned a deaf ear to his teachings as well. It is also one more reason to know that we should leave parables and metaphors to Christ alone and the Scriptures alone.

Most of this post was taken from an article written by Gary E. Gilley. You can also get all the end notes from the quotes used in this article there.


Anonymous said...

Yes Lewis is a writer not a theologian. His theology has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Seth, did you see me question in the last post? I was wondering how you changed the header on your blog? It looks good.

Seth McBee said...

sorry about that...

Are you in beta blogger? Here is how I found out how to do it...

thanks for the encouragement.

Justin Evans said...


I had heard that Lewis had some "issues", but I had no idea to what extent. I look back on my time reading "Mere Christianity", and am embarrassed to think how much I enjoyed that book. May God give us wisdom in all we do and read (James 1:5-8).

Well written article.

Anonymous said...

"I would contend that I will never read what he has to say nor will I allow my children."

You have liberty to do so, of course, but you will rob yourself of a great deal of benefit. And, this seems very odd for a man who by his own lights has no difficulty identifying the things in Lewis with which he disagrees!

Lewis' value does not arise from his having gotten it right at every point. If that is the standard you apply, you'd better chuck every Christian writer of the past two millennia. Nor does Lewis set himself up as a teacher of the Church. In most of his lapses, he is making concession to those he deems better able to judge matters which he feels no competence to judge.

Others, of course, have dealt at length with Lewis' use of the term "myth," which is not what you ordinarily mean by the term, which includes the element of "fiction." As to "those who have not explicitly accepted Him in this life,” I am curious -- do you believe that infants who die are ipso facto damned, as they have not explicitly accepted Christ in this life?

Seth McBee said...

Fr. Bill, Good to hear from you as always...

As far as writers go I try to align my readings with people I agree with theologically. This does not mean that I will not purposely go and read an author I know disagrees with some of my convictions but it is done so on purpose to "get their side." As far as "reading to learn" or "reading to grow spiritually" though I try and stick with those who I feel hold to my same convictions or at least close to them on the "essentials." I don't feel as though C.S. Lewis does this.

As far as your question on "do babies go to heaven" (better articulated in your question) I will answer but also ask you your reason for asking. I lean with King David in his conviction in 1 Samuel 12:23 where he believed his departed son was going to heaven. Would I "fight" for this stance? Not at all as the Bible is silent on this subject from my studies.

As far as C.S. Lewis is concerned though that is not his reasoning for that statement on being inclusive. He is making a statement of mature persons in their other religions being able to attain heaven by another means than Christ's atonement. He is not talking of babies here.

Fr. Bill...thanks as always for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

As far as writers go I try to align my readings with people I agree with theologically.

Interesting. My cradle faith was rather the opposite -- to read those whose theology did not agree with the one I was being taught was "correct." This continued in seminary when a couple of my professors insisted we read everyone who was a significant exponent of competing viewpoints to the one we were contending for. Perhaps this is why those portions of Lewis that tend to stray off the reservation don't particularly bother me.

As far as your question on "do babies go to heaven" (better articulated in your question) I will answer but also ask you your reason for asking.

I asked of this point which you presented as Lewis' idea, and with which I understood you to think was erroneous:

5. “Though all salvation is through Jesus, we need not conclude that He cannot save those who have not explicitly accepted Him in this life.”

Unraveling all the double negatives (expressed and implied), I supposed you to think that it was NOT possible for someone to be saved who had not explicitly accepted Jesus in this life. If that is, indeed, your conviction, I was curious if you thought an infant who died quickly after his birth were damned, because he could not have "explicitly received Christ" in his very short life.

It seems to me that if you envision any dead infant as being "saved" in any bona fide sense (i.e. saved from eternal damnation) the economy of that salvation must operate rather differently than it would for an adult.

And, as long as I'm straying this far into murky territory, I'll admit that I've always been puzzled by Calvinists who object to opere operato as far as baptism is concerned. Why insist on God's absolute sovereignty, unconditioned by any human choice, in election and deny this very thing (i.e. His absolute sovereignty) in baptism? It would appear to me that the Roman view of baptism is the ultimate in Calvinistic monergism, confering salvation utterly independent from the creature's choice!

But, back to Lewis ... did I misunderstand your disagreement with Lewis here?

Yes, I know he was not talking about babies, but what he said would be true with a vengeance for dying babies. Hence my question.

Seth McBee said...

Fr. Bill
Notice that I did say that I don't exclusively read only those who adhere to my convictions, but will read those who contradict to get a total view of a subject.

also, as far as your question is concerned with Lewis and my disagreement; I do believe that there is a difference between babies and those who understand, so to speak, the Gospel and reject it. Those who believe in something other than the blood of Christ can save them. Again, I would not die on a hill for this, as my only reference to this is found in 1 Samuel 12:23.

As far as opere operato, I want to make sure that I give you a correct answer in this. As a Calvinist I do believe that all those whom the Father gives Christ, will come and will be raised up (John 6:37-44) because of God's foreknowledge and choosing of them in eternity past. I do not however believe that the elect are saved until repentance, but all those who are elect will be saved so it is just a matter of time, so to speak. Our time and God's eternity are separable here.

You say that salvation is independant from the creature's choice, which is a bad misrepresentation of Calvinism. We do not believe that is goes against the person to be saved, they are not taken kicking and screaming, but must be regenerated before they can believe by the quickening of the Holy Spirit, when that faith is given them (Phil 1:27) they will believe, and they will WANT to believe. If I am understanding you correctly you are putting the opere operato in baptism and tying that in with God's sovereign choice of us, am I correct? You are linking baptism, which is our finite response to belief to election and sovereignty of God, which is infinte and omniscient. If I didn't answer your objection, maybe I just need you to explain your question better.

thanks again for your time Bill...

Anonymous said...

Off topic--
Is it my imagination or has your number of Blog Visits taken off lately? If so, Cool. Mine has ramped up a little too. Probably due to the small community we seem to be establishing.

Seth McBee said...

We have ramped up the visits lately, and I think you are right in that it is because of our "little community" that it has done so. I just need to write something more controversial so I can get all you reformers over to comment more on our about "Dispensationalist or Die!" or "Calvin was Pre-Trib!"

I think it would light us up pretty quickly, but I am not that petty:)

Anonymous said...


Some great threads here, very thought-provoking. I've often wondered about the salvation of Lewis, given these problems in his theology (and even then, I did not know the extent to which the problems go).

I'm a fellow Calvinist. What prompts me to comment is the dialogue that's been going on regarding the salvation of infants. I realize that even among Calvinists this is a debate, AND that Scripture doesn't say much on the issue... but I struggle, because it seems that Scripture does comment on the most important part of the matter, namely, "what is required for salvation?" If we say that babies are exempt from the requirements, i.e. get into heaven by some means other than confession of the name of Christ, we compromise. This sounds harsh only to those minds who fail to recognize that an unsaved 30 year old has just as little of a capacity to choose Christ as the totally depraved infant. Have you considered that David's speculation about his son's salvation could have been wrong? I don't think that would contradict Inerrancy.
We must simply fight the emotionalism that arminians always appeal to, instead relying on God's sovereingty and goodness.

Seth McBee said...

thanks for the comment and I agree with you on every point. David could have been wrong, and you are right, that would have no effect on the inerrancy of Scripture as we know that the actions of biblical saints doesn't show perfection but shows ACCURACY of what happened, that is what is inerrant about the word.

As far as the "babies going to heaven" I hope David was right, but the fact is that we really don't know and that is why I said I wasn't willing to "die on a hill" for that conviction. And you said it best,

"We must simply fight the emotionalism, instead relying on God's sovereingty and goodness."

Be careful though with lumping all arminians into one clump, as we hate it when they lump us into one clump as well. Just be careful with that as they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thanks again for stopping by and hopefully we keep seeing you pop in.

Anonymous said...

"Calvin was Pre-Trib!"

Love it! Of course, I have to know how you and Calvin define "trib"

To quote my favorite bear, Yucka Yucka Yucka.

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