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Heresies of CS Lewis

HERESIES of C.S. LEWIS

EXCERPTS from his WRITINGS

  Lewis_CS

The following is a sampling of C. S. Lewis’ beliefs and attitudes towards Christianity and the Bible. (This list shows C. S. Lewis to be a very dangerous man to follow. — E. L. Bynum)

Prayers for the Dead

“Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter men. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden.’ (Letters to Malcolm)

Purgatory

“I believe in Purgatory… The right view returns magnificently in New-man’s Dream. There if I remember rightly, the saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed. It cannot bear for a moment longer ‘with its darkness to affront that light’ . . . Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? (Letters to Malcolm)

Hell – 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.” (The Great Divorce)

Paganism

I had some ado to prevent Joy (and myself) from lapsing into paganism in Attica! At Daphni it was hard 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. (Written to Chad Walsh, 1960)

Salvation Apart from Christ

“But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other 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 points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position.” (Mere Christianity)

Blood Atonement Not Necessary

“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 quarreling with other people because they use a different formula from yours.” (Mere Christianity)

Works Salvation

“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)

The Catholic Mass

“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 Malcom)

Evolution

. . . we have good reason to believe that animals existed long before . . . For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself.” (The Problem of Pain) “If… you mean simply that man is physically descended from animals, I have no objection.” (The Problem of Pain)

I have no difficulty accepting, say, the view of those scholars who tell us that the account of Creation in Genesis is derived from earlier Semitic stories which were Pagan and mythical.” (Reflections of the Psalms)

No Eternal Security

“There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians…” (Mere Christianity)

Inherent Goodness of Man

“…when the consequence is drawn that, since we are totally depraved, our idea of good is worth simply nothing… may thus turn Christianity into a form of devil worship.” (The Problem of Pain)

Heaven – Merely a Symbol

“All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressive. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendor and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it” (Mere Christianity)

Immortality of Animals

“it seems to me possible that certain animals may have an immortality, not in themselves, but in the immortality of their masters.” (The Problem of Pain)

Respect for Mythology

“I have the deepest respect for Pagan myths, still more for myths in the Holy Scriptures.” (The Problem of Pain)

–The Fairhaven Fundamentalist, Reproduced in the Plains Baptist Challenger, September 2011

Mere Christianity or Mere Philosophy? By C.S. Lewis

“You will not learn from me whether you ought to become an Anglican, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, or a Roman Catholic.” . . .” — Preface

“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.” — Ibid. p. 42

“The one most people have heard is the one I mentioned before – the one about our being let off because Christ had volunteered to bear a punishment instead of us. Now on the face of it that is a very silly theory. If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead?” Ibid. P. 44

“If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not intend to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another: unchastity is not improved by adding perjury.” — Ibid. p. 83

“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. At least, those are the three ordinary methods. I am not saying there may not be special cases where it is spread without one or more of these. . . . 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. Anyone who professes to teach you Christian doctrine will, in fact, tell you to use all three, and that is enough for our present purpose.” — Ibid. p.47-48

“This new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion. It is not merely the spreading of an idea, it is more like evolution – a biological or super biological fact. . . . That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.” — Ibid. p. 50

“Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or Faith in Christ. I have no right really to speak on such a difficult question, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. . . . The first half is, ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ – which looks as if everything depended on us and our good actions, but the second half goes on, ‘For it is God who worketh in you’ — which looks as if God did everything and we nothing. I am afraid that is the sort of thing we come up against in Christianity. I am puzzled, but I am not surprised. You see, we are now trying to understand, and to separate into water-tight compartments, what exactly God does and what man does when God and man are working together.

And, of course, we begin by thinking it is like two men working together, so that you could say, ‘He did this bit and I did that.’ But this way of thinking breaks down. God is not like that. He is inside you as well as outside: even if we could understand who did what, I do not think human language could properly express it. In the attempt to express it different Churches say different things. But you will find that even those who insist most strongly on the importance of good actions tell you you need Faith; and even those who insist most strongly on Faith tell you to do good actions. At any rate that is as far as I go.” — Ibid. p. 115-116

“We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.” He elaborates on page 162, offering hope for salvation to Buddhists: “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.” Ibid. p. 50

“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.” — Ibid. p. 50

“The Hebrews, like other peoples, had mythology: but as they were the chosen people so their mythology was the chosen mythology – the mythology chosen by God to be the vehicle of the earliest sacred truths, the first step in that process which ends in the New Testament where truth has become completely historical. Whether we can ever say with certainty where, in this process of crystallization, any particular Old Testament story falls, is another matter. I take it that the memoirs of David’s court come at one end of the scale and are scarcely less historical than St. Mark or Acts; and that the Book of Jonah is at the opposite end.” p 139 of the 1973 Macmillan edition of “Miracles” by C.S. Lewis

— Excerpts copied from The Biblical Examiner, March 2009

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