C. S. Lewis – Ecumenical Muse


Listen to Christian radio for a couple of hours and you’re bound to hear a quote or two from C. S. Lewis. Sit in a pew at an evangelical church tomorrow and there’s a very good chance the pastor will quote Lewis during his sermon. Why this infatuation with Lewis among evangelicals? Why not, you ask? See here for my previous review of “Mere Christianity” and why Lewis’s theology is problematic for evangelicals.

Why drag my review out of mothballs? Because yesterday I heard Lewis quoted on Catholic talk radio (argh!) and I also ran across this informative video critique of Lewis from No Compromise Radio. Evangelical pastors need to STOP WITH THE C. S. LEWIS QUOTES!


12 thoughts on “C. S. Lewis – Ecumenical Muse

  1. My husband and I both share your sentiment when it comes to evangelical apologists and biblical scholars quoting C.S. Lewis, who happened to have been converted to Christianity by way of G.K. Chesterton’s convincing argumentation. The person who quotes academics are praised, yet any person who quotes the bible is considered a wackjob. . . Some assimilate to worldly standards in order to win the world which is a thin line to complete compromise.

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    1. Thanks, MC. Yes, the previous SBC church we attended had a young pastor just out of seminary who was enamored with Chesterton, Lewis, Aquinas, Kreeft, etc, and bemoaned the fact that evangelicalism was very short on intellectuals. In the post below, I wrote about this young pastor and his search for affirming intellectualism outside of God’s Word.


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  2. Hi Tom,
    I fully understand the sentiment behind the video and your post; but I must whole heartedly object. I myself disagree with several or even many of Lewis’s specific theological views, but that for me was not the significance of Lewis. The significance of Lewis, for me, was that he got me to think about such theological issues in the first place. Lewis makes very clear in Mere Christianity that his atonement position may not be correct, and that his readers could and should come to their own conclusion on the matter. But besides this, I think it is just wrong that we shouldn’t use writers and theologians just because we disagree with one or many of their views. Just because Lewis may have gotten some things wrong, certainly doesn’t mean he got everything wrong, or that there is not value, wisdom, and depth in his writings. It is the mark of intellectual maturity to be able to appreciate and garner truth even from those with whom we ardently disagree. Quoting Lewis in one are does not mean we approve or support all of his views in every subject. After all, even the Apostle Paul quoted pagan philosophers.

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    1. Harrison, thanks for the comments although I don’t know if you really meant to make this into a discussion about who is intellectually mature and who is not. Yes, Paul quoted Greek philosophers, but, as you know, that was done to make a connection with his Greek audiences that he could use to point them to the Gospel. Evangelical pastors have used the acerbic wit of such unbelievers as Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken in their sermons to eventually point people to the Gospel. Fine. But, as you well know, evangelical pastors’ affection for Lewis goes much deeper than that. In addition to quoting Lewis quite frequently, many evangelical pastors recommend that “searchers” or new believers read “Mere Christianity.” Evangelical pastors are prone to include “Mere Christianity” and several of Lewis’s other books on their recommended reading lists for their congregants. As a result, Lewis’s less-than-orthodox theology has been legitimatized in the minds of many. If you were to ask 100 “rank and file,” pew-sitting evangelicals who their favorite theologian was, you’d no doubt get a lot of blank stares, but the #1 answer would probably be C. S. Lewis. That’s very, very sad. And that’s the fault of evangelical pastors. So, if Lewis is so wrong on so many points of theology, why do pastors put him on such a high pedestal in front of their congregations? I think the preoccupation with Lewis involves a bit of intellectual snobbery. Some of the pastors’ motivation in quoting Lewis, Chesterton, Stott, and other English intellectuals who espoused bad theology is to convince their congregations that they themselves are also intellectuals. It’s as if they’re saying, “I’m not one of those backwoods Bible-banger preachers who wouldn’t know an adjective from an adverb. See, I read Chesterton, Muggeridge, Lewis, etc., etc., so that means I’m an intellectual, too!” That’s definitely some of the motivation. How else to explain it? There are much more orthodox theologians than Lewis out there but they don’t have anywhere near the snob appeal. As I mentioned in my review of “Mere Christianity,” there’s some “herd mentality” at work here also. “The hippest pastors revere Lewis so I’m going to revere him, too.”

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      1. My comment about “the mark of intellectual maturity” was not directed towards you or anyone specifically; my apologies if it was taken that way. I think we all should strive to be more intellectually mature. I agree with many of your points: about Paul’s use of pagan philosophers, about Evangelical pastors’ affection for Lewis which in many cases probably very well is driven by wrong motives such as intellectual snobbery and herd mentality. I even agree with you that there are much better philosophers/theologians who ought to be given much more attention. I guess Lewis just has a personal appeal to me, since reading his books quite literally changed my life; I’m not sure I would be a Christian having this conversation today if it weren’t for him and others like him (including Chesterton). So the reason I would still support putting Mere Christianity on a list for new believers or people searching for answers is that, for many people, Mere Christianity helped them to believe and understand their beliefs, and, perhaps most importantly, helped them to think about what they believe and why. I’m sure other theologians could also do this, but Lewis just had a way to connect people with ideas that really was quite amazing and even beautiful. For these reasons Lewis remains one of my favorite, and definitely one of the most influential, writers in my life, even though I disagree with him on much of the specifics.

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      2. Thanks, Harrison. Yes, we can agree that Lewis was a very good writer. I actually enjoyed reading many parts of “Mere Christianity” but every time he strayed from orthodoxy it was like nails on a chalkboard. I admit I wasn’t of a mind to cut him too much slack going in because I was already aware that many ecumenically-minded evangelicals admired Lewis quite a bit. This is just one of those things we can respectfully disagree about. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’m sure there have been many people who were helped along on their journey to Christ by reading Lewis. There’s enough of the Gospel there, certainly, yet he does present many non-orthodox concepts that would not be advantageous for a new believer.

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      1. Thanks, Maria! Yes, I actually read that article this morning while eating my cereal before heading to work. Voris and his traditionalist crew always make for entertaining reading. They have no use for Francis who they view as an apostate pope. BTW, Voris regularly posts negative stories about gay priests but he recently was forced to reveal that he practiced that “lifestyle” for many years himself. That’s not to smear Voris, but it might explain why he’s so obsessed with exposing homosexual priests. Reminds me of the Muslim shooter in Orlando who targeted gays but was a gay himself.


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