C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity: An Examination of the Concept in Richard Baxter & C. S. Lewis (Part 3)

From Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ), with permission. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

C. S. Lewis and Mere Christianity

N. H. Keeble, speaking about the connection between Baxter and Lewis, wrote, “[There is] a pervasive coincidence of idea and emphasis between the work of the most popular and influential Christian evangelist and apologist of the seventeenth century and that of his counterpart in the twentieth.”1 Indeed, a similarity of thought should be expected, since Lewis borrowed a central phrase from Baxter’s thought. But we will also find that there are some striking differences. This section will develop Lewis’s conception of MC. The reader is encouraged to look for the subtle differences in thought between the two great Christian thinkers. The next section will make the differences as well as the commonalities explicit, allowing us to examine how the Christian apologist should incorporate MC into his defense of the faith.

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Mere Christianity: An Examination of the Concept in Richard Baxter & C. S. Lewis (Part 2)

From Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ), with permission. This section continues to examine Baxer’s concept of mere Christianity. Read Part 1.

Baxter’s Non-Denominational Stance

The source of Baxter’s anti-denominational stance is explained by multiple factors. A major factor was grounded in Baxter’s belief that all worship is faulty. The Presbyterian will criticize the Anglican mode of worship, and the Anglican will respond in like manner. But Baxter believed that neither had the higher ground. He arrived at this conclusion by consideration of human depravity. That is, since every aspect of man’s life is fallen, even the best worship will be marred. Thus Baxter says,

For while all the worshippers are faulty and imperfect, all their worship will be too: and if your actual sin, when you pray or preach effectively yourselves, doth not signify that you approve your faultiness; much less will your presence prove that you allow of the faultiness of others. The business that you come upon is to join with a Christian congregation in the use of those ordinances which God hath appointed, supposing that the ministers and worshippers will all be sinfully defective, in method, order, words, or circumstances: and to bear with that which God doth bear with, and not to refuse that which is God’s for the adherent faults of men, no more than you will refuse every dish of meat which is unhandsomely cooked, as long as there is no poison in it, and you prefer it not before better.1

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The Mixed Blessing of C. S. Lewis (Part 2)

(Read Part 1.)

As far back as 1963 Martyn Lloyd-Jones warned that C. S. Lewis had a defective view of salvation—and with good reason. Let’s take a look at several soteriological errors in Lewis’ theology.

The Substitutionary Atonement

In Mere Christianity Lewis was clear that he rejected the substitutionary atonement:

Now before I became a Christian I was under the impression that the first thing Christians had to believe was one particular theory as to what the point of this dying [Christ’s] was. 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…. Theories about Christ’s death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works.11

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"Among the educated elite today, talking publicly about one's belief in the devil and his influence on the culture and the world would be social suicide"

C.S. Lewis and the Devil - Admirers of ‘The Screwtape Letters’ range from Monty Python’s John Cleese to Focus on the Family.

When asked about “his belief in the Devil,” Lewis addressed the question in a thought-provoking way in his preface to a revised edition of “Screwtape” in 1960: “Now, if by ‘the Devil’ you mean a power opposite to God and, like God, self existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly No.”

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