(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.
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
There is probably no Christian in modern times better known or more influential than Clive Staples Lewis. Born in Belfast in the year 1899, Lewis would write dozens of books on a variety of topics before his death on November 22, 1963 (on the very day of the deaths of John Kennedy and Aldous Huxley).
At the time of his death his popularity was starting to wane but shortly thereafter there was a revival of interest in Lewis and, arguably, today he is more deeply admired than ever. He is considered by many to be the greatest apologist for the Christian faith to have ever lived.
Whether you agree with this assessment or not, there is no doubt that Lewis was in a league almost by himself in his ability to write great truths in ways that spoke to our hearts and opened our eyes. For this reason, even those who are troubled with much of Lewis’ theology can hardly resist quoting him. There is a danger, however, of all-but-canonizing Lewis, giving more weight to his imaginative explorations and philosophical reasonings than to Scripture. Ruth Tucker writes, “Among Protestants there is only one pope of apologetics…. If C. S. Lewis said it, it must be true. In many circles it seems that the voice of C. S. Lewis is second only to the voice of God.”1
John 1:1—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus was in the beginning (He had no beginning), He was with God, and He was God. The grammatical structure of the passage supports the idea that Jesus was the Word, and that He was God, but that He was not the Father or the Spirit, as both persons are distinguished clearly from Jesus (e.g., Jn 15:9, 26). While the concept of the triune God, or the trinity is prevalent in the New Testament, it is not simply a New Testament concept, as it is found in Old Testament as well (e.g., Isaiah 48:12, 16).
Colossians 1:15-17—“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” That He is the firstborn of all creation means that He is sovereign over creation, not that He is the first created thing Notice the parallel reference to Jesus as the firstborn from the dead in 1:18. Clearly this shows His sovereignty over death, as the one conquering death. The passage is not indicating that He was the first to die.
Christian higher education often suffers from a split personality. It professes a Christian religious allegiance, but practices a variety of secular professional agendas, consciously or unconsciously. But schizophrenia, no matter from which root it springs, is as lethal to a healthy institution as it is to healthy psyche.
I have read some but not all of the philosophers John Frame canvasses in this book. That almost certainly describes you, too. So you’re probably in precisely the same boat I’m in when it comes to Western philosophy—that creaky boat full of hopefuls traveling from the land of ignorance to the land of knowledge. But (and please bear with this analogy, ahem) we hopefuls need guides to get us across the water. (Keep bearing.) We want the kind of guide who will say, “That’s a rocky coastline; you don’t want to land there” or “That’s a good harbor.”
It simply isn’t advisable—or even possible—for most hopefuls to navigate the massive waves and hidden sandbars of philosophy without a guide. That’s true even though firsthand knowledge of that sea is the ultimate goal some of us, at least, ought to be shooting for. We ought to aim to become capable skippers ourselves, guiding others across the perplexity.
One of the themes of John Frame’s own theological work is the moral obligation we have to pick the right guides, to get knowledge righteously. And one of the primary ways we accomplish this feat is by trusting the right authorities. Ultimately, of course, divine authority is the only one that validates knowledge. But that very authority has gifted His church with teachers like Frame (Eph. 4:10).
Read the series so far.
I want to move forward a bit now to the subject of evidence. Probably many of you have heard the old dictum that scientists “follow the evidence wherever it leads.” Often scientists themselves promote this idea, and others catch on and parrot it. It sounds very dignified—almost pious. And, as philosophers of science like Thomas Kuhn and Michael Polanyi have shown, it is almost totally false.
Several years ago, a well known, oft-published physicist named Robert V. Gentry published a book entitled Creation’s Tiny Mystery, which cataloged his research on Polonium 218 radiohalos. The book makes fascinating reading, and it has never been gainsaid. All the same, Gentry’s researched has been shunted to the side by evolutionists because, well, it provides compelling data for the assertion that the earth is young.