Rand, of A Pattern of Sound Works, has posted a scathing criticism of C.S. Lewis,
one of my favorite authors and someone partially responsible for my return to faith. NOTA BENE: The following fisk is not personal. Rand comments a lot at Christian Conservative and seems to be a nice guy. From what I’ve seen, he comments intelligently and politely. He’s just kinda off his nut about Lewis. 😉
I know Lewis’ works. I’ve read “The Great Divorce“, “Mere
Christianity” and parts of “The Screwtape Letters“.
All and all, I wasn’t impressed.
How about Miracles, The Problem of Pain, The Abolition of Man,
The Four Loves, or A Grief Observed?
“The Great Divorce” was cute fiction, and “The Screwtape
Letters” was creepy fiction, but in the end, they were both vain FICTION,
with very little by way of edifying theology (if any at all).
The Great Divorce, like all of Lewis’ fiction, was intended to stimulate
introspective thought on the part of the reader. I guess you can drag a man to knowledge
but you can’t make him think.
To call The Screwtape Letters “creepy fiction” demonstrates a complete
ignorance of the point of the book. What makes it creepy is not that the main characters
are devils trying to turn a soul away from God, but rather the seemingly mundane
aspects of life that can profoundly affect us. As the saying goes, “The devil’s
in the details.” As I read the book (and reread it) I found myself disgusted
by my own pettiness as I saw it reflected in the young devil’s prey. From conversations
I have had and reviews I have read, mine was a common experience. The Screwtape
Letters was not intended to be a dissertation on theology any more than it was
an amusing bedtime story. It’s about avoiding self-righteousness, seeking continual
conversion, and being truly repentant.
“Mere Christianity” on the other hand, was not meant to be fiction,
it was an attempt at boiling down Christianity to it’s very base, and that was the
problem with this book. In “Mere Christianity“, Lewis attempts
to present how pure and wonderful Christianity is in it’s foundation, before dumb-dumbs
like Rand come along and complicate things with holiness and DOCTRINE (oh no! I
said the “d” word!).
Lewis was not opposed to doctrine. He merely felt too inadequate to write about
it. He rewrote a chapter of Miracles because he was bested in a debate. He
never wrote advanced theological topics again. Rand’s concerns about being treated
like an imbecile are misplaced. Mere Christianity was intended for a specific
audience. It was not intended as complete theological treatise or even a thorough
introduction to Christianity. It was merely meant to convince, or at least picque
the interest of, skeptics. I think it’s safe to assume that Rand is long past that
phase and does not need Mere Christianity any more than I need Windows
Let me also add that a believer really doesn’t need to read C.S. Lewis to see that
there is something fishy going on with his books. Notice that every faith, from
the Roman Catholic to the Mormon, from the Anglican to the Pentecostal, all these
groups are perfectly okay with Lewis’ writings. Am I really one of the few who finds
this to be a bit weird?
Popularity across denominations denotes heresy? How is that an argument?
As far as I’m concerned, the only way an author can get away with pleasing such
a large variety of faiths is to write fluff and stuff (nothing concrete),
or to be everything to everyone; neither being very profitable to the Christian,
or honoring to God.
Lewis has been criticized by some for addressing the common man rather than academics
with his writings. However, what his critics miss is that Lewis wasn’t trying to
be everything to everyone. He was motivated to get people “in the door”
to Christianity. As I said above, he didn’t feel fit to guide anyone farther than
that. Like John the Baptist, he called people to repent and believe. Once he’d disciples,
he passed them along to those more capable. Lewis’ writings are responsible for
bringing countless numbers of people to Christ. They are not “fluff and stuff”.
Lewis didn’t boil away all the details of Christianity and pass off the remainder
as the real thing (as many current Christian writers are wont to do), but rather
gave gentle introductions in hopes that readers would seek the rest of the Truth
Beware of C.S. Lewis’ works my friends. Guard yourself from esteeming
men who do not conform to the proper doctrines of the Word of God
As defined by whom?
Are there any other God-bloggers out there willing to come to Lewis’ defense? I fear my rebuttals will fall on deaf ears since, a Roman Catholic, I am a heretic in Rand’s eyes.