Was C.S. Lewis a Heretic?

Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Thursday, May 22, 2014

Was C.S. Lewis a Heretic?


The "five second rule" isn't a rule: if you drop food on the floor and it lands on germs, the germs will stick to it immediately.  We've been told that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but the Empire State Building is struck 25 times a year.  We don't really use only 10 percent of our brains—MRIs reveal that we use most or all of our brains in one way or another.  And being in the cold doesn't cause colds—catching the virus from other people is how we get sick.

In other words, we don't always know what we think we know.  This fact was reinforced for me today by an article on the Relevant website: "6 Heretics Who Should Be Banned From Evangelicalism."  According to the writer, 

  • C. S. Lewis was an inclusivist (believing that people can go to heaven without knowing about Jesus).
  • Martin Luther apparently rejected an inerrantist view of Scripture.
  • St. Augustine rejected a literalist view of the Genesis creation account.
  • William Barclay was a universalist (believing everyone will eventually be in heaven).
  • John Stott thought that the unrepentant might cease to exist rather than spending eternity in hell.
  • Billy Graham once said in an interview that people who don't know Jesus' name can be saved by responding to the only light they have.

The writer's tongue-in-cheek point is that we can be too swift to brand people as heretics.  He's right.

C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity changed my life when I first encountered it in high school.  After years of intellectual struggles with Christianity, I was encouraged greatly by his reasoned approach to the faith.  I don't agree with Lewis' belief in Purgatory, but I remain grateful to God for his mind and influence.

I disagree with Martin Luther on church polity, but admire his wisdom and courage.  I disagree with St. Augustine on infant baptism, but marvel at his genius.  I disagree with William Barclay's non-literalist view of the virgin birth and his universalism, but have found his commentaries to be extremely helpful with biblical history and context.  I disagree with John Stott on hell, but aspire to be more like him in character and spirit.  I disagree with Billy Graham on the book of Revelation, but will always admire his godly character and heart.

The Corinthian congregation's immaturity caused Paul to give them "milk, not solid food" (1 Corinthians 3:2).  Milk is digested food, nutrition taken second-hand.  So it is with some of us—our faith is the product of our pastor's sermons, Bible study teacher's theology, or the last book we read.  By contrast, the Berean congregation "received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (Acts 17:11).  As I said to every church I pastored, measure everything I say by what God says.  Seek meat, not milk.

Is yours a first-hand faith today?

 

Publication date: May 22, 2014

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