C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity (1)

From C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity:

==The reader should be warned that I offer no help to anyone who is hesitating between two Christian “denominations.” You will not learn from me whether you ought to become an Anglican, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, or a Roman Catholic. This omission is intentional (even in the list I have just given the order is alphabetical).

There is no mystery about my own position. I am a very ordinary layman of the Church of England, not especially “high,” nor especially “low,” nor especially anything else. ==

Uh, well, okay. But I don’t think I can agree with the “very ordinary layman” part. Layman? Fine. Ordinary? I disagree. The Church of England is supposed to adhere to the 39 articles but if I recall correctly, its statement on Predestination & Election is not especially explicit.

==But in this book I am not trying to convert anyone to my own position. Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times. I had more than one reason for thinking this. In the first place, the questions which divide Christians from one another often involve points of high Theology or even of ecclesiastical history which ought never to be treated except by real experts.==

This “high Theology” is at least one reason why Lewis called certain elements of the Protestant Reformation, “farcical.” And, surprise, surprise, Lewis IS in a sense “treating” these supposed “high elements” and “high Theology” by saying they “ought never to be treated except by real experts.” Lewis would readily admit that he is “nooo expert” on these matters. But he is evidently “expert enough” to implicitly label this “high Theology” as a non-essential of the Christian faith. A related quote:

“The process whereby ‘Faith and Works’ became a stock gag in the commercial theater is characteristic of that whole tragic farce which we call the history of the Reformation. The theological questions really at issue have no significance except on a certain level, a high-level, of the spiritual life” (C. S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953), p. 37); underlining mine–CD).

In reply to whether or not C.S. Lewis was a Calvinist, Reformed pundit Douglas Wilson asserted in a CanonWired youtube video, that

“… he’s not an American Presbyterian Calvinist. He doesn’t use the jargon of…he doesn’t use the language or the vocabulary or the jargon we find in modern…Calvinistic circles. So there, no, he’s not. But…there are a number of indications that show that he understood the essential teachings of the Reformation and…that he signed off on them…and it shows in his books as well.”

What kind of genuine ingenuous reasoning asserts that the Lewisian phrase, “whole tragic farce” is secret code for “I wholeheartedly and unreservedly sign off on all this Reformation stuff”?

==I should have been out of my depth in such waters: more in need of help myself than able to help others.==

But NOT so “out of [his] depth” to judge what theological questions are considered “high-level” “spiritual life” questions.

==And secondly, I think we must admit that the discussion of these disputed points has no tendency at all to bring an outsider into the Christian fold. So long as we write and talk about them we are much more likely to deter him from entering any Christian communion than to draw him into our own. Our divisions should never be discussed except in the presence of those who have already come to believe that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is His only Son. Finally, I got the impression that far more, and more talented, authors were already engaged in such controversial matters than in the defence of what Baxter calls “mere” Christianity. That part of the line where I thought I could serve best was also the part that seemed to be thinnest. And to it I naturally went.==

Thinnest? Thinnest doctrinally or theologically? “Thinnest” meaning the essentials of the faith? “Thinnest” meaning essential gospel doctrine? “Thinnest” meaning “Believe in Jesus whatever your definition of Him might be?”

==Theories about Christ’s death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works. Christians would not all agree as to how important these theories are. ==

Efficacious atonement is not Christianity? The deity of Christ is not Christianity? These are just “theories” about Christ’s Person and Work? Of course these doctrines by themselves are not Christianity since Christianity ALSO would include the Inspiration of Holy Scripture. As for “importance,” there are many with the gall to name the name of Christ who dispense with many essentials of the Christian faith.

==My own church-the Church of England-does not lay down any one of them as the right one. The Church of Rome goes a bit further. But I think they will all agree that the thing itself is infinitely more important than any explanations that theologians have produced. I think they would probably admit that no explanation will ever be quite adequate to the reality.==

And since “no explanation will ever be quite adequate to the reality” of the efficacious cross-work of Jesus Christ, then let’s just have C.S. Lewis throw his sinister pseudo-pious shroud over its glory.

==But as I said in the preface to this book, I am only a layman, and at this point we are getting into deep water. I can only tell you, for what it is worth, how I, personally, look at the matter.==

Oh, but I’m only a layman. I’m only a layman. Ahhh! Shaaddduuup! You’re “only a layman” who is muddying up the crystal-clear waters of the redemptive glory of God seen in the face of Jesus Christ:

“But also if our gospel is being hidden, it has been hidden in those being lost, in whom the god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, so that the brightness of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves your slaves for the sake of Jesus. Because it is God who said, Out of darkness Light shall shine, who shone in our hearts to give the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).