Piper and Robbins on C.S. Lewis

The following is a compilation of quotes from the heretic John W. Robbins and John Piper regarding C.S. Lewis. Those in agreement with Doug Wilson would say that John Robbins is NO FRIEND of C.S. Lewis. But John Piper IS A FRIEND of C.S. Lewis. Anyway, some years back Doug Wilson wrote this concerning Robbins:

“And this is why I am taking the time to answer John Robbins. However much he has discredited himself in the responsible Reformed world (consigning C.S. Lewis to Hell, attacking the Apostles’ Creed, and much, much more), he still has a hearing in certain quarters.” (Doug Wilson, Theological Spam).

In Doug Wilson’s view, a professing Calvinist who judges C.S. Lewis unregenerate based on his heretical writings is to be discredited “in the responsible Reformed world.” That’s a lofty claim by Wilson and shows that he holds Lewis in very high esteem. While some who revere C.S. Lewis might dismiss Robbins out of hand, they would NOT do the same with John Piper. For Piper is heavily-influenced by Lewis and has much admiration for him. Here Piper writes about extra-biblical books & authors that influenced him the most:

“I discovered C.S. Lewis through Mere Christianity my freshman year in college. Since then I have read over 20 books by Lewis. He has had a tremendous influence on me in several ways.

1) He has made me wary of chronological snobbery. That is, he has shown me that “newness” is no virtue and “oldness” is no fault. Truth and beauty and goodness are not determined by when they exist. Nothing is inferior for being old and nothing is valuable for being modern. This has freed me from the tyranny of novelty and opened for me the wisdom of the ages. He said one: every third book you read should be from outside your own (provincial) century.

2) He demonstrated for me and convinced me that rigorous, precise, penetrating logic is not inimical to deep, soul-stirring feeling and vivid, lively, even playful imagination. He was a “romantic rationalist.” He combined what almost everybody today assumes are mutually exclusive: rationalism and poetry, cool logic and warm feeling, disciplined prose and free imagination. In shattering these old stereotypes for me, he freed me to think hard and to write poetry, to argue for the resurrection and compose hymns to Christ, to smash an argument and hug a friend, to demand a definition and use a metaphor.

3) Finally, Lewis has given (and continues to give) me an intense sense of the “realness” of things. This is hard to communicate. To wake up in the morning and to be aware of the firmness of the mattress, the warmth of the sun rays, the sound of the clock ticking, the sheer being of things (quidity as he calls it). He helped me become alive to life. He helped me to see what is there in the world–things which if we didn’t have them, we would pay a million dollars to have, but having them, ignore. He convicts me of my insensitivity to beauty. He convicts me of my callous inability to enjoy God’s daily gifts. He helps me to awaken my dazing soul so that the realities of life and of God and heaven and hell are seen and felt.

Among the books I have read and enjoyed with much profit are: Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters, The Problem of Pain, The Abolition of Man, Miracles, Pilgrim’s Regress, Poems, Letters to an American Lady, Letters of C.S. Lewis, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (cf. The other 6 Narnia books),Perelandra, Out of the Silent Planet, That Hideous Strength, Christian Reflections, Experiment in Criticism, God in the Dock, The Four Loves, The Weight of Glory, A Mind Awake (anthology ed. by C.. Kilby).” (John Piper, Books That Have Influenced Me Most)

Please compare and contrast this compilation of what John Robbins AND John Piper said about C.S. Lewis:

JR [John Robbins]: C. S. Lewis was one of the most influential, if not the most influential, Anglican writer of the twentieth century … Lewis was no Evangelical.

JP [John Piper]: My approach in this talk is personal. I am going to talk about what has meant the most to me in C. S. Lewis—how he has helped me the most. And as I raise this question, as I have many times over the years, the backdrop of the question becomes increasingly urgent: Why has he been so significant for me, even though he is not Reformed in his doctrine, and could barely be called an evangelical by typical American uses of that word?

JR: Lewis allowed that ‘all Holy Scripture is in some sense – though not all parts of it in the same sense – the word of God.’5 … In a letter Lewis wrote to Clyde Kilby on May 7, 1959, he argued, ‘If every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights, then all true and edifying writings, whether in Scripture or not, must in some sense be inspired.’6

5 Reflections on the Psalms, 19.

6 Letters of C. S. Lewis, W. H. Lewis, editor, 1993, 479-480.

JP: He doesn’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, 1

1 ‘Lewis, as we have seen in the scope of this study, stands in sharp contrast to evangelical fundamentalism. His example proves that one can be a dedicated evangelical, accept the full authority of Scripture, yet disbelieve in inerrancy.’ Michael J. Christensen, C. S. Lewis on Scripture (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1979), p. 91. Lewis speaks of the predictions of the Second Coming in one generation as ‘error’ in ‘The World’s Last Night’ in C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces (London: Harper Collins, 2000), p. 45.

JR: The net effect of even a brief examination of Lewis’ statements about Scripture is to leave us much less sure that Lewis asserted anything distinctly Christian or Biblical about Holy Scripture at all … The fundamental question of how we know anything accurate about Christ apart from an unerring, revealed Scripture is not a question that Lewis considers.

JP: There was something about the way he [Lewis –CD] read Scripture that made my own embrace of inerrancy tighter, not looser.

Robbins cites from Lewis, and then comments on Lewis:

“’Here is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is that God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him’ (Mere Christianity, 64-65).

JR: The truth is, of course, that God has indeed told us what the ‘arrangements about the other people,’ that is, those who do not believe in Christ, are. Christ said, ‘He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God’ (John 3:18). The problem is that Lewis simply did not like this ‘arrangement.’ So he asserted, falsely, that ‘God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are.’ Lewis rejected the God of Scripture who sovereignly decides who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell. He found such an arrangement ‘frightfully unfair.’ His last sentence – ‘we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him’ – directly contradicts Christ’s statements in John 3:14-18, for Christ repeatedly says that only those who know the Son can be saved, and that those who do not know the Son are condemned. Lewis denied that Christian faith is necessary for salvation.

He wrote:

‘[H]ere are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position’ (Mere Christianity, 176-177).

And, echoing Kierkegaard,

‘I think that every prayer which is sincerely made even to a false god or to a very imperfectly conceived true God, is accepted by the true God and that Christ saves many who do not think they know Him’ (Letters of C. S. Lewis, 428).

Sincerity, not truth or knowledge of the truth, is what makes a prayer saving, according to Lewis, and some Buddhists (‘Buddhists of good will’) and Pagans (‘good Pagans’) will also be saved.

More comments from John Piper about C.S. Lewis:

JP: He makes room for at least some people to be saved through imperfect representations of Christ in other religions. 4

4 After visiting Greece with his dying wife, he wrote, ‘At Daphne it was hard not to pray to Apollo the Healer. But somehow one didn’t feel it would have been very wrong—would only have been addressing Christ sub specie Apollinis.’ Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. W. H. Lewis and Walter Hooper, revised edition (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993), p. 468. In this way of talking about possibly praying to Christ through Apollo, he is doing what he told a mother in a letter about her son who feared he loved Aslan more than Jesus: ‘But Laurence can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he’s doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving him more than he ever did before.’ C. S. Lewis, Letters to Children, ed. Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead (New York: Macmillian, 1985), p. 57. Most familiar is the conversion of Emeth (Hebrew for ‘faithful’ or ‘true’), the sincere seeker in another religion. C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1957), pp. 155–157.

Robbins first citing, and then commenting on Lewis:

“‘Of course, you can express this in all sorts of different ways. You can say that Christ died for our sins. You may say that the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true. If any of them do [sic] not appeal to you, leave it alone and get on with the formula that does. And, whatever you do, do not start quarreling with other people because they use a different formula from yours’ (Mere Christianity, 156-157; the [sic] is Robbins’–CD).

JR: Lewis’ first sentence is a denial of the Biblical doctrine that Christ died for certain individuals, whom he referred to as his people, his sheep, his friends, and those whom the Father had given him – not for humanity in general. Each of the individuals for whom Christ died will inexorably be saved, or Christ died in vain. Lewis’ first sentence is a denial of an effectual atonement, and an assertion of an atonement – if we can properly call it an atonement in Lewis’ theology – that makes it possible, but not actual, that anyone will be saved.”

JP: He speaks of the atonement with reverence, but puts little significance on any of the explanations for how it actually saves sinners. 6

6 To a Roman Catholic he wrote in 1941, ‘Yes—I think I gave the impression of going further than I intended in saying that all theories of the atonement were ‘to be rejected if we don’t find them helpful’. What I meant was ‘need not be used—‘ a very different thing. Is there, on your view, and real difference here: that the Divinity of Our Lord has to be believed whether you find it helpful or a ‘scandal’ (otherwise you are not a Christian at all) but the Anselmic theory of Atonement is not in that position. Would you admit that a man was a Christian (and could be a member of your church) who said ‘I believe that Christ’s death redeemed man from sin, but I can make nothing of the theories as to how!’ You see, what I wanted to do in these talks was simply to give what is common to us all, and I’ve been trying to get a nihil obstat from friends in various communions. . . . It therefore doesn’t much matter how you think of my own theory, because it is advanced only as my own.’ Letters of C. S. Lewis, 1966, pp. 197–198.)