A C. S. Lewis Fact Sheet! by Jack Kettler
Many American Evangelicals celebrate and attempt to own C. S. Lewis as one of their own. C. S. Lewis was a professor of medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, and there is no doubt that Lewis was indeed an intellectual. However, being an intellectual or highly educated does not guarantee fidelity to the Word of God or that one will even be a Christian. In what follows, the diligent reader will be shocked to discover some of Lewis's actual beliefs.
To start, consider this shocking Universalistic heresy from C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia:
“Then I fell at his feet and thought, surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.
Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, it is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.
Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou shouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”1
What is Lewis saying in this chapter? According to Lewis, those who sincerely serve the devil (Tash) are serving God (Aslan) and will eventually be accepted by God and allowed into heaven. We should recognize this as outright heresy. Unfortunately, many people believe that God will save unbelievers and followers of pagan religions without faith in Christ, along with Lewis.
Some may attempt to save Lewis from this shocking heresy by saying that this quotation is from The Chronicles of Narnia, which is allegorical. Because of this, it should not be taken literally as something Lewis believed.
Is this a valid defense of Lewis? Consider this following quote from Mere Christianity:
“There 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.”2
In another place, Lewis says this:
“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.”3
Shockingly, Lewis says:
“as I believe, Christ, fulfills both Paganism and Judaism.”4
What does the apostle Paul say? Every person who is outside of genuine faith in Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins! (See Ephesians 2:1)
Was Lewis an Evangelical on Scripture? Lewis has this to say:
“all Holy Scripture is in some sense – though not all parts of it in the same sense – the word of God.”5
“Naivety, error, contradiction, even (as in the cursing Psalms) wickedness are not removed. The total result is not ‘the Word of God’ in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God....”6
Lewis separates himself from a Protestant view of Scripture:
“whether a particular passage is rightly translated or is myth (but of course myth specially chosen by God from among countless myths to carry a spiritual truth) or history.... But we must not use the Bible (our fathers too often did) as a sort of Encyclopedia out of which texts...can be taken for use as weapons.”7
In contrast to confessional Protestants, Lewis believed the Scriptures, and Christ himself to be in error:
“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place,” as “certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.” And: “The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance [Mark 13:32] grow side by side. That they stood thus in the mouth of Jesus himself, and were not merely placed thus by the reporter, we surely need not doubt.... The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so.”8
Was this an isolated statement by Lewis? Consider:
“Either this [John’s Gospel] is reportage, though it may no doubt contain errors, pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic, narrative.”9
It what could be taken for a Neo-Orthodox statement, Lewis says:
“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God.”10
Jesus believed in Hell, did Lewis? Consider the following:
“And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind--is, in the end, Hell”11
Consider Lewis on Purgatory:
“Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age, the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to him?
I believe in Purgatory.
Mind you, the Reformers had good reasons for throwing doubt on the 'Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory' as that Romish doctrine had then become....
The right view returns magnificently in Newman's DREAM. There, if I remember it rightly, the saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed. It cannot bear for a moment longer 'With its darkness to affront that light'. Religion has claimed Purgatory.
Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.'
I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. But I don't think the suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. . .. The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much.
My favorite image on this matter comes from the dentist's chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am 'coming round',' a voice will say, 'Rinse your mouth out with this.' This will be Purgatory. The rinsing may take longer than I can now imagine. The taste of this may be more fiery and astringent than my present sensibility could endure. But . . . it will be disgusting and unhallowed.”12
Lewis on man's sin or depravity:
“...when the consequence is drawn that, since we are totally depraved, our idea of good is worth simply nothing - may thus turn Christianity into a form of devil worship”13
Lewis had more to say on this:
“I disbelieve that doctrine [total depravity], partly on the logical ground that if our depravity were total we should not know ourselves to be depraved and partly because experience shows us much good in human nature.”14
As seen above, Lewis believed non-Christians could be saved. Consider Lewis on how people are saved in the Christian world:
“There are three things that spread the Christ-life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names - Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord's Supper”15
Lewis' sacramental understanding of salvation:
“There are three things that spread the Christ-life to us: baptism, belief, and…the Lord’s supper…. And perhaps that explains one or two things. It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion…. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.”16
Lewis on evolution:
“If by saying that man rose from brutality you mean simply that man is physically descended from animals, I have no objections…. For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumbs could be applied to each of its fingers, and jaws and teeth and the throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated. The creature may have existed for ages in this state before it became man…. We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state.”17
“… for we have good reason to believe that animals existed long before men… For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself … God caused a new kind of consciousness to descend upon this organism”18
“…Man, the highest of the animals”19
“If … you mean simply that man is physically descended from animals, I have no objection”20
“...but he (man) remains still a primate and an animal”21
Lewis' denial of the creation account and Adam's historicity subverts the critical point made by Paul in Romans about how sin and death came into the world:
Therefore, just as through one-man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Romans 5:12-17. If sin and death existed in the world for millions of years prior to Adam, then the Scriptures would not be true. I will take what Paul says in Romans as truth instead of the speculation of Lewis.
C.S. Lewis held that the Biblical Genesis account came from pagan and mythical sources:
“I have therefore no difficulty accepting, say, the view of those scholars who tell us that the account of Creation in Genesis is derived from earlier Semitic stories which were Pagan and mythical.”22
Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones of historic Westminster Chapel of London reservations regarding the theology of C. S. Lewis:
“C. S. Lewis was essentially a philosopher; his view of salvation was defective... Lewis was an opponent of the substitutionary and penal theory of the Atonement”23
In conclusion, it is not being said that Christians should not read the writings of C. S. Lewis. Lewis should be read with discernment and not recognized as an evangelical. Lewis would not have been able to answer the following important Presbyterian membership vow to be accepted as a communicant member:
“Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule for faith and life?”
In light of the above quotations, surely the reader will agree.
1. C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle, (New York, Macmillian Publishing Company, 1970), pp. 164,165.
2. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York, Macmillian Publishing Company, 1960), pp. 176-177.
3. C. S. Lewis, Letters of C. S. Lewis, (New York, Harper and Row, 2001), p. 428.
4. C. S. Lewis, Reflections on The Psalms, (New York, Mariner Books 1964), p. 129.
5. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p. 19.
6. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p. 94.
7. C. S. Lewis, Letters of C. S. Lewis, (New York, Harper and Row, 2001), p. 428.
8. C. S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, (New York, Mariner Books, 1960), p. 98-99.
9. C. S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1967), pp. 154-155.
10. Letters of C. S. Lewis, p. 428.
11. C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, (New York, Macmillian Publishing Company, 1960), p. 65.
12. C. S. Lewis, Letters To Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, (New York, Mariner Books, 2002), pp. 108-109.
13. C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, (New York, Macmillan, 1962), pp. 37,38.
14. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pp. 66,67.
15. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 62,63.
16. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 62, 65.
17. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pp. 72,77,79.
18. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pp.133,77.
19. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.139.
20. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.72.
21. Lewis, Reflections on The Psalms, pp. 115,129.
22. Lewis, Reflections on The Psalms, p.110.
23. J.D. Douglas, writing in (Christianity Today, December 20, 1963), p. 27.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com
For more study
The Theology of C. S. Lewis by Dr. Cornelius Van Til