WHO WAS C. S. LEWIS?
What did he teach? Why are his writings so popular? From time to time, I receive requests to explain this man, his writings, and his thinking. There is good reason to provide you with a brief sketch of C. S. Lewis; for, over half a century, he has been remarkably influential among Protestants. They want to read his theological works and novels, and want their children to read his fairy stories.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Clive Stapes Lewis (1898-1963) was a British author who wrote more than 30 books. Since his death in 1963, sales of his books have risen to 2 million a year. Many Protestants, especially Evangelicals, consider him the most influential writer in their lives- yet in a number of ways he was neither Protestant nor Evangelical.
This brief overview reveals that, although C. S. Lewis was an extremely powerful writer, he was not really a Christian.
A lay member of the Church of England, Lewis taught English at Oxford University for years and, in his spare time, wrote articles and books. Lewis viewed the atonement as a type of Roman Catholic penitence rather than having any element of Messianic substitution involved. When speaking of the forgiveness of sins, he never referred to justification or sanctification. They were not in his thinking.
He did not think that baptism amounted to much, and he believed there were errors in the Bible. Lewis was careful not to let many know that he believed in purgatory,-a pet theory of his, that many who died unsaved might later be redeemed in the fires of purgatory.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a leading Evangelical of his time, declared that C. S. Lewis was not a Christian at all. His closest friends were Anglo-Catholics (pro-Catholic members of the Church of England) and Roman Catholics. He may well have been a secret Catholic, although there is no certainty of that. A member of the "high" Anglican Church, Lewis regularly went to confession. He smoked a pipe all his life.
Yet Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, are especially enamored with Lewis. They love his books- buy, read, re-read, and quote from them all the time. Why is this?
C. S. Lewis had outstanding writing ability. He could turn a phrase in such a way that it intrigued minds which came upon it. Shakespeare had this ability also.
Yet that talent did not render the content of either writer as heavenly truth. Indeed, an excellent writer can be highly used of the devil to mislead souls and divert them from the true path leading to eternal life.
Have you noticed that people are fascinated with clever phrases or mysterious words? In some respects, they are still children. Yet, if you would find the best writing style, you need only turn to the Spirit of Prophecy. It is outstanding -because it was written for but one purpose: to explain divine truth. The sentences are clear, the words-are understood-, the concepts profound in meaning- yet understandable to simple folk such as you and me. Thank God for the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy!
The present writer believes that, if the Christians generally knew about the Spirit of Prophecy, they never would have become enamored with C. S. Lewis.
Lewis blended logic and imagination in mind-catching ways. He made sentences into metaphorical illustrations, and illustrations into teaching devices. Upon reading his writings, people search for hidden meanings; and, if they think they have found something, they flatter themselves that they have come upon a deep truth. Yet, considering the source, how could Lewis produce any worthwhile truths for Christians?
C. S. Lewis, who deeply believed in the Tao (an oriental pagan religious concept), also loved fantasy. So he wrote weird fairy tales for children about a mythical planet, called Narnia. For adults, he wrote science fiction (Out of the Silent Planet, etc.).
His Screwtape Letters (1942) made him famous.
Maleldil, Asian, and the unnamed divinity who confronts Orual -and a host of other mythical characters are in Lewis' seven Narnia books. Parents imagine they teach Christian principles while the books lead their children into fantasy, which will later blossom into cravings for liquor, wild music, and hard drugs.
Here is a single sampling of the thinking underlying the writings of C. S. Lewis. It is totally unchristian:
"This. . Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical reason or the First Platitudes is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. . The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. . What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) 'ideologies,' all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they possess. . The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves."
The adulation, which the Protestant world has paid to C. S. Lewis, -and continues to pay - is astounding. It reveals how spiritually bankrupt modern Protestants and Evangelicals are, that they avidly read and reread Lewis' books and purchase his fairy tales for their children to devour.
The Spirit of Prophecy warned us that much of what is published in these last days compares with the frogs of Egypt. Both cover the land and desolate it.
Books can be immoral. They can also be useless. Consider what could have been accomplished if our own publishing houses had, for the past several decades, published powerful books which energized the soul, helped our people deepen their experience with Christ, carefully instructed them in our historic teachings and standards, and motivated them to stand by our precious heritage and share it with others.