Theological Foibles

Tim Kimberley over at Parchment and Pen, viagra has been doing a series on the top ten theologians. If you haven’t checked it out you should. So far he’s done Irenaeus, viagra Karl Barth and Anselm.

Today’s theologian is C.S. Lewis. After giving us background into Lewis’ life, and an overview of his thought, Tim then talks about Lewis’ “theological foibles.”

Quoting John Piper, he writes:

He doesn’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, and defaults to logical arguments more naturally than to biblical exegesis. He doesn’t treat the Reformation with respect, but thinks it could have been avoided, and calls aspects of if farcical. He steadfastly refused in public or in letters to explain why he was not a Roman Catholic but remained in the Church of England. He makes room for at least some people to be saved through imperfect representations of Christ in other religions. He made a strong logical, but I think unbiblical, case for free will to explain why there is suffering in the world. He speaks of the atonement with reverence, but puts little significance on any of the explanations for how it actually saves sinners.

If those are some “theological foibles”, then I may be in trouble.

More Hoopla over the C.S. Lewis Bible

Way back in September I wrote about the newest novelty Bible: The C.S. Lewis Bible. I commented on the publisher’s marketing ploy that this new Bible would provide fresh insights into the writings of Lewis, viagra sale and I talked about how it is just another example of marketing the Bible to make it about “what we want.”

I really thought the hoopla about this Bible was over in September. And then I read an article over at Christianity Today this morning, physician where the hoopla continues because the publishing company is supposedly not being faithful to Lewis because of the Bible translation they chose to pair with his writings. That’s right, C.S. Lewis is supposedly spinning in his grave because the publishers chose the NRSV translation instead of the KJV.

Quoting Leland Ryken, the article states:
“The choice of the NRSV, of which HarperCollins is the U.S. publisher, seems to have been a marketing decision rather than a logical choice,” Ryken said.

Um, the whole project is a marketing decision, and not a logical choice.

Being “Cautious” of Mere Christianity

Kevin DeYoung over at TGC has a post up about why we should be cautious of C.S. Lewis. The reason: Lewis wasn’t an evangelical (the shock! the horror!) The reason he wasn’t an evangelical: he didn’t hold to penal substitution as THE model for the atonement; and he might have been an inclusivist. The reason for the post is that several days ago, seek DeYoung collated a list of the most influential books for Reformed evangelicals (based on submissions from comments). Mere Christianity made the list, sickness and he said that that was okay, but only with several “cautions”. So today’s post was the cautions.

A few observations:

1. No book is perfect. It is fine to offer cautions, concerns, dislikes and disagreements with a book. But to single out one and not have cautions for the others simply because they are part of the “acceptable” literature (i.e., reformed, evangelical, calvinist) is unfair. One of the books on his list was Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (It came in at number 2!). There are several (okay, more than several) cautions that could and should be offered for that book. But it gets a free pass.

2. Being evangelical does not mean holding penal substitution as THE only model for the atonement. Kevin DeYoung suggests that Lewis’ model of the atonement is more like the Christus Victor model, as if that is a bad thing. Evangelicals hold to a wide-ranging understanding of the atonement. To be evangelical does not mean having to embrace only one. (For the record: I tend to a more Kaleidoscope view of the atonement and if I had to choose a close second it would be a Christus Victor view).

3. We need to be careful with throwing around a charge of inclusivism. The term Inclusivism is like the term semi-Pelagianism: people like to use the term as a weapon, but most of the time they don’t understand the term, and they don’t fully understand the argument that the supposed “inclusivist” is making. That being said, evangelicals affirm two Scripture verses that would seem to point to an inclusivist theology: John 3:16 — Jesus died for the WHOLE world; and Roman 14:11 (see also Philippians 2:10) — one day EVERY knee will bow and tongue confess Jesus as Lord. What that looks like and how that will play out is beyond our understanding (and should be).

Anyway, check out the post. Add your voice to the conversation going on over there.

Narnia

I had a friend yell at me because I have not yet seen any of the Narnia movies. It’s true. I haven’t seen them. And I don’t plan to. I like movies, order don’t get me wrong, cheap and I like faithful movie adaptations of novels. But I cannot bring myself to watch the Narnia movies. I don’t want to compromise the picture of Narnia I have in my head. One of my favourite memories of reading the Narnia series was letting my imagination run away with itself. In my imagination I entered the land of Narnia. I could smell it, taste it, feel it. I don’t want anything to disturb those memories.

There is an interesting article about how the Narnia movies miss the point of C.S. Lewis’ stories. And seeing the trailer for Dawn Treader, I wonder if they’ve missed the point in this new movie as well.

Steven Boyer, in writing about how the movies get it wrong, says this:

The Peter we meet in the film version of Prince Caspian is a very different Peter from the one we saw grow up in the earlier film and certainly very different from the one in Lewis’s story. In the first place, it is hard to describe Hollywood’s Peter as anything other than a bumbler. He is not part of the deliverance that comes from the blowing of Queen Susan’s magic horn. He is instead part of the problem, a stupid, proud, boorish, arrogant fool who speaks and acts with ridiculous vanity and, far from delivering others, needs to be delivered himself. His arrogance and vanity are explicitly highlighted in the film:

• We first encounter Peter as the cause of a brawl in a London subway, which he started simply because someone bumped him.
• Once in Narnia, Peter sets out to lead the other children and gets hopelessly lost, but he keeps insisting (with stereotypical male vanity), “I’m not lost,” “We weren’t lost,” etc.
• When he finally assumes command of the Narnians and then is confronted by Lucy, who tries to talk sense into him and get him to wait patiently for Aslan, he condescendingly replies, “I think it’s up to us now. . . . We’ve waited for Aslan long enough.”
• In the enemy castle, in the midst of their failed attack, Peter stupidly and obstinately refuses to call for retreat, crying out instead, “No, I can still do this!”—which prompts Susan to ask, “Exactly who are you doing this for, Peter?”
These instances could easily be multiplied. At every point, the Peter of Hollywood’s Prince Caspian is the problem, not the solution. The high king of Narnia seems to have devolved into a young, handsome version of Homer Simpson…
In Lewis’s telling of all of the Narnia tales, the children’s experiences as kings and queens in Narnia consistently transform them into nobler, more virtuous people in their own world. They are not spoiled children wanting to be kings again; they are noble kings who carry that very nobility back into their non-royal roles as schoolchildren.
But not so in Hollywood. To be a king at all is to hunger for power forevermore, like a tiger that has tasted human blood and ever afterwards is a “man-eater.” To lose imperial power by being transported back to England is to become a bitter, sullen, acrimonious brat. That is just what Peter has become, and his folly is the driving force behind most of the action in the movie.

I was struck by Peter’s above-noted comment, “I think it’s up to us now. . . . We’ve waited for Aslan long enough.” A certain king in the Old Testament said the same thing about waiting for the prophet Samuel to come and offer the sacrifice, that the foolish king chose to go ahead and do it himself. In Scripture, this impatience led to the withdrawal of the Lord’s favour, and ultimately to disaster for the royal house (1 Samuel 13:1-14).

And so, not only do I not want to see the Narnia movies for fear of smashing the picture in my head, I am also hesitant to see them if they miss the whole point of the Narnia series altogether.