C. S. Lewis as Theologian and Christian Philosopher

In recent months I have said a lot about C. S. Lewis. Here is a short summary:

First, I recommend reading John Stott’s Basic Christianity and N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian alongside Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

Second, I state two theological disagreements with Lewis.

Third, I tell how I learned that Lewis really does reject the penal substitutionary atonement.

Fourth, I explain why C. S. Lewis is one of the great philosophers.

Fifth, I explain why C. S. Lewis is one of Christianity’s great rhetoricians.

Sixth, I defend C. S. Lewis from the charge that he is a universalist heretic.

C. S. Lewis’ face again. I’m all out of ideas for captions. (Picture from here)

I think a very, very short summary would be in order. It’s coming up soon. But first we need to make a distinction between two things Christian thinkers can do.

First, there is biblical exegesis, the practice of discovering and explaining what the Bible means.

Second, there is everything else Christian philosophers and theologians do: developing a Christian worldview, understanding Church history, discovering a Christian perspective on everything not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, figuring out how Christianity relates to Plato and other non-Christian philosophers, etc. Since these other modes of Christian thought ought to be guided and governed by good biblical exegesis, I think we could call them “theology” in a broad sense. Another good term is “Christian philosophy” since it includes seeking wisdom in the manner of a Christian.

Now here is the very, very short summary. When it comes to biblical exegesis, I think we should approach C. S. Lewis with a degree of caution. (This is probably true of anyone who doesn’t know Hebrew; it’s certainly true of me!) But when it comes to Christian philosophy, or theology in the broad sense, Lewis is great. He’s among the best of these Christian thinkers, and he might be the most helpful one to write in a century or more–or at least the most helpful one to write in English.

(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)