C.S. Lewis is a loved writer by much of modern Christianity. While almost no one will deny he is a brilliant writer, many people have brought up concerns about his theology. Mike Abendroth of No Compromise Radio said, “let’s just avoid C.S. Lewis, and when someone is quoting C.S. Lewis to you all the time, I worry about them.” (Source). Similarly, in an article from Christianity Today (Back when it was good in 1963), the late Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “C. S. Lewis had a defective view of salvation and was an opponent of the substitutionary and penal view of the atonement.” Todd Friel from Wretched Radio said about Lewis’s beliefs, “I think those are actually some very serious heresies.” (Source). I have some similar concerns when it comes to C.S. Lewis.
- He was very ecumenical towards Roman Catholicism. He adopted many Roman Catholic doctrines and often partnered with Roman Catholics like J.R.R. Tolkein. On page 11 of Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis mentioned having a Roman Catholic advise his writings. “I tried to guard against this [promoting his Anglicanism] by sending the original script of what is now Book II to four clergymen (Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic) and asking for their criticism. The Methodist thought I had not said enough about Faith, and the Roman Catholic thought I had gone rather too far about the comparative unimportance of theories in explanation of the Atonement. Otherwise all five of us were agreed.”
- C.S. Lewis entertained Annihilationism. On page 129 of The Problem of Pain, the man speculated, “But I notice that Our Lord, while stressing the terror of hell with unsparing severity usually emphasises the idea not of duration but of finality. Consignment to the destroying fire is usually treated as the end of the story—not as the beginning of a new story. That the lost soul is eternally fixed in its diabolical attitude we cannot doubt: but whether this eternal fixity implies endless duration—or duration at all—we cannot say.” David Reagan, an annihilationist theologian, cited Lewis as to what caused him to question the Eternality of Hell (Source).
- He denied the historicity of Jonah, Job, and Esther (Source). He makes them out to be allegories instead of literal truth (As the Bible presents them).
- He said that the Genesis origins story came from Pagan myth. About this, he said, “I have therefore no difficulty in 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. We must of course be quite clear what ‘derived from’ means. Stories do not reproduce their species like mice. They are told by men. Each re-teller either repeats exactly what his predecessor had told him or else changes it. He may change it unknowingly or deliberately.” (Reflections on the Psalms, Page 110)
- He believed in the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. On page 108 of Letters to Malcolm, Lewis wrote, “I believe in Purgatory.” Google defines purgatory as, “a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven.” To expiate means to atone for. By defnition, purgatory is a place of works righteouesness, and its existence would mean that Jesus didn’t fully atone for our sins.
- C.S. Lewis taught inclusivism at best. Inclusivism is the teaching that some people will be saved without believing in Jesus, as opposed to the Biblical viewpoint, Exclusivism, which states only those who believe in Jesus will be saved. In Mere Christianity (His second most popular book) on page 178, Lewis wrote, “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 points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position.” We can even see Lewis’s inclusivism at the end of his most popular book, The Chronicles of Narnia, where the lion Aslan (Who is supposed to allegorically represent God) saves people who had never even heard of Aslan. Contrarily, John 3:18 (ESV) says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
- Lewis argued against the essential doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. He said, “The one most people have heard is the one I mentioned before–the one about our being let off because Christ had volunteered to bear a punishment instead of us. Now on the face of it that is a very silly theory. If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person? None at all that I can see, if you are thinking of punishment in the police-court sense. On the the other hand, if you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not.” (Mere Christianity, page 59).
- Lewis taught that the Bible has “inconsistencies”, denying inerrancy. He said in one letter to Clyde S. Kilby, “[There are] apparent inconsistencies between the genealogies in Matt. i and Luke ii; with the accounts of the death of Judas in Matt. xxvii 5 and Acts i 18-19.” In the same letter, he directly ruled out the inerrancy of all of Scripture, saying, “Therefore, I think, rule out the view that any one passage taken in isolation can be assumed to be inerrant in exactly the same sense as any other: e.g., that the numbers of O.T. armies (which in view of the size of the country, if true, involve continuous miracle) are statistically correct because the story of the Resurrection is historically correct.”
C.S. Lewis is loved and respected by many evangelicals, however he taught many heresies that should caution us to quoting Lewis and reading his books. There are better teachers to quote and more edifying books to read. It is more beneficial to quote people who believe in inerrancy, penal substitution, and the exclusivity of Jesus.
[Contributed by Brandon Hines]