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Introduction  As a Christian, I read C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity [MC] with a critical eye towards uncovering Lewis’s concept of what Christianity is, or is not. At one point, Lewis asks for help regarding Christian doctrine [I believe that is what he was asking]. And on this invitation, I will submit the following discourse regarding same. There are several key topics that I would like to address:

  

Lewis’s appeal to a person’s reasoning regarding the nature of Christianity   I believe that the overriding tenor of MC is that a person should apply his reasoning powers in order to discover the true nature of God. Although that line sounds reasonable, I believe that the scriptures teach otherwise. Let me elaborate on this point, if I may. In Isaiah 1:18 , God says, “Come now, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Immediately, God lets man know that he is a lost sinner in need of a Savior. The reasoning that God is referring to does not mean that man must use his reasoning powers to determine anything concerning salvation, save that of surrendering to God’s offer of salvation through His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, there is no analysis concerning anything that is left up to man regarding salvation, except that which God prescribes. 

 

Put another way, man does not determine anything concerning salvation except that of, as Lewis puts it, throwing up the sponge. I know that Lewis does state something to this effect from time to time, but his entire book is laced with statements that may lead the reader to believe otherwise. Moreover, from the Syllogistic Logic of Aristotle to modern man’s works regarding Mathematical Logic, there still remain areas of logic which are, well, illogical. To put it as plain as I can, the best of man’s logical reasoning powers fail miserably when confronted with He who created the universe and everything in it. I cannot improve on this quote from a popular textbook on Logic:

  

“An omniscient being would never employ probable inferences, since every proposition would be known to be certainly true or certainly false. Beings lacking omniscience must rely on probabilities, since their knowledge is incomplete, and probability measures their ignorance” Morris R. Cohen and Ernest Nagel, an introduction to logic, 1934, p.165.

  

For over 2000 years, the greatest minds of this world have labored to invent [or discover?] a working ideal model of human behavior, but we are no closer to “goodness perfection” than when we started. That is why all of Lewis’s rhetoric about “reasoning for goodness’ sake” is flawed from the outset. It is only the changing of a man’s heart that will produce results which we might call ideal, and, of course, this simply leads us back to God’s Ten Commandments, the keeping of the Law. The problem was, in the Old Testament, that man continually broke the Law, and so their sins had to be atoned for once a year. Yet, their sins were not done away with completely, just covered until the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to eradicate their sins forever. 

 

Jesus, by fulfilling the Law that man was unable to keep because of his inherited trait of being able to discern between good and evil that was passed on to him through Adam, became an acceptable sacrifice unto God the Father for the atonement, not only for all the Old Testament saints, but for all the New Testaments saints as well. While Jesus’ physical body was in the tomb, He preached to the saints in Paradise, in the heart of the earth, where they had been since the time of Adam. Imagine their great joy upon seeing their Redeemer at last, come to free them from their confinement in Paradise and being taken up to Heaven! Thus, our present responsibility is to keep the Law, not for salvation’s sake, but to please God. When we fail to keep the Law, as we inevitably will, God is faithful and just to “forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [I John 1:9]. One cannot improve on God’s Law, for it is perfect. 

  

The Process of Salvation   This topic was the most tortuous of all for me to try to comprehend. Not that I did not understand the words that Lewis penned, but I found it difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile his concept of the salvation process with that of the bible. Please note that I am not attacking Lewis for his personal beliefs concerning salvation, but what I must take exception to, is that the scriptures which address this topic are simply not in harmony with what Lewis presents. There is no other topic which is as important as salvation, for without a clear understanding of it, one will miss the glories of Heaven. It would be very tedious and tiring to relate all the passages which Lewis presents as the way of salvation, but at the same time, he does point out that salvation can only come through belief in Jesus Christ [ at least I get this impression ]. That is what is so exasperating. Once this last statement is presented, why include other acts which muddle the picture? As to the process of salvation, one only need to recount what the scriptures teach. In II Corinthians 7:10, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians about godly sorrow that leads to repentance. But before this takes place, we must realize that it is God’s Holy Spirit which convicts a person about his lost condition. 

 

Secondly, the scriptures teach that God gives everyone a measure of faith, a natural inquisitiveness and capacity to believe in a Supreme Being. At this point, a repentant sinner will admit his need for a Savior and will accept God’s offer of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. Thirdly, the Holy Spirit will then present this repentant soul to God the Father for salvation. And the Father, knowing the true intent of the lost sinner’s heart, will either accept or reject him. If He accepts him, then he turns this soul over to Jesus, who promises He will “in no wise cast him out”. That is the salvation process in a nutshell – and it does not, I repeat, it does not involve a person trying to continually get better and better [do more good]. Throughout his book, Lewis writes about man being “good”, instead of being “godly”, but God says that “there is none that doeth good”. Finally, it is through the power of preaching that salvation comes about, whether that comes in a formal gathering or through a Christian on a street corner. Again, there are myriads of scripture that establish this process in the bible. 

  

Transubstantiation      The period from 1553 to 1558 AD marked one of the most shameful periods in the history of the British Empire. With the advent of Mary Tudor to the throne, over 300 innocent Christians were executed, arising primarily from their refusal to submit to this heretical dogma of transubstantiation. [See this topic covered in detail in my Mystery Babylon and the Two Beasts]. Certainly, Lewis must have been familiar with Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, but he did not support Christians concerning this belief. Quite the contrary, he takes the Roman priests’ position of suggesting that Christians are not only somehow “more Christ-like” as a consequence of obeying it, but that new Christians are propagated  through this cannibalistic act.  It is thus very clear that Lewis believes in Transubstantiation. This belief was so abhorrent to the early believers that they chose to be burned at the stake rather than submit to this heretical dogma. This dogma, born of the Roman Catholic church, contaminated other denominations as well. Even the Pharisees were so shocked and horrified at this cannibalistic act that they separated themselves from Jesus because of it. 

 

And yet its explanation is so simple that a just born-again believer can see this Roman Catholic church dogma for what it really is, and contrariwise, that the elements of the Lord’s Supper, which Christians observe , are simply symbolic, and not physical. Believing in transubstantiation is believing that Christ is not seated at the right-hand of the Father in Heaven, but is continually being sacrificed and consumed24/7 all over the world. And Lewis believes that this is part of a believer’s continuing salvation and propagation. Any Christian familiar with the reality of this ritual will readily agree that Mr. Lewis has done a great disservice to the cause of Christianity in this. Please refer to the testimony of  Mrs. Prest below.

  

Evolution       To my knowledge, in over 28 years of being saved, I have never once met a single born-again believer admit they believe that they descended from apes, orangutans, chimpanzees, or any other monkey-like creature. In fact, a simple reading of God’s Holy Word lets us know what the origin of man is, and what the origin of woman is. It really boils down to the fact that one either believes the bible, and that being based on the textus receptus exclusively , or he doesn’t.  And it's not like one can read the Word and not understand the purely historical account which God gives us in His Word, for God tells us plainly that some, knowing the truth, deliberately chose [ and choose ] to not subscribe to it. Thus, to believe in the evolution which Charles Darwin suggests in the Origin of the Species is to hold a position diametrically opposed to God, and merits the fate which God describes in Romans 1:18-32.   Which brings us up to some statements made by Lewis concerning evolution:

 

“…Transformation. The nearest parallel to it in the world of nature is to be found in the remarkable transformations we can make in insects by applying certain rays to them. Some people think this is how Evolution worked. The alterations in creatures on which it all depends may have been produced by rays coming from outer space. (Of course once the alterations are there, what they call ‘Natural Selection’ gets to work on them: i.e. the useful alterations survive and the other ones get weeded out.) 

 “ Perhaps a modern man can understand the Christian idea best if he takes it in connection with Evolution. Everyone now knows about Evolution (though, of course, some educated people disbelieve it): everyone has been told that man has evolved from lower types of life. Consequently, people often wonder ‘What is the next step? When is the thing beyond man going to appear?’ Imaginative writers try sometimes to picture this next step -the ‘Superman’ as they call him; but they usually only succeed in picturing someone a good deal nastier than man as we know him and then try to make up for that by sticking on extra legs or arms. But supposing the next step was to be something even more different from the earlier steps than they ever dreamed of? And is it not very likely it would be? Thousands of centuries ago huge, very heavily armoured creatures were evolved.  …“

“ At the earlier stages living organisms have had either no choice or very little choice about taking the new step. Progress was, in the main, something that happened to them, not something that they did. ”

“ Century by century God has guided nature up to the point of producing creatures which can (if they will) be taken right out of nature, turned into ‘gods’  

Never once does Lewis mention the real origin of man in the Genesis account, but instead attempts to infuse the theory of evolution as the principal agent, in fact, the only agent, concerning the origin of man.    Lewis asserts that man undergoes a transformation from animal [for Lewis flatly states that we humans are animals - not distinguishing that only man has a soul] into a higher form of species.   Again, I have never met a born-again Christian that had this sort of warped imagination.  Once again, Mr. Lewis may believe what he wants to believe, but he certainly does not speak for the Christians that I am familiar with.  

  

Faith      As a simple observation, and I believe other readers will concur with me, is that Lewis presents a reason-based Christianity, as opposed to a faith-based Christianity. It matters not a whit whether Christianity is reasonable or not [recall the manifold supernatural events recorded in the bible that certainly were not reasonable according to man’s reasoning]. Faith is present at the time of salvation and extends throughout the life of the believer. Moreover, contrary to Lewis’ assertion that man can lose his salvation, God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is an irrevocable act, and is of eternal duration. Any new Christian can readily supply the scriptures which establish this. For those who cannot do so, more extensive reading of the Word is warranted. “Enduring till the end” does not refute the eternal salvation which God grants [the understanding for this supposed contra belief to the eternal security of the believer is found in Matthew, chapter 24:13, where one should understand that these words were meant for the Jewish nation of Israel that will be living at the time of the Tribulation].   This is transparent. 

 

 

                                                                                                     Conclusion

 

 I tried to read MC as objectively as I could, but found many other topics which go against the grain of mainstream Christianity than the ones I have covered.   I think that the problem with MC stems mostly from Lewis’ attempt to present Christianity in layman terms, and it simply doesn’t work. God never meant for His Word to be watered down so that it could be more palatable.  It is interesting that an apostate by the name of Origen of the Alexandrian School attempted to do the same thing in his writings, which I have.   Any book that attempts to present Christianity without using scripture is doomed to failure, for only the Word of God can provide the spiritual understanding necessary for salvation.   Mother Goose and Grimm’s Fairy Tales do not qualify as acceptable substitutes. If the reader is interested in Christianity, let him consult  a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, for there is no such thing as a pablum Christianity. 

 

 

Footnote

 

 [ 1 ] It is very difficult to convey the import of the transubstantiation ritual as observed by the Roman Catholic church, unless one can appeal to the words of some of the martyrs for Christ. But it is a historical fact, recorded by John Foxe, that many, many other Christians besides Mrs. Prest gladly went to the stake to be consumed by the flames while still alive rather than submit to belief in this heretical dogma. What follows is but a portion of Mrs. Prest’s testimony: 

 

The bishop bringing the question to issue, respecting the bread and wine being flesh and blood, Mrs. Prest said: “ I will demand of you whether you can deny your creed, which says, that Christ doth perpetually sit at the right hand of His Father, both body and soul, until He come again; or whether He be there in heaven our Advocate, and to make prayer for us unto God His Father? If He be so, He is not here on earth in a piece of bread. If He be not here, and if He do not dwell in temples made with hands, but in heaven, what! Shall we seek Him here? If He did not offer His body once for all, why make you a new offering? If with one offering He made all perfect, why do you with a false offering make all imperfect? If He be to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, why do you worship a piece of bread? If He be eaten and drunken in faith and truth, if His flesh be not profitable to be among us, why do you say you make Him flesh and blood, and say it is profitable for body and soul? Alas! I am a poor woman, but rather than to do as you do, I would live no longer. I have said, Sir.

  

[ Further questioning and answers ]

 

“ Why, thou foolish woman,” said they, “we come to thee for thy profit and soul’s health.” To which she replied, “What profit ariseth by you, that teach nothing but lies for truth? How save you souls, when you preach nothing but lies, and destroy souls?” “How provest thou that?” said they.  Do you not destroy your souls, when you teach the people to worship idols, stocks, and stones, the work of men’s hands? And to worship a false God of your own making of a piece of bread, and teach that the pope is God’s vicar, and hath power to forgive sins? And that there is a purgatory, when God’s Son hath by His passion purged all? And say you make God and sacrifice Him, when Christ’s body was a sacrifice once for all? Do you not teach the people to number their sins in your ears, and say they will be damned if they confess not all; when God’s Word saith, who can number his sins? Do you not promise them trentals and dirges and Masses for souls, and sell your prayers for money, and make them buy pardons, and trust to such foolish inventions of your imaginations? Do you not altogether act against God? Do you not teach us to pray upon beads, and to pray unto saints, and say they can pray for us? Do you not make holy water and holy bread to fray devils? Do you not do a thousand more abominations? And yet you say, you come for my profit, and to save my soul. No, no, one hath saved me. Farewell, you with your salvation. 

 

[ Further discourse between Mrs. Prest and her accusers ]

 

Being delivered to the sheriff, she was led by the officer to the place of execution, without the walls of Exeter, called Sothenhey, where again the superstitious priests assaulted her. While they were tying her to the stake, she continued earnestly to exclaim, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” Patiently enduring the devouring conflagration, she was consumed to ashes, and thus ended a life which in unshaken fidelity to the cause of Christ, was not surpassed by that of any preceding martyr. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, pp. 345-349.

 

Queen Elizabeth I of England was so moved by Foxe’s Book of Martyrs that she ordered a copy of this book be placed in the “Common halls of archbishops, bishops, deans, etc., and in all the colleges and chapels throughout the kingdom”. Did C.S. Lewis miss something here? 

 

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