May 21, 2007
N. T. Wright on C. S. Lewis
I don't typically read Touchstone much, but they ran an article by Tom Wright, author of our recent book Evil and the Justice of God. The article is an appraisal of Mere Christianity that is quite interesting, not just for Wright's take on Lewis but also for what Wright models, a spirit of generosity that says, "I don't quite agree, but Lewis's contribution is still good, even if he doesn't exactly say things the way I [Wright] would." Here's a snippet:
I owe Lewis a great debt. In my late teens and early twenties I read everything of his I could get my hands on, and read some of his paperbacks and essays several times over. There are sentences, and some whole passages, I know pretty much by heart. Millions around the world have been introduced to, and nurtured within, the Christian faith through his work where their own preachers and teachers were not giving them what they needed. That was certainly true of me.
. . . One of the puzzles, indeed, is the way in which Lewis has been lionized by Evangelicals when he clearly didn´t believe in several classic Evangelical shibboleths. He was wary of penal substitution, not bothered by infallibility or inerrancy, and decidedly dodgy on justification by faith (though who am I to talk, considering what some in America say about me?).
But above all, it worked; a lot of people have become Christians through reading Lewis and, though, like me, they may have gone on to think things through in ways he didn't, they retain, like me, a massive and glorious indebtedness.
For more, click here.
Posted by Al Hsu
at May 21, 2007 7:12 AM
OK, Al. Fess up. I adore both Lewis and Wright, but I'm also a theologically conservative evangelical.
If I can ask, what about this passage caused you to provide that disclaimer first?
The disclaimer that I don't read Touchstone much? It's not a disclaimer, just a statement of fact. We used to get it at the office, and I'd peruse it occasionally, but I haven't seen an issue for maybe a few years now. Someone forwarded me the link to this article about Wright and Lewis, and I like both of them and Wright's one of our authors, so I thought it blogworthy, since many of our readers are fans of both authors.
I guess I'm not sure what to make of your "but I'm also a theologically conservative evangelical." Is your point that Wright and Lewis are not? Lewis certainly would not have self-identified as an evangelical in the modern American sense, but Wright does. And I myself generally self-identify as a theologically conservative evangelical, but I find that different folks mean different things by "conservative," so it depends on what you mean. Some folks think of Wright as a conservative (in comparison to the Crossans, Borgs and Ehrmans of the world), but others consider him "liberal" or otherwise problematic if the frame of reference is Piper or Mohler or whatnot. At any rate, both Lewis and Wright would stand solidly in the orthodox tradition of Nicene Christianity in general and Anglicanism in particular, and that's where I locate myself as well, regardless of whether anybody considers that "conservative" or "evangelical"!
Actually, let me re-edit my tortuous last sentence in the original post. That should clarify things more. I'm describing Wright's take on Lewis, not my take on either.