Here at the Credo House in Edmond Oklahoma, Tim Kimberley (@pastortimk) and I are teaching a series on the top theologians of church history on Tuesday nights. I have insisted that C.S. Lewis be part of the mix due to his abiding theological influence on so many people today. Though he is called a “lay” theologian by many, in my mind, he is nothing less than a theological giant due to his contributions to apologetics at the academic and popular levels. (After all, apologetics is a subset of theology and C.S. Lewis, though a professor of literature, did teach philosophy for two years at Oxford!) We taught to a packed house with people sitting on the floor. Why? Because they all love C.S. Lewis. When asked how many had read C.S. Lewis, just about every hand in Credo went up. He is an evangelical hero who, theologically speaking, may not make the cut of evangelicalism today. Truthfully, I don’t think he ever liked the label himself. But he is loved by evangelicals nonetheless. In fact, he is loved across denominational and traditional lines. Christianity Today named Lewis’ Mere Christianity as the most influential book of the 20th century. Another evangelical magazine, Christian History, named him among the top ten most influential Christians of the 20th century. Whether you are an emerger or an evangelical, Baptist or Presbyterian, a cessationist or continuationist, a Calvinist or an Arminian (not that all of these are mutually exclusive), C.S. Lewis is not only kosher, but staple. In fact, even Pope John Paul II said that Lewis’ The Four Loves was one of his favorite books!

However, C.S. Lewis was not without “issues” that cause many to scratch their heads. Practically, he liked to smoke a pipe and cigarettes, and frequently enjoyed a beer at his bi-weekly “Inklings” meetings (and you know how bent out of shape people can get over those things!). Theologically, there is some stuff people try to sweep under the rug as well. In fact, though I say C.S. Lewis is loved by all, I do remember walking into church one day years ago. They were giving away a bunch of the “overstock” books from the library. I saw a church elder throwing away a lot of books as well. They were all C.S. Lewis! When I inquired about his odd blasphemous actions, he said that C.S. Lewis was a heretic because he did not believe in inerrancy. While this is something of an extreme example, I think it is important to realize that not everyone likes C.S. Lewis. Almost everyone, but not all. Why? Because he had some “non-evangelical” leanings. Besides not believing in inerrancy, he also believed in the theory of evolution, denied substitutionary atonement in favor of a “ransom to Satan,” bordered on a Pelagian idea of human freedom, seemed to advocate baptismal regeneration, and regularly prayed for the dead. To top it all off, he held out hope for the destiny of the unevangelized, believing that Christ might save them outside of direct knowledge of him (inclusivism). With all of these foibles, I seriously doubt any evangelical church would take a second look at his resume were he to apply for a pastorate at their church today. In fact, this list alone would be enough for many to call him a heretic. However, we still love him. We still read him. We still defend him. We still hand out his books by the dozens to friends and family who are struggling with their faith. This man who had his Christianity affirmed by Dr. Bob Jones but questioned by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is beloved by just about everyone, making him off-limits for serious criticism. Why?

Consider another man: Rob Bell. From what I have read and seen, he seems to have far fewer theological problems than C.S. Lewis. In fact, on paper, he is probably more evangelical than C.S. Lewis. He might even make it through the interview process at most evangelical churches. He, like Lewis, has written many works about the Christian faith. His latest book, Love Wins, is a runaway bestseller. However, evangelicals don’t like Rob Bell. He is not beloved. His writings are not handed out like tracts, except for in niche groups. He does not have broad Christian appeal. In fact, he may be the most hated Christian author alive (at least in some circles). Why? Well, on the tip of your tongue is this: because he believes in universalism (the idea that all will be saved). Well, maybe not “believes,” but he does hold out hope for such. Rob Bell supporters often appeal to C.S. Lewis, stating that he believed similar stuff as Rob Bell (in as far as holding out hope for unbelievers relates to inclusivism). In fact, Rob Bell seems to love and be inspired by C.S. Lewis in his thoughts and ideas.

Here comes the question I got Tuesday night a the Credo House “Coffee and Theology” study: “So why do we love C.S. Lewis but hate Rob Bell?”

This is the great question I hope to answer briefly.

First of all, no one hates Rob Bell (or at least, no one should). But, speaking for myself, I am very comfortable handing out C.S. Lewis books by the dozens, while I don’t keep a stock of Bell’s books on hand. There is not a book that Lewis wrote that I don’t encourage people to read and grow from. Even A Grief Observed, where Lewis attempts to retain his faith in God while questioning everything in the middle of a crucible of doubt and pain, is one of my favorite books to give to people who are hurting. But I doubt I would ever recommend one of Bell’s works to establish someone in the faith. In fact, I might only recommend them for people to see “the other side.” Let me put it this way (and I must be very careful here): While I fully embrace and endorse the ministry of C.S. Lewis, I do not endorse or embrace the ministry of Rob Bell.

You see, while C.S. Lewis has a great deal of theological foibles, his ministry is defined by a defense of the essence of the Gospel. The essence of who Christ is and what he did are ardently upheld by Lewis, saturating every page of his books. His purpose was clear: to make a compelling case the reality of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. All other things set aside, this is what you leave with every time you read Lewis. The problematic areas are peripheral, not central. One has to look hard to find the departures from traditional Protestant Christianity. They are not the subjects of his works and do not form the titles of his books.

However, with Rob Bell, the essence of who Christ is and what he did seems to be secondary. One has to look for those things as they weed through his defenses of non-traditional Christianity. Whereas Lewis’ ultimate purpose is to define and defend “mere” Christianity, Bell’s “mere” Christianity is but a footnote to a redefined Christianity. Bell’s focus is to challenge, question, change, reform, and emerge from traditions that bind us. Traditional apologetics, orthodoxy, and foundations are brought into question from beginning to end. Christ’s reality, deity, exclusivity, and the hope of the Gospel proclaimed receive an occasional footnote (if at all) from Bell.

Another way to put this is to say that in the ministry of C.S. Lewis, the central truths of the Christian faith are the chorus of his songs, with the occasional problem in the stanzas. However, with Bell, the chorus of his song is filled with challenges to traditional Christianity and if you listen really closely to the stanza, you might get an occasional line of orthodoxy.

Now, let me be straight. I have no problem with challenging traditions. I have no problem with questions, doubts, and reforms. I think we all need this. It is the essence of what we call semper reformanda (at least in a modified form). However, when your ministry is characterized and defined by this type of emerging reform and unsettled skepticism of traditional Christianity, you have stepped over the line and lost yourself and your right to have godly influence. As the old saying goes, “think out loud, but don’t think out loud from a platform.” Just because you are unsettled and questioning your faith does not mean you need to unsettle others.

And it is not just Rob Bell that is at issue. There are dozens of popular writers, pastors, bloggers, and authors who are singing the same chorus. They give lip service to the essence of Christianity, but from their platform it is only peppered in here and there. I think this is the core problem with what is/was known as the “emerging church.” It is not that we are against rethinking, reimagining, reforming, or any other “re,” it is that this became the central focus of the movement. Christ, the cross, sin, righteousness, and all other elements that create the essence of who we are became the subjects of challenges – mere lines in the song. This is why I distinguish between, say, Brian Mclaren and Dan Kimball.  Both men, early on, were considered part of the “emerging church.” However, though he challenges some ideas here and there, Dan Kimball (like C.S. Lewis) is committed to the essence of the historic Christian faith. Truth, doctrine, love, and righteousness are found in everything he writes and says. They are the chorus. With Mclaren, on the other hand, traditional Christian beliefs and practices form more of (what seems to be) an embarrassing afterthought that he proclaims only under duress.

This is why I don’t like comparing C.S. Lewis to Rob Bell. There is no comparison. Neither is it fair to team Rob Bell up with many of the great saints of the past, such as the Cappidocians or Origen (as is often done). Yes, they all have problems, but the question is, Do these problems define the essence of their ministry and passion? With Rob Bell (and many like him), they do. With most of the other historic figures that some try to put on Bell’s team, they don’t.

What can Bell do about this? I seriously doubt he is looking for advice from me, but here is what I would do if I were his campaign manager. I would tell him to take his cue from Lewis. Focus most of your works on defending the foundational issues of historic Christian truth. Those things that have been believed “always, everywhere, and by all.” Whether it is the existence of God, the exclusivity of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, or the sinfulness of man, these are all good points that give street cred. If you are going to claim the legacy of Origen, the Cappidocians, or Lewis, embrace the essence of their ministry, not the periphery of their thought. And, just to be fair, if Lewis would have moved his foibles from his back pocket to his front pocket, he would not be accepted much either.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    131 replies to "Why Do We Love C.S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell?"

    • I would not consider Anglicanism to be just a sect of the Henry the VIII. He was after all the King and Sovereign of England even when the Church was then under Rome. But indeed the Church of England under Henry, and Cromwell went toward the Reformation. But then too the whole later Tractarian and Oxford Movement, etc. Though certainly the CoE and much of the Anglican Communion has fallen into liberal and broad church ideas. Though Lewis himself of course stood against much of this in his time.

    • Saskia

      Yes, I see your point. As I said, I was painting with a pretty broad brush (also “sect” was the wrong choice of word.”)

    • Rick

      If I wasn’t Presbyterian, I would probably be Anglican.

    • Since I am semi-retired now (and in the US), I have gotten to preach at a few Presbyterian Churches, but then I am somewhat Reformed, but I like some aspects of the Federal Vision (note some).

      Sadly, it appears today that C.S. Lewis is being used to support all kinds of said stuff, I heard an emergent claim the other day, that Lewis was one in his camp. However ecclectic Lewis may have been (and he was), he was always an historical Anglican. Btw, he wrote against women “priestess’s” as he called them.

    • Ed Vasicek

      There is another big difference between CS Lewis and Bell: C. S. Lewis moved from agnosticism to faith in Jesus Christ — his direction was toward belief. Bell is beginning with sound doctrine and moving AWAY from it. Will the direction continue, as happened with McClaren?

    • Jeff Ayers

      Being an Independent Fundamental Bible Believing Baptist for nearly 30 years, I found the idea of universalism to be at best ridiculous theologically and at worst apostasy.

      Knowing the Bible is filled with phrases like eternal judgement, everlasting fire, Hell fire, everlasting destruction, smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever etc.

      But I have been studying (berean?) with an open mind, the possibility of universalism or annihilationism for the last few years.

      I still hold to a traditional view of Hell and the lake of fire for all those who do not believe on Christ for eternal life. But i hold out the possibility that:
      THe lost will burn in Hell upon death and through the Millennium
      The lost will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgement and cast into the lake of fire.
      BUT the lake of fire is never said to be ever lasting and without end.
      And the 100’s of verses that seem to imply universalism will take effect and in the eternal state they will be reconciled.

      What was the first of the hundred + verses that made me pause and think?

      Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

      Is it sound exegesis to say the first “many” means every one and the second “every” means only a few or the elect?

    • mbaker

      I wonder at the support of C.S. Lewis stuff too as being so theologically on in so many folks minds in the modern day church,especially since he wasn’t a church father. Of course that could go for any of the modern day popular authors.

    • Though C.S. Lewis was not an exegetical Church Father, he was and is still a theological Father, a voyager of the Spirit…a “Dawn Treader”! 🙂

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    • Joshua

      Lewis didn’t deny inerrancy so much as not give a flip about it. It just wasn’t an issue for him. He was smart enough to realize that not every dot and tittle of doctrine has to be pressed into completely clear, sytematic forms – things like the atonement, nature of the afterlife, etc. He simply had faith in Christ, and realized one didn’t have to work out every detail.

      I wish people read more of his stuff than Mere Christianity. That was probably the weakest thing he wrote.

    • Jason Pratt

      I do have to call a bit of coup on the claim that Lewis was not a systematic thinker. He didn’t do much with systematic exegetics, true, but the author of Miracles: A Preliminary Study, his magnum opus of apologetics, was a systematic metaphysician (which fits his philosophy degree.)

      Lewis is one of the few apologists I know of who wrote a book that moved from point to point developing a philosophical argument, rather than a salad-bar approach where there are chapters on various arguments but no attempt is made to fit them together. Even his “broadcast talks” series, modified and expanded a bit for the first couple of sections to Mere Christianity, is a systematic progression, albeit of a much simpler sort. (Ditto for The Problem of Pain.) Even his first theological work The Pilgrim’s Regress, despite its heavily poetic form, is a systematic progression, and a deep on if (naturally) not as detailed as his later work would be.

      Admittedly, a lot of his work wasn’t systematic per se–although even in his brief articles and sermons he can often be found chewing through an argument in systematic progression, within limitations of the format. But to dismiss him as a systematic thinker because he never got around to doing a systematic exegetic, is as inaccurate as it would be to dismiss him as a mystical writer.

    • Matt

      Why does anyone care what John MacArthur and Rob Bell think? I’m (obviously) not a fan of either, but at least Bell doesn’t promote himself as an expert/professional exegete. MacArthur implies that his system and interpretations are on par with the authority of scripture. Hogwash.

    • There is a big difference between being a “systematic thinker”, and a “Systematic Theologian”. Lewis is certainly the former, but not the latter. I am very Lewis friendly (I have read almost all of Lewis’s books, both fiction and non-fiction). Lewis just does not really enter the dialogue or debate of either Systematic Theology, or really biblical exegesis.

      Btw, when Lewis entered into the debate on reason (the Oxford Socratic Club) with Elizabeth Anscombe, he later revised his argument in the second edition of his book Miracles. She seemed to get the best of Lewis here. Just a point. Later in this edition, Lewis fell back on J.B.S. Haldane’s book: Possible Worlds (quoted in the second edition of Miracles, p. 15). See Victor Reppert’s book: C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea, In Defense of the Argument from Reason, (IVP, 2003).

    • Steve Dykstra

      What is Rob Bell? What is CS Lewis?
      For you are of Christ, and Christ is of God

    • Btw, we can note that even in his time, Lewis saw that theology was being penetrated by political ideology: “Mark my words: you will presently see both a Leftist and a Rightist pseudo theology developing…” Letters of C.S. Lewis, 176; 17 Jan. 40.

    • Alan Coughlin

      You’ve raised some great issues here! We’ve all heard the saying, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” But most seem unclear about where to draw those lines between essential and non-essential. If we look more intently into scripture on this subject (I think First John is a great place to start), we will reap the benefits of greater unity among the brethren and increased holiness as we root out false teachers.

      I believe Rob Bell false squarely in the latter class. His teachings are insidious; we must not fail to notice the presuppositions that underly all of his teaching. I bring this out in a review I did of Rob Bell’s NOOMA video series –

    • J

      The things that C.S. Lewis gets wrong he does not expand on or ‘teach’ about through his books. He primarily gives additional perspective on life in a very logically supported fashion. Often showing a deep life-faith-thinking relationship with Christianity.

      Like the Screwtape Letters, lets say that evil and demons are nothing at all like that– But the lessons to be learned in our attitude and approach to sin is still valid. From what I have heard about Rob Bell’s recent book, this is not the case; if the premiss is incorrect, then it is all worthless and/or dangerous material.

    • Indeed if we loose the doctrine of God, we simply lose God. And here Bell and Lewis are worlds apart! Therefore we must seek a Christology that is not popular or palatable, but that is biblical and true. Agreed here is 1 John! God, Godhead, and our fellowship therein. But only the real Incarnate Christ can get us there… “We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” ( John 1:3)

    • […] that reason, I was very intrigued with an article by Michael C. Patton at Credo House, Why Do We Love C. S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell? (A sentiment I don’t share, by the […]

    • Adam Miller

      Thanks for this article. It’s important that we’re fair and honest on the issues. Still, I’m a huge fan of Lewis, not because his theology was 100% but because he new to seek after God.

    • Indeed we must or should read Lewis, but certainly not as a Systematic Theologian. But sadly Rob Bell is not a systematic thinker or theolog!

    • Batreader

      . . . And why do we ‘hate’ Rob Bell but love John Stott with his view on hell . . .

    • Well that’s easy, John Stott was an English Anglican! 😉

    • Miguel

      Good article, but keep in mind that baptismal regeneration is not an un-orthodox or non-protestant theology. The vast majority of Christians worldwide and historically have accepted this teaching, which is common in Anglican circles and standard in Lutheran. By many standards, Lewis is MORE orthodox on this point, not less. If you hold to Baptist theology of the sacraments, you must be willing to acknowledge you are potentially on the fringe of orthodoxy on that point, given the lack of historical precedent. Denial of baptistmal regeneration is a comparatively recent novelty, at least on the scale of popularity that it enjoys now.

    • Tom Hardy

      I have to admit that I have read and enjoyed some of Lewis’s books. In the last while however having seen some of the things he believes. I can no longer in good conscience recommend his writings to anyone.
      This isn’t taking away anything he wrote that is good, or for that matter biblical. However, some of his beliefs were not periphial issues, they are essential.
      We need to be like the Berians (Acts 17:10-11).
      It doesn’t matter if it is Lewis, Bell, MacLaren, or anyone who preaches, or teaches a false Gospel, we need warn others about them.
      I know all too well how false teachers can lead others astray, I used to be part of the Word of Faith movement.

    • Chris Ashton

      So Credo House can host “coffee and theology” nights with impunity, but when Lewis enjoys a pint and a pipe it becomes one of his “issues”?

      A number of commenters have mentioned this, saying that we all sin (even some suggestion of moral equivalence with massacring peasants!), but since when is smoking sinful? Or is Credo House one of THOSE types of ministries?

    • Ed Kratz

      Chris, no. I did not mean for it to come across that way. In fact most of the staff at Credo smokes!

      The issues that I spoke of are certainly not issues that I have nor Credo. In fact we thought about having a good beer offered at Credo (not to mention the cigar room!)

    • Chris Ashton

      Credo sounds like my kinda place then! 🙂

    • Saskia

      Haha woops I can see how my comment may have sounded that way. That wasn’t what I meant, rest assured. I don’t smoke, and I hate beer, but I love a good cocktail!

    • Jason Pratt

      Fr. Robert: ““Again, whatever C.S. Lewis was theologically? He was not a systematic thinker, but much more of a mystical and existential person.”

      Fr. Robert: “There is a big difference between being a ‘systematic thinker’, and a ‘Systematic Theologian’. Lewis is certainly the former, but not the latter.”

      Well, I am glad you changed your mind about Lewis not being a systematic thinker anyway. {g}

      As to Lewis revising MaPS for the second edition–that was because he was a systematic thinker: he saw that Anscombe was correct, and in the Socratic Club discussion records, after the debate (which can be found in the God in the Dock collection, btw), he can be seen already incorporating her critiques and adjusting his argument in the direction he would eventually republish.

      (I am a long-time friend of Victor Reppert, and have second editing credit for his book behind William Hasker. {g} In fact, he credits me for having discovered the relevance of that Socratic Club after-word entry for Lewis’ AfR revision, and plans to include it in his revised edition of DangIdea whenever he gets around to ginning it up.)

      Fr. Robert: “Later in this [2nd] edition, Lewis fell back on J.B.S. Haldane’s book: Possible Worlds”

      The quote from Haldane is not a fallback position, but a quick rebuttal to a simplistic atheistic determinism that Lewis provides (as being something his readers of the time would be familiar with) right before spending the vast majority of that same chapter arguing against more sophisticated versions of atheistic naturalism–where in the second edition he incorporates and even builds from Anscombe’s critiques (although without credit to her, unfortunately).

      I know it’s popular to reduce Lewis’ argument there to the Haldane quote (which Victor certainly does not do, btw), but it is almost as inaccurate to do so as to reduce his argument to his preliminary remarks on quantum physics in the same chapter. (I’ve seen people do that, too, despite Lewis explicitly saying he will base no argument on them, considering that he might have misunderstood the scientists and anyway they might just as easily change their minds later.)


    • Jason Pratt

      The final paragraphs of my formal review of Love Wins (my much longer and much more informal review can be found here — both reviews are highly critical against Rob in multiple ways):

      In regard to the cross, anyone who claims Rob rejects or undermines any meaning at all for what Jesus accomplished with His death, is flatly outright wrong. Rob acknowledges multiple meanings from scriptural testimony and insists that all should be accepted and promoted. While it’s understandable that opponents who accept and promote typical varieties of penal substitionary atonement should pick on Rob for effectively denying this, they should at least mention and address the real reason why he does so: to avoid a trinitarian heresy (be that right or wrong). And they shouldn’t pretend he has no notion of the atonement at all.

      Most of all, anyone who claims Rob simply preaches some other God than orthodox trinitarian theism, is flatly, bluntly, wildly, unfairly and outright wrong. Rob’s key chapter, on which his whole book stands or falls, preaches orthodox Christology, neither confounding the Persons of the Father and the Son (and the Spirit, although like many popular preachers Rob doesn’t complexify things for readers by talking much about the Holy Spirit), nor dividing the Substance; and affirming the two natures of Christ, fully human and fully divine, acting historically as the Son Incarnate with one will and in one person. He doesn’t go into technical detail about this, but that’s where he stands, and that is Who he is preaching.

      Rob Bell preaches Christ, the one and only Lord Most High and Son of God; and he preaches Christ crucified: drawing all men to Himself when He is lifted up from the earth, giving His flesh as bread for the life of the world.

      Rob takes Jesus Christ that seriously, and he takes salvation from sin in Jesus Christ that seriously.

      And Rob’s opponents, even if they believe they have to oppose him on some points, ought to take him seriously enough to recognize he takes Jesus Christ that seriously.

      Rob insists (quoting from John 14 even) that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the one and only uniquely begotten Son of God, and that no man comes to the Father but through Him.

      And if someone “reviewing” Rob, on video or in print or on the internet, doesn’t acknowledge all this–

      then that is no real review of Rob Bell at all.


    • Jason,

      Indeed my further statement sought to clarify my earlier one, as Lewis was not a “systematic thinker” within Systematic Theology. But we can even pin Barth in so-called “Systematic Theology”. Note, I like Barth also! 😉 It just depends on how one defines “Systematic”. But one thing is certain to my mind, Rob Bell comes up short on both accounts!

    • Btw, as one Irish born, and obviously Irish, I drink some brew (note some, not to excess), but I don’t smoke. Smoking is simply a very bad affair, and I am talk’in health here! One of my Irish grandfathers smoked Prince Albert in a can, rolled it, pipe, etc., and only lived to 79, the rest of my family, father, great uncles, etc. lived into their late 80’s. Mum did smoke also, but died in her early 80’s. I am a young 62! 😉

    • Jason Pratt

      Fr. Robert,

      Quite agreed on all points. {g}

    • Just a further note on “smoking”, my Father and great uncles did not smoke! And their generation were smokers. They all also fought in WW2 (British).

      Btw, does smoking relate to 1 Cor. 10:31?

    • Alan Coughlin

      The pantheist (the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian Scientist) has no trouble expressing his beliefs in Christian terms. This, and the fact that Rob Bell is deliberately trying not to tip Christians off to his philosophy, make it very confusing and difficult to discern what his real beliefs are. However, if you educate yourself in pantheism you will begin to see what Rob Bell is doing.

      For instance, in the NOOMA video, Breathe (, Mr. Bell expounds on the story about Moses and the burning bush (starting at 2:18). At 2:36 he says, “Now Moses has been walking this ground for 40 years. I mean it isn’t as if the ground all of the sudden become holy. The ground didn’t just change. It’s that Moses becomes aware of it. Which raises the question for us, ‘are we standing on holy ground all the time? Passing burning bushes on the left and on the right?'”

      He has obliterated the meaning of the word “holy,” in a distinctly pantheistic way. Holy means “set apart.” Therefore, by definition, everything can’t be holy. This is one of the many many times he rejects antitheses in favor of a philosophical unity.

      C.S. Lewis fans will appreciate Lewis addressing the way some Christians unknowingly promote pantheism by refering to God as “infinite.” Read this excerpt from Miracles, pp87-88:,%20v2.pdf

      Here’s a piece I wrote on Pantheism:

    • Btw, we should note here the affect that WW1 had on Lewis! I heard Lewis speak on the BBC radio in my youth (50’s). I also have the book: C.S. Lewis In A Time Of War, The World War II Broadcasts That Riveted a Nation and Became the Classic Mere Christianity, by Justin Phillips (Foreward by Walter Hooper). I can relate to this myself as a former RMC or Royal Marine Commando (officer, recon), my last combat (but not my first) in Gulf War 1. *I pray my sons will miss this show!

    • […] Why Do We Love C.S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell? | Parchment and Pen Tweet Cancel […]

    • I wonder if Americans know that the British lost over a million men in WW1? Both my grandfathers fought there.

    • My last, on this already too long thread. If C.S. Lewis did not make heaven? then neither do the rest of us! Thankfully, salvation is not based upon merit or a theological litmus test, but in the grace & mercy of God In Christ!

    • Jason Pratt


      Pantheists in my experience (nor in principle) would not treat Christ as exclusively God, nor (for that matter) God as exclusively God, especially for purposes of salvation from sin, the way Rob Bell does in LW.

      Rob Bell is not very careful as a thinker, and what you described sounds to me more like well-intentioned sloppiness on his part, probably based on the doctrine that all creation was created good (plus God’s omnipresence), than some kind of slipup accidentally revealing his otherwise-well-thought-out-secretly-pantheistic-master-plan.

      I’m a gung-ho trinitarian hyper-doctrinaire, with a suspicious streak, who likes (more than I honestly ought!) to pick at fellow theologians on not being trinitarian enough. I was fully prepared to crush Rob based on his whiffly statements during marketing of the book. Rob does say some asinine things in LW, and even outright cheats against his opponents (which greatly disappointed me, as this was something I wasn’t personally expecting). But his occasional theological incoherencies vs. trinitarian theism are, sadly, quite standard in the field among preachers and even scholars who haven’t altogether thought out what they’re saying on the topic and don’t actually mean to be denying ortho-trin.

      I found his gaffes, in other words, to be quite consonant with inadvertent mistakes commonly made against ortho-trin doctrine by proponents of ortho-trin; and his affirmations to be by the same token those which someone secretly trying to promote a different theology would not intentionally make. Pantheists as such would not want to assert that Christ is God and we aren’t; but Rob basically does so. (Similarly, pantheists are more likely than not to minimize or eliminate the personal distinctions between anyone, but especially between the Father and the Son. Rob affirms the personal distinction of the Father and the Son in LW.)

      On the other hand, as I said I am only familiar with Love Wins, not any of his other material.


    • Charisse

      Dear Beloved in Christ Jesus,

      “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord…”Isaiah 1:18.

      Not long before C.S. Lewis died he penned “Letters to Malcolm:Cheifly on Prayer”: “Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “it is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and none will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy!” Should we not reply, “With submission , sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.” ‘It may hurt, you know” – “Even so, sir.”

      Let’s be honest if someone we loved told us this we should know instantly that they have no understanding of the work of Christ.

      We cannot stand before a Just and Holy God with foul breath and stains on our garment. Which is why Jesus Christ had to die to pay the penalty of our sins, so by faith in Christ for our salvation we are clothed in Christ’s righeousness. By the grace of God we are Justified and God sees ONLY His beloved Son when He looks at us.

      “He made Him, who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2Corinthians 5:21

      Beloved, if shortly before Lewis died he had no understanding of the atonement, sanctification, justification or Christ being the mediator between man and God how is it possible for him to have “trusted” in Christ alone through faith by grace for salvation?

      Lewis also wrote in “Mere Christianity” “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.”

      The Bible says “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by this name this man stands here before you in good health…And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” 1 John 5:9-12

      These are just two examples of unacceptable error. We are in a very dangerous position if we either promote or turn a blind eye to such errors in the presentation of our merciful Redeemer by a mere man.

      Brothers and sisters in Christ, who espouse reformed, biblical theology, one day we will each individually stand before our precious Jesus and have to answer to Him and Him alone. May God in His mercy grant us the ability to see the truth as revealed in His Holy Word. Grace and peace in the name above all names, Christ Jesus

    • Lewis’s book: Letters To Malcolm Chiefly On Prayer, is a certain masterpiece on much more than prayer! It is an approach to God, but certainly a mystic approach, but as Lewis says: “We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.” (page 35, Letters To Malcolm..) So before GOD, I cry what I am really, a sinner! But I will leave it to God to say how He sees Christ in me! I think this is always Lewis’s approach, especially since he was something of an Anglo-Catholic Christian. And yes, heaven holds, and will hold even many of them! (Note, I am myself more of a Reformed Anglican).

      “In the Incarnation, God the Son takes the body and human soul of Jesus, and through that, the whole environment of Nature, all creaturely predicament, into His own being. So that “He came down from Heaven” can almost be transposed into “Heaven drew earth up into it,” and locality, limitation, sleep, sweat, footsore weariness, frustration, pain, doubt and death, are, from before all worlds, known by God from within. The pure light walks the earth; the darkness, received into the heart of Deity, is there swallowed up. Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?” (page, 96 again, Letters To Malcolm, etc.) And as James Denney could say, “In Christ God took the responsibility of evil upon Himself, and somehow subsumed evil under good.”

    • TMAN

      It’s been a long time since I’ve read Lewis. From what I recall, he does seem to desire to affirm a Bible-guided view of Christ. But I haven’t read much of him, so I can’t say be counted in the “love Lewis” category.

      Bell, on the other hand, is a sad excuse for a pastor, let alone a theologian. I lost count of the times I had to groan out loud while reading “Love Wins” because the answers to so many of the questions are RIGHT IN THE BIBLE!
      Not in commentaries;
      Not in articles;
      Not in other books
      – right in the Bible itself!
      If Jesus was hearing him speak, you know He’d treat him like a modern Pharisee: “Have you not read!!?” (Mt 12:3; 12:5; 19:4; 22:31)

      “Love Wins” is thoroughly uninterested in exploring Biblical consistency on the topic. Bell’s intention is to look like a cute little intellectual, plumbing the depths of the great mysteries of life (But we saw all that in his trailer video). If he cared about real answers, he’d make at least a 1/2 hearted attempt to expound on the answers already given in the Bible. Sheesh!
      So … Either he knows nothing (and shouldn’t be in a pulpit), or he’s a fraud (and shouldn’t be in a pulpit).

      Anyone standing on a pulpit claiming to speak for God has an obligation to have SOME FAMILIARITY with what God has ALREADY said! Bell fails miserably on this point, and his speculations, while cute, are absurd in the extreme, and ultimately drive people *away* from God. So definitely put me in the “hate Rob Bell” category.

      If you want the verses that answer the questions he’s raised, here are a few:

    • […] Super smart article explaining what the deal is with all the evangelical pearl-clutching over Rob Bell when we are SUCH fans of C.S. Lewis. […]

    • Jason Pratt


      Rob does a better job than I was expecting answering questions by reference to scriptural testimony later in the book. (It slowly gets better as it goes along.)

      But no, I don’t think that excuses his questioning tactics earlier in the book, which end up amounting to arguments from suspicious innuendo. Very poorly and overconveniently played, with occasional cheats against his opposition, too.

    • Jason Pratt

      Having said that, however else Jesus would treat Rob Bell, it wouldn’t be as a modern Pharisee. Rob isn’t a legalist who insists that we must use thousands of traditions of men to keep the Torah for the sake of convincing God His people are finally righteous enough for God to send the Messiah to save them.

    • Jason Pratt


      Since Lewis wasn’t denying the exclusivity of Christ for salvation from sin, including in reference to 1 John 5, but rather spent a lot of his time and energy affirming it (including in Mere Christianity), it’s kind of pointless to quote that against him.

      Lewis did deny the exclusivity of Christianity for salvation from sin, or as something we should put our faith in for salvation from sin; but then, the Bible never says that Christianity is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (Nor does Lewis ever once teach that other religions save people from sin. Even in the MC portion you cite, he was in fact teaching, as he consistently did, that Christ saves people from sin, and not by their own religious works lest any man should boast. While also, by the way, affirming as he consistently did, that where the various religions differ, Christianity is right and the other religions wrong.)

      As to his comments about purgatory, Lewis was only extending the notion of being washed in the blood of the Lamb–probably while thinking of scriptures such as Mark 9:49-50 (“For all shall be salted with fire…”), 1 Cor 3:15 (“If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved yet so as through fire.”), or Isaiah 4:4 (where after the day of judgment YHWH shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion and rinse the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning–resulting in their becoming righteous instead of remaining rebels.)

      What Lewis is denying there, is what he said he was denying: the idea that God rests satisfied with pretending we are righteous. Even if God (which Lewis does not expect) was willing to let us enter into the kingdom having only a legal righteousness while still remaining filthy underneath, Lewis would for sake of the love of God still choose to be cleaned of His sin by God.

      What Lewis was rejecting was a hypocritical pseudo-righteousness that trusts in legal formality, remaining at heart still unrighteous; as well as rejecting the idea that God does not expect us to willingly cooperate with God’s salvation of us from our sins. Lewis chose to die with Christ that he may rise with Christ. His post-mortem purgatory belief is only an extension of the same process — in effect, Lewis expects to willingly agree and cooperate with God in being resurrected (by the Resurrection and the Life Himself!) to eonian life.

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