Lewis on Atonement

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by whatever, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. whatever

    whatever
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    From page 58 of my copy of Mere Christianity:
    He goes on to say that one's view of how this works is much less important than affirming that it does in fact work. So, what is wrong with this view of Atonement?
     
  2. Brice

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    Bump so people can read and respond.
     
  3. Brice

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    Funny, the thread sending Lewis to hell goes on forever, but this one has not one response. Thank you Whatever for bringing some facts to the table. God bless.
     
  4. pinoybaptist

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    Maybe it's because those sending Lewis to hell suddenly realized that while one finger was pointing to Lewis, three were bent and pointing right back at them ?
     
  5. Psalm145 3

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    whatever, Read that quote in its context in Mere Christianity chapter 4. Here is what the rest of it says:

    "...That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build up as to how Christ's death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: mere plans or diagrams to be left alone if they do not help us, and, even if they do help us, not to be confused with the thing itself. All the same, some of these theories are worth looking at.
    The one most people have heard is the one about our being let off because Christ 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 instead? None at all that I can see, if you are thinking of punishment in the police-court sense."

    D. Martin Lloyd-Jones warned that C.S. Lewis had a defective view of salvation and was an opponent of the substitutionary and penal view of the atonement (Christianity Today, Dec. 20, 1963).
     
  6. mcdirector

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    I believe this was said on the other thread (in which I got lost :D , but did try to read) -- Lewis was a brilliant man, but not a theologian --neither am I. Of course, I have the added disadvantage of a lack of brilliance also. I'm intelligent, but not brilliant.

    I would hate for some of the things that I said as I was coming to an understanding of Scripture -- perhaps being all over the place theologically as I grappled with it -- to come back for someone use as evidence that I was unsaved. Lewis had the disadvantage of being placed in the limelight as if he were a theologian. Thank goodness I don't have that one.
     
  7. mcdirector

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    As I was getting ready for school, I was thinking about my friend who is a different denomination. Her theology is "off" in many aspects and more denominational than biblical at times, but I have never doubted that she has accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.
     
  8. whatever

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    Hi Psalm,

    That's not all it says, either. I hope you kept reading.

    The big point here is that he said "Christ was killed for us". How could he affirm that and deny a substitutionary atonement?
     
  9. Paul of Eugene

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    I myself shy away from the idea of substitution and prefer to discuss what Christ's death did for as as an identification. Christ identifies with us utterly and completely. This causes Him to become identified with my sin and my death. Then he dies, but because He was sinless, He is resurrected. Because the identificaiton continues, I am resurrected with Him.

    Somehow putting it this way speaks more to my heart than to say he made an arrangement with the judge to take our place.

    If somebody takes this post and says I don't believe in the substitutionary atoning death of Christ on the Cross, I have a bone to pick with them.

    Like Lewis, I say the substitution theory is certainly biblical, but so is the identification theory.
     
  10. Mark Osgatharp

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    In his book "Mere Christianity" Lewis did not say the substitution theory is biblical. He said it was "silly."

    And if you think the substitionary death of Christ is Biblical, why do you "shy away" from it? Do you shy away from the teachings of the Bible?

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  11. whatever

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    Mark,

    When Lewis said "on the face of it that is a very silly theory" he was not speaking of substitution itself. He was speaking of a particular theory of how substitution works. He went on to say that he held to a different theory of how substitution works. He also said that holding the correct idea of how it works is not important, but believing that substitution does work is essential.

    To say that he denied substitution is to admit that you really haven't read what he wrote, or that you really don't understand it.
     
  12. Mark Osgatharp

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    Whatever,

    I did read what Lewis said and I did understand it. Since he does not use the term "substitution" your complaint is semantic at best.

    The bottom line is, C.S. Lewis said that the idea that Christ took the punishment for our sins seemed silly to him. Not only did he say it was "silly" he said it was "immoral". The kindest thing he could muster up for it is that it didn't seem so "immoral and so silly" to him as it once had. His exact words are:

    "Now before I became a Christian I was under the impression that the first thing Christians had to believe was one particular theory as to what the point of his dying was. According to that theory God wanted to punish men for having deserted and joined the Great Rebel, but Christ volunteered to be punished instead, and so God let us off. Now I admit that eve this theory does not seem to me quite so immoral and silly as it used to; but that is not the point I want to make."

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  13. rsr

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    I've seen the Lloyd-Jones quote ad nauseum. Does anyone have context? After all, Lewis appeared at LJ's evangelistic events, so at one time they weren't too far apart.
     
  14. whatever

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    Mark,

    He said "Christ was killed for us". How is that not substitution?

    Also, what did Lewis say that he thought the point of Christ's dying was?
     
  15. Deacon

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    Quote in context

    "Now before I became a Christian I was under the impression that the first thing Christians had to believe was one particular theory as to what the point of this dying was. According to that theory God wanted to punish men for having deserted and joined the Great Rebel, but Christ volunteered to be punished instead, and so God let us off. Now I admit that even this theory does not seem to me quite so immoral and so silly as it used to; but that is not the point I want to make. What I came to see later on was that neither this theory nor any other is Christianity. The central Christian belief is that Christ's death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work. I will tell you what I think it is like. All sensible people know that if you are tired and hungry a meal will do you good. But the modern theory of nourishment - all about the vitamins and proteins - is a different thing. People ate their dinners and felt better long before the theory of vitamins was ever heard of: and if the theory of vitamins is some day abandoned they will go on eating their dinners just the same. Theories about Christ's death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works. Christians would not all agree as to how important those theories are. My own church - the Church of England - does not lay down any one of them as the right one. The Church of Rome goes a bit further. But I think they will all agree that the thing itself is infinitely more important than any explanations that theologians have produced. I think they would probably admit that no explanation will ever be quite adequate to the reality. But as I said in the preface to this book, I am only a layman, and at this point we are getting into deep water. I can only tell you, for what it is worth, how I, personally, look at the matter.

    In my view the theories are not themselves the thing you are asked to accept. Many of you no doubt have read Jeans or Eddington. What they do when they want to explain the atom, or something of that sort, is to give you a description out of which you can make a mental picture. But then they warn you that this picture is not what the scientists actually believe. What the scientists believe is a mathematical formula. The pictures are there only to help you to understand the formula. They are not really true in the way the formula is; they do not give you the real thing but only something more or less like it. They are only meant to help, and if they do not help you can drop them. The thing itself cannot be pictured, it can only be expressed mathematically. We are in the same boat here. We believe that the death of Christ is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from outside shows through into our own world. And if we cannot picture even the atoms of which our own world is built, of course we are not going to be able to picture this. Indeed, if we found that we could fully understand it, that very fact would show it was not what it professes to be - the inconceivable, the uncreated, the thing from beyond nature, striking down into nature like lightning. You may ask what good it will be to us if we do not understand it. But that is easily answered. A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.

    We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build up as to how Christ's death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: mere plans or diagrams to be left alone if they do not help us, and, even if they do help us, not to be confused with the thing itself. All the same, some of these theories are worth looking at."
    end quote
     
  16. Humblesmith

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    With this quote in context, I would say that those who make Lewis out to be saying that he denied substitutionary atonement are ripping it out of context. This passage does nothing of the sort. And as for the other quotes about what Lewis believed, secondary quotes about what Lewis believed should not be used. Primary source quotes, please.

    But I think we have to understand the context in which Mere Christianity was written. His audience was England in the mid-1900's. There was no evangelical presence there of any size. Lewis was speaking to quite liberal upper-crust folk who were, at best, going to church because "our family is Catholic" or "our family has always been Anglican." He was speaking to people who had a culture of church-ianity, and was pointing to the reality of Christ himself as the main point of the whole thing. This is the context of this quote. And in that regard, he is quite correct. LOOK AT THE QUOTE......"...that is not the point I want to make."
     
  17. Mark Osgatharp

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    Humblesmith,

    Lewis said that he found the concept of Christ being punished as a payment for our sins to be "immoral" and "silly". No amount of rhetoric by him or his defenders will smooth that over.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  18. Frogman

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    I have never read anything of Lewis'.

    According to Deacon's post on page one, Lewis was a child of God. He understood as much as anyone of us do that secret of God manifest in the flesh.

    There is no doubt in my mind that he dwelt and does now rest under the shadow of His wing.

    his statements about theories is that which you guys have difficulties with, not his testimony.

    You are looking for something to hash, that is all.

    His statements about theories are simply that to try and understand the depths of the riches of His Grace is silly.

    We, as beleivers know the reconciliation is full, complete, etc. All OT saints knew as much;

    Any Egyptian hearing the command of Israel to kill the passover lamb; to apply that blood to his doorposts would have likewise been passed-over by the Angel of Death.

    Nowhere did God say your mailbox must be Jewish.

    Now, did God determine for an Egyptian to be so delivered? We do not know for there is no Biblical record, were I to say He did, that would be a silly theory of my own.

    However, the truth is simply stated that all whose doorposts were covered by the blood of the innocent, tried, pure substitute, would certainly not be visited upon by the Angel of Death.

    Add to or take away and anything else you want and you develop your own silly theory.

    Bro. Dallas Eaton
     
  19. nate

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    Remember folks Lewis was Anglican to those attacking him he was not Independent Baptist.
     
  20. Mark Osgatharp

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    So what does that have to do with the fact that Lewis flatly rejects the fact that Christ suffered the punishment for our sins, calling that idea "silly" and "immoral". Does being Anglican make one less responsible for believing the truth?

    Mark Osgatharp
     

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