Though I am no theologian I venture to disagree with most of W. Norman Pittenger’s recent criticisms of the writings of C. S. Lewis. Dr. Pittenger concedes that Lewis writes charmingly and provocatively in some of his books, particularly those of a fictional character, but he does not believe that Lewis’ writings have much theological value. My own judgment is that Lewis has done more to clear the theological atmosphere of our time and to create a deep interest in Christian things than many theologians together. Lewis’ avoidance of theological jargon (I use the word in no derogatory sense) is a studied avoidance and should not be taken as ignorance. It seems to me that such an assumption of ignorance is the basis of Dr. Pittenger’s wrong critique of Lewis. But to some of the particulars.
The Sense Of Decency
Dr. Pittenger says that Lewis is crude, even vulgar. As examples, he violates our sense of decency by attempting to explain the Trinity by the figure of a cube which is “six squares while remaining one cube,” and by saying that Christ was either what he claimed to be—the Son of God—or else a madman. I believe that one of Lewis’ greatest contributions to orthodox Christianity is his demonstration that a sanctified imagination is a legitimate tool for any Christian apologist. If Dr. Pittenger thinks a cube may not be used to illustrate the Trinity, what can he say of Jesus’ own invariable use of things close at hand to illustrate holy things—vines, and fig trees, lamps, and bushel baskets, and even vultures? Or what can he say of Paul’s allusions to sounding brass and tinkling cymbals or the resurrection of Christ as the firstfruits? Or of St. Augustine’s historic analogies in De Trinitate, confessedly inadequate but none ...1
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