C.S. Lewis & Spencer Burke ~ BitterSweetLife

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

C.S. Lewis & Spencer Burke

I wanted to mention a couple of sites worth your attention, and found myself considering the unlikely comparison between C.S. Lewis - champion of historic orthodoxy (Mere Christianity) and Spencer Burke, modern emergent "heretic" (A Heretic's Guide to Heaven).

I'm not sure the two have enough in common to warrant much of a comparison. One interesting non-commonality I'd note is that while Lewis's writing is tremendously lucid and incisive (my favorite word for clear, hard-hitting prose), Burke's writing tends toward ambiguity, the sort of "searching" motif common to quite a few Emergent writers (not to be confused with Emerging writers (i.e. Mark Drsicoll), many of whom are quite comfortable with making unabashed truth claims and embracing orthodox theology).

So anyway.

Here are the links: Into the Wardrobe, an enjoyable C.S. Lewis site pointed out to me by E-mom, and Trinity Plus One? a thorough critique of Spencer Burke's evolving view of the trinity (written by my friend Matt). Those of you following the Emergent/Emerging dialogue might also enjoy the conversation between Spencer Burke, Matt and myself in the comments section of an earlier post.

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spencer said...


I thought you might be refering to Lewis views on Hell and My "opt-out" views of salvation...

Lewis wrote illuminatingly of the wonders of heaven. He ... spoke about hell. In one of his last published stories (disputed by Kathryn Lindskoog as to its authorship) Lewis had Dr. Elwin Ransom assert: "A man can’t be taken to hell, or sent to hell; you can only get there on your own steam." This is in line with Lewis’s Arminian soteriology, as when he remarked: "The doors of hell are locked on the inside." Yet when Lewis depicted hell fictionally in The Great Divorce, only one of the bus riders visiting heaven preferred to stay there; all else preferred their misery.

Ariel said...

"I thought you might be refering to Lewis views on Hell and My "opt-out" views of salvation"

Actually, I had the Trinity in mind. Lewis was clearly trinitarian, although he didn't write much about the role of the Spirit.

As for Lewis's views on Hell: I haven't studied his perspective in depth, but having recently read The Problem of Pain (where Lewis suggests that rebels will continue to willfully be rebels in hell), I've got to say that he downplays the awfulness of hell by saying that "The doors...are locked on the inside."

Biblically, I don't see warrant for thinking that anyone will "prefer" to stay in hell once they arrive. As to the mechanics of the journey: our willfulness leads us there and God sends us. The situation is both/and, not either/or, the dreadful inverse of salvation.

The fact that the human will is involved, as well as the will of God, makes an opt-out view of salvation pretty unconvincing. Choice involves volition, action. Opting in, not opting out, is the issue.

e-Mom said...

Not completely conversant with the emerging vs. emergent conversation yet. Driscoll's definitions helped. More digging to do! Glad the Lewis link "scored" and thanks for the mention.

Ariel said...

Here's a little further clarification on the Emerging/Emergent distinction.

Emergent: Is the title applied to an official network of theologians (represented online by Emergent Village) whose theology is "postmodern," progressive, and often revisionist.

Emerging: Is the label applied much more freely to pastors, thinkers, writers (almost anyone, in fact) who has a vested interest in the intersection of theology and postmodern culture. Within this much broader label are various streams of thought. I'd say that Driscoll represents the "far right" side of the emerging church, with his conservative (orthodox) theology and liberal approach to culture. It's this stream of the emerging church that particularly attracts me...aiming to contextualize the gospel in today's cultures and vernacular.

e-Mom said...

Much appreciated! You've saved me wading through an inch high pile of collected articles on the subject. I must confess, I've linked to Driscoll's blog more than once. He also writes for the Seattle Times (religion section), and I've linked to that too. He has a certain knack...

Matt Christenot said...

Lewis' portrait of hell in The Great Divorce is something that has interested me for awhile. The sequence turns out to be a vision/dream in the end so I don't think it can be taken literally but it is interesting none the less.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife