David Williams on C. S. Lewis and a Very Human Bible

David Williams on C. S. Lewis and a Very Human Bible April 9, 2012

David Williams, my friend and campus minister for InterVarsity in a state that is the epicenter of ACC basketball, recently ran–without my realizing it–an amazing series on C. S. Lewis on his blog resurrecting raleigh.

David goes deeper than I do here, and I think you’ll like what he has to say. Here are the links to his four posts.

God’s Word in (Very) Human Words, Parts 1 & 2

Genesis and Myth

Myth, Truth, Fact, and Genesis

Here are some choice Lewis quotes to pique your interest:

The human qualities of the raw materials show through.  Naïvety, error, contradiction, even (as in the cursing Psalms) wickedness are not removed.  The total result is not “the Word of God” in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history.  It carries the Word of God; and we (under grace, with attention to tradition and to interpreters wiser than ourselves, and with the use of such intelligence and learning as we may have) receive that word from it not by using it as an encyclopedia or an encyclical but by steeping ourselves in its tone or temper and so learning its overall message.

We may observe that the teaching of Our Lord Himself, in which there is no imperfection, is not given us in that cut-and-dried, fool-proof, systematic fashion we might have expected or desired.  He wrote no books.  We have only reported sayings, most of them uttered in answer to questions, shaped in some degree by their context.  And when we have collected them all we cannot reduce them to a system….He will not be, in the way we want, “pinned down.”

Speaking of Genesis and myth:

Thus something originally merely natural–the kind of myth that is found among most nations–will have been raised by God above itself, qualified by Him and compelled by Him to serve purposes which of itself it would not have served.

Is your interest sufficiently piqued? Here’s another one.

[When reading a myth you] are not looking for an abstract ‘meaning’ at all.  If that was what you were doing the myth would be for you no true myth but a mere allegory.  You were not knowing, but tasting; but what you were tasting turns out to be a universal principle.  The moment we state this principle, we are admittedly back in the world of abstraction.  It is only while receiving the myth as a story that you experience the principle concretely.

Everyone knows that Lewis was not a biblical scholar or trained theologian, but he knew ancient literature and he knew myth, which brings into the discussion what is often lacking in evangelical circles when it comes to the proper understanding of Scripture as an ancient text.

I hope you get a chance to read David’s posts and others he writes.

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  • Don Johnson

    Wow! I am very glad to read this.

    • peteenns

      Did it change your life?

      • Don Johnson

        I really like CSL as he speaks to the child in me, pointing out I can lose the adult pretensions that I have accumulated. Not that he is always right, but he much more often than not gets it right in ways I only hoped for. So it is very encouraging to see how far he saw back when.

  • Sounds more like Barth than Lewis — which is fine, IMHO.

    • peteenns

      David, don’t tell me you think we can actually learn something from Barth 🙂

  • Rick

    I get “push back” when I try to propose that the bible “contains” the word of God. The criticism is that then we ‘pick and choose’ our bible (among other things). My more fundy friends don’t like it and argue hard about this. Lewis has been a hero of mine from since I was a young Christian. Response?

    • peteenns

      Get new friends.

  • loved it.

    Rick, maybe just keep on living. and they will see you don’t fall down a slippery slope in your life. maybe they will be less…. worried about considering your view?