Can you believe this and be a Christian?

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Yes, it is CS Lewis.

"all Holy Scripture is in some sense - though not all parts of it in the same sense - the word of God."
Reflections on the Psalms, 19.

"If every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights, then all true and edifying writings, whether in Scripture or not, must in some sense be inspired."
Letters of C. S. Lewis, W. H. Lewis, editor, 1993,479-480.

"[H]ere are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. 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. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ's birth may have been in this position."
Mere Christianity, 176-177.

"I think that every prayer which is sincerely made even to a false god or to a very imperfectly conceived true God, is accepted by the true God and that Christ saves many who do not think they know Him."
Letters of C. S. Lewis, 428.

God sends "good dreams" to all people in the form of mythology....


Puritan Board Freshman
I have no idea who this individual is, but I would have to say I think it is impossible for a true converted Christian to persist in beliefs of this kind.

I know some say that the deciding point is whether the individual himself trusts in Christ completely for his own salvation, and thus he would not be damned for having mistaken ideas about other people being saved in other ways.

But I do not believe it is possible for someone to truly trust in Christ alone for his salvation while believing that others could be saved without Him. To believe that it is possible for human souls to be saved without faith in Christ (through putting trust in religious myths or whatever) is to have a gravely inadequate understanding of both how lost and wicked the human race is and how exceedingly precious God's grace in Christ Jesus is. At its root I believe such a belief denies the total depravity and undeservedness of the human race (making it impossible to have a true understanding of grace), as well as the truth that human souls are saved not merely for humanistic reasons but that the Son may be glorified in them.

Is it possible for someone to deny the fundamentals of the Gospel as they apply to the world at large and yet believe them to such a firm extent for himself that he could truly trust in Christ alone for his salvation? I do not see how.

This is a very grave heresy indeed. I suppose it is possible for even truly converted people to be influenced by false philosophies for a time, but if he is a true Christian he will certainly repent of such wicked doctrines and will not persist in them.

[Edited on 2-27-2004 by Jie-Huli]


Puritan Board Freshman
[quote:2c12328aab][i:2c12328aab]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:2c12328aab]
Yes, it is CS Lewis.


--Gathering wood for the roast-----

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
While it is indeed true that Lewis (and Graham, actually) believes this horrific doctrine, the person I was thinking of who does is J. I. Packer. He said, "We can safely say (i) if any good pagan reached the point of throwing himself on His Maker's mercy for pardon, it was grace that brought him there; (ii) God will surely save anyone he brings thus far; (iii) anyone thus saved would learn in the next world that he was saved through Christ." This is from page 210 of his book, [i:bc2ba20c4a]God's Words[/i:bc2ba20c4a], published in 1998. You can read the quotation at either or at publications/html/postmodernism4.html. Surprising indeed.


[Edited on 2-27-2004 by Me Died Blue]


Puritanboard Brimstone
Should we make a distinction between those who say this is possible in theory and those who say this is what actually happens?


[quote:2611fdd1a2][i:2611fdd1a2]Originally posted by KayJay[/i:2611fdd1a2]
I thought that was something different though than this discussion...the idea of "redemptive correlatives" remind me of how Paul uses language of the "mystery religions" in 1 Corinthians. Of course the mystery religions had no power to save - there were just ideas/language he could use. (HOWEVER - I DON'T think that means Paul was SEEKER-SENSITIVE :rolleyes: )

If I believe in "redemptive correlatives" it doesn't necessarily mean that I believe people can be saved by the "pictures" of Christ's atonement. That's like saying someone could be saved by reading/watching "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" without ever hearing the Gospel.

Do you agree that there is a distinction between a) believing there are redemptive correlatives that perhaps God uses when His elect bring His Gospel to a people - and b) believing that a people who trust in the abstract correlative are saved?

hope that made sense... [/quote:2611fdd1a2]

The mystery religions were based on myth...that is the theology of some people and very ignorant it is! No, I don't think redemptive correlatives are salvific - one must learn the truth and believe it, but they may provide a springboard for talking about and explaining the truth. Liked the post about the scapegoat - that's exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about, some of them are better than others, notice that Paul used the terminology of the mystery religions but not the actual content! Poor C.S.Lewis, I think he was a Christian, but he was certainly mixed up. Billy Graham ought to know better, there is [b:2611fdd1a2]some[/b:2611fdd1a2] truth in Packer's remarks, but it would have been better to say that God would reveal His Gospel to such a person in this life, giving him/her opportunity to become a believer, there have been missionary stories of just such things, people waiting for them to come and explain,etc.

Sorry for the long post.


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I don't know Lewis very well. I have read some of his writings, and admired his abilities. I think that we need to be careful here. Lewis was careful not to get mixed up in his particular place in the church, for he submitted his writings, such a [u:fcaae93142]Mere Christianity[/u:fcaae93142], when still in script form for his radio broadcasts, to his proper ecclesiastical authority. It is usual for him to comment on the nature of the kind of writings he was commonly dealing with in his vocation. It seems to me that it was his conviction that these writings were a clear demoonstration that there is no religious culture which is devoid of revelation, either through its historical memory or observation of the cosmos. There is a cultural remembrance of the true God in every culture, he held.

There are certain ramifications that follow this notion. A person may be convicted to some degree, though small, of some revelation through these remnants. This ought not to be discounted. We have a way of saying the same thing, that every lie has at least some glimmerings of truth to it. If someone were to be attracted to those glimmerings, to the rejection of those things that it finds repugnant, it can be none other than the work of the Spirit. And as such they must belong to Christ.

But I don't believe that Lewis would say this in the same respect that we would say the same thing. When we talk about someone belonging to Christ, we are mindful of elected status, though we ourselves do not know God's eternal decree on the matter. But I think that Lewis had another use of that term that he used as well, like a hammer being used by a person, whether he owned it or not, was "owned' or "belonged to" that person as he was using it.

All I'm trying to say is that Lewis was not a universalist, and that what he says has to be understood according to how he used language to convey ideas in his own way. I may not agree with some excesses that he went to, but I do agree that every culture, and every religious writing amounts to a writ against those who hold to them, because one will find sufficient grounds to ask them why they did not follow good conscience and the witness of truth that they claimed to hold to. They need to know that they too "belong" to Christ, in that they too owe Him reverence and worship, and that their religion is no excuse, but rather an indictment. Lewis would not have gone into these matters, for it was outside his field of study. His field of study was the writings, the myths, the ideas, and use of languages to convey them. He was rather strict about that.
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