Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lewis responds to a liberal critic (part 5)

C.S. Lewis’ “Rejoinder to Pittenger” was published in a November 1958 issue of Christian Century in response to the October article, “A Critique of C.S. Lewis” by Dr. Norman Pittenger.

Norman Pittenger sketchThe statement that I do not ‘care much for’ the Sermon on the Mount but ‘prefer’ the ‘Pauline ethic’ of man’s sinfulness and helplessness carries a suggestion of alternatives between which we may choose, where I see successive stages through which we must proceed. Most of my books arc evangelistic, addressed to tous exo. It would have been inept to preach forgiveness and a Saviour to those who did not know they were in need of either. Hence St Paul’s and the Baptist’s diagnosis (would you call it exactly an ethic?) had to be pressed. Nor am I aware that our Lord revised it (‘if ye, being evil…‘). As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means ‘liking’ or enjoying, I suppose no one ‘cares for’ it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge-hammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion’.

C.S. Lewis, “Rejoinder to Dr Pittinger,” God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 181-182.

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