Fundamentalism and Narnia

[He is] a classic theological Ishmael, a wild man whose hand is against every man.”

That’s Phil Johnson aptly summarizing a certain fundamentalist who posts uneven and often absurd “exposes” of well-known Christians on his web site. To the world, a fundamentalist is usually someone who believes all of the Bible is true, including those parts about salvation through Christ alone. In other words, a Christian. In Reformed circles, though, the term fundamentalist has a different pejorative meaning, one borne of long history. While fundamentalists of this second stripe should be applauded for an insistence on the truth of unpopular doctrines, they tend to breed, in the words of this article, a philistine wearer of “X-ray heresy glasses,” the type of wooden literalist who sees in the Iliad nothing but “an incitement to sodomy and the worship of Zeus.”

C.S. Lewis is another target; witness the comments on this article as a typical example. You see, Hollywood is coming out with a Chronicles of Narnia movie. Strike one! Various ministries are promoting it with Hollywood. Strike Two! Narnia has a witch in it. Strike three, Lewis is unsound! (Pointy hat alert.) Sure, Lewis died in 1963, but his book is being made into a movie. That just shows what kind of book it is. It’s a rewrite of the Gospels, or something, but we have the real thing. We don’t need magic and a talking lion. Plus Lewis was a Catholic. Oh, he was an Anglican? Well, same thing.

Why bother looking at context or understanding the writer’s philosophy? Why bother investigating why so many Christians (Piper, Sproul, Packer, the White Horse Inn guys, etc) have admired Lewis’s writings? It’s solo Scriptura all the way for these fundamentalists. One wonders if Pilgrim’s Progress is outside the pale too.

This is not to defend the Narnia film; I know little about it. And churches should not be obtaining sermons from a movie company, as some are apparently doing. But why must this be used as ammo to slander Lewis? He’s been dead for 40+ years. He was not right all the time, and there have been reasoned critiques against an occasional writing, but on the whole he was quite sound, and often profoundly so. Who has not heard and benefitted from the Lord Liar Lunatic trilogy? Lewis was very active at Oxford defending the Christian faith against anti-supernaturalists, speaking the truth of Christianity in a hostile time. He was not a universalist or a liberal. In fact, he vigorously defended orthodoxy against such faddish heresies, at some cost in his professional life. By all accounts he was a devout believer, an excellent witness to friends, family, and the public. He remains a treasured writer for good reason.

Don’t violate your conscience. If you don’t want to see the movie or read Lewis’s books, then don’t do so. But consider understanding the subject matter a bit better before attempting to bind others.

This entry was posted in Culture, History, Ills. Bookmark the permalink.