CS Lewis and the Son of Odin
February 15, 2012, 12:46 pm
Filed under: Amyraldian, Arminianism, CS Lewis, Limited Atonement, Universal Atonement

written by David Bishop

“Child, if you will, it is mythology. It is but truth, not fact: an image, not the very real. But then it is My mythology.”
– C S Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress

C S Lewis held to the idea that there are two kinds of truth – visible truth, which can only be learned by gleaning it from cold, hard, black and white textbook facts; and invisible truth, or transcendent truth, which can only be learned by reading and hearing myth and legend. Adding to his error, Lewis placed the gospel – the truth of Christ dying on a cross to save His people – into the category of transcendent truth, so that in his view, the things which Christ stated about His death were things that we can only understand by filtering them through mythological stories like the tale of Odin’s death.

“The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens — at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences.”
– C.S. Lewis, God In the Dock

There are a number of problems with this view, not least of which is that it treats Scripture as untrustworthy, and Christ’s own words as less truthful than an idol’s. A second problem is that it also happens to be the same kind of reasoning used by those people who assert that some Arminians are brothers and sisters in Christ. Take for instance, the commonly taught notion today that Christ died for all, but His death is sufficient only for the elect. This teaching is an attempt to make a concession for those people who assert that Christ died for everyone, but that His death is effective only for those who choose to believe it is effective for them. Arminians, in other words.

This notion that Christ died for all, but His death is sufficient only for the elect, disparages Christ’s sacrifice and states something about Christ’s death that is not true. It teaches that Christ’s righteous death is not the sole cause of a person’s salvation. It teaches instead, that there is a cause, secondary to Christ’s death that if mingled with Christ’s death, brings salvation to a person. If this is true however, if Christ’s death needs some sort of catalyst first before it can save, then we should find Christ clearly stating this about His death. We do not find this however. Instead, we find:

John 10:

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

“I came to lay down My life for the sheep,” Christ said. Then to these same Pharisees, He said, “You do not believe because you are not My sheep.” If Christ had come to die for everyone, then He would have said as much. He would have said I came to lay down My life for everyone. Had He died for everyone, but His death is only effective for the sheep, then He would have told the Pharisees that they were not His sheep because they did not believe. He didn’t though. He stated instead the very opposite.

But if I am intent on rejecting God’s word, especially the words Christ spoke concerning the purpose and intent of His death, then what better way to give my argument the sound of authority than by arguing that my so-called transcendent truth is more trustworthy than Christ’s own words stated in cold, hard black and white. In such a case, I would pointing people not to the Son of God crowned in glory, but to the son of Odin crowned with thorns.


2 Comments so far
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Apparently Lewis had a soft spot for his fellow Pagans. Consider another stunning failure:

“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 points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position.” (Mere Christianity p.176, 177).

Comment by DJ

DJ what you said about Lewis is the exact position of modern Roman Catholicism (since Vatican II – Nostra Aetate).

Comment by Raphael Gamaroff

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