Monday, 21 May 2012

Enid Blyton, C S Lewis, and Mother Teresa

How's that for a guest list to an interesting party?

Firstly, Enid Blyton.  I'm reading the first book in the Famous Five series, Five on a Treasure Island, with Squidge.  I'm reading The Ship of Adventure with Chatterbox.  These books tend to follow a bit of a formula and I was amused that we are almost up to the 'Prisoners!' chapter in both books.  I have a great affection for Blyton, I think it has to do with nostalgia mostly.

Secondly, C S Lewis.  I think C S Lewis was an awesome (see how I am using 'awesome' instead of 'cool'? That is because I am both hip and with-it!) writer.  I really resonate with much of his thoughts on Christianity, not everything, but a good deal.  So there I am perusing the internet and doing some blog hopping - you know where you read one thing and think, "What's that all about?" so you Google it, and then the next thing you know you're five links away from where you started and you haven't actually finished a whole article due to the hopping issue.  Anyway, I digress, I came across a post that has annoyed me so much I'm not even going to link to it - though if you're desperate I'm sure Google will obligingly find it for you - in which the writer claimed that CS Lewis was not in heaven because he wasn't a Christian.  Seemingly for three main reasons, he didn't accept Biblical Inerrancy as the author of the post defined it, he was a universalist (he wasn't) because he didn't subscribe to the post author's particular Calvinistic viewpoint, and because Lewis didn't describe the atonement in a manner acceptable to the author.

Thirdly, Mother Teresa, the article about CS Lewis reminded me of a number of negative things written about Mother Teresa when she died, some going so far as to say that she wasn't going to heaven because she was Roman Catholic.

I get so confused by the opinions of Christendom.  Why do we like to condemn the person and not the doctrine? Who gets to decide who is or isn't a Christian? Disagreeing about Christian doctrine is one thing, but condemning someone whose soul is not in our hands is another!

So here are some questions that have arisen after reading a couple of articles:

  • Do those who profess it truly believe that it is by faith alone that a man is saved?  
  • Do we believe that we have to believe in the doctrine of 'faith alone' to be saved?  That is, are we saved by the doctrine of faith alone?  If so, if I have faith in Jesus but do not accept 'faith alone', am I condemned?
  • Are we saved if we have faith, but also believe we need other things as well?
  • If someone believes that we need to believe other things with faith (like faith + works) does that negate the fact that they have the faith?  Or does God say, "Well, you have faith but you believe you need works also to be saved so your faith is negated?"
  • Do we have to believe that the Bible is inerrant in order to be saved (like this particular chappie did)? Therefore was he saying that the Bible alone saves us? Or is it the Bible and Jesus? Is Jesus, the living Word of God, less powerful to save than the written Word of God?
Please understand, I am not dismissing that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ.  Neither am I dismissing the perfection of God's Word.  I am just wanting to know why people who state that they believe that you only need faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved*: 'That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.' (Romans 10:9); how such people can then claim someone is NOT saved just because they have a number of doctrines that you disagree with. ONLY God can see a person's heart, whether their faith is genuine, whether their love for Christ is real.  Speak out about sin, about what you see as incorrect doctrine, fine - but don't condemn the man to hell because he isn't from your brand of Christianity.

[*NB: This is faith in Christ to save - not a simple belief that He existed or that God exists - the demons know these things (see James Chapter 2) I'm speaking of faith in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins and His glorious resurrection into new life.]

Jesus saves - JESUS!  Doctrine is important, yes, but it is JESUS Who saves.

I love Jesus.

13 comments:

  1. My personal belief about salvation, based upon my understanding of the Bible, is that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ paying the penalty and shedding His precious blood, plus nothing.

    But here is where you might disagree with me....To me, if you're putting your faith in Christ PLUS something else, then your faith isn't really in Christ. You may believe it is partly Christ, but then it's partly in something else and that's not really faith in Christ.

    I think you can be saved while still having wrong doctrine, I think we're ALL wrong about something. But when it comes to salvation, to me, it is pretty cut-and-dried.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make a good point. I believe Jesus plus nothing too. I mean I could go into a whole speech about changed life and fruit...but then that gets complicated and a bit off point.

      I am not from a background that believes in works as part of salvation, so I can't really answer definitively - however, I always supposed that such a belief stemmed from wanting to do the works of Christ and that it was faith in Christ plus the works of Christ that were believed to save...thus salvation is entirely upon Christ through the Holy Spirit still, but with a different way of approaching salvation.

      My main bone of contention that started this thought process was someone claiming that CS Lewis was not in heaven because he didn't accept a number of doctrines - on the one hand say that it is faith that saves, but then condemn a man for not accepting some certain doctrines is ridiculous.

      As you say, you can be saved whilst still having a wrong doctrine - we are ALL wrong about something, that's so true.

      Delete
    2. I am not trying to be contentious, but since salvation is such an IMPORTANT thing I felt the need share my thoughts on this part of what you said:

      I always supposed that such a belief stemmed from wanting to do the works of Christ and that it was faith in Christ plus the works of Christ that were believed to save...thus salvation is entirely upon Christ through the Holy Spirit still, but with a different way of approaching salvation.

      But if there is any faith being put into the works as a part of salvation then it isn't truly trusting Christ for your salvation, you are putting some of the trust in your works (and yourself), which isn't faith in Christ, alone.

      Delete
    3. Don't worry, I really don't mind you disagreeing, you're not being contentious I respect your opinion (I always have). Hugs.

      Delete
    4. I've had a little think, I am not Catholic, nor am I Mother Teresa, but as far as I understand it the belief is that the works are not done by human effort but by drawing on strength in Christ (by the Holy Spirit). Thus it is the works that Christ does through a person's faith by grace that saves.

      Now as a Protestant (with Anglican upbringing, I know you are Baptist and may approach from a different understanding), I understand the good works that James talks about in his epistle (Ch.2) are not necessary for salvation but instead are evidence of salvation.

      So both 'camps' believe that the 'works' are not human effort (so that no-one can boast) but are different in that one camp believes they are necessary for salvation and the other believes they are evidence of salvation.

      Does that make sense?

      I hope that I have understood things correctly.

      Delete
    5. I'm *so glad* I didn't offend. :o) And yes I think you have summarized things, as I understand them, correctly.

      And as an aside....I don't know if Mother Teresa was saved or not, only God can see and know what her faith was in, I sure hope it was in Christ alone, but I'll leave that up to God....

      Hugs my friend. :o)

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. Hugs Mrs B, I know that you would never intend to offend! :) (That rhymes) Lol.

      Delete
  2. I agree...there are definitely things in Lewis' writings that I definitely question. However, that doesn't mean that I decide that puts him in the category of unsaved. For goodness sake, what blind spot might I not have.

    Urgh - men like that give Calvinist theology a really, really bad name....Urgh.

    As to Mother Theresa, who are we to judge her heart (or Lewis's for that matter).

    Ironically, your next letter has a slight reference to Theresa (you will understand when you get it). :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, looking forward to my letter! :)

      That's my opinion too, 'What blind spot might I have?'

      I would certainly question some of Mother Teresa's doctrine, but although I cannot say definitively that she is or isn't saved (because I didn't know her personally) she wrote (or said) much of her love for Jesus and wanting to serve Him (Hubs has a number of books about her - I'm not sure if any are written by her, I've only perused them briefly) and so I do believe that she 'knew' the Lord - I might be wrong of course, none of us truly know until the end.

      I have questioned parts of CS Lewis' doctrine, and not understood other parts, but I find his thoughts on God and Christianity often beautiful.

      John Piper (a Calvinist! ;) ) has written a lovely article about CS Lewis and the influence he had on Piper's life. I might quote from it another time.

      Delete
  3. What Ho Sunshine!
    Here's my view on the chappy who didn't like Lewis and gave Calvanist theology a "really, really bad name". There's an awful lot of freedom given in our faith. When you compare Christianity to Judaism and Islam - we are not bound by ritual and rules. We are called upon to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbour as ourselves and that pretty much is about it. However, this freedom leaves the Bible open to myriad interpretations and because of this Christendom forgets the two most important commandments of Jesus Christ and gets itself into a right bugger's muddle over...doctrine. My personal theory is, some folk hold onto their doctrines and catechisms for dear life because it is easier to live a Christian life that way. Some folk need "rules for life" and believe in them with as much faith as they believe in Jesus Christ. And when they come across those who disagree they are bound to be worried and angsty, not just for the soul of the person they're disagreeing with, but because their world view is challenged. I have every sympathy with these folk. I've really struggled over the past few years - with faith, life, everything!!! I'm kind of envious of those with the rules and the absolute certainty, however deep down I appreciate the freedom the God the Father has given me, to worship in my own way, to be wrong, to be angry and finally to come back to Him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What ho!

      It's true. I have fallen into that very trap myself, the more we set up rules around ourselves and the more dependent we are on them being 'right', the more likely it is that if one rule is proven to be incorrect or dubious the whole house falls down because we then start to doubt all the other rules.

      The only thing that I claim absolute, absolute, absolute, belief in is Jesus. He is my Rock and the one thing I can be absolutely sure in. The rest are things I believe that I understand but I know that in this life we see but a shadow.

      As you mentioned, Jesus said, love God, love your neighbour and everything falls into place.

      Delete
  4. Speaking of reading the first Enid Blyton Book of The Famous Five series, notably, Five On A Treasure Island, there are some religious analogies I discuss in my book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com) that are derived from that novel. Stephen Isabirye

    ReplyDelete