Friday, July 14, 2006

C.S. Lewis was not an original thinker

These words probably strike the modern ear as somewhat derogatory. However, I use them to praise the great Oxford don. What makes the works of C.S. Lewis such a force within traditional Christianity, read by not only Anglicans, but evangelicals of all stripes, as well as by members of the Roman and Orthodox communions, is that they are not attempts to seek after novelty. True, Lewis did use the methods of fictional story telling, but he used them to set forth the great doctrines of Christianity. Indeed, no orthodox Christian theologian or apologist should seek after novelty; he should seek the mind of antiquity and test his metal there rather than use the tools of the modern age and use them as the measure of truth. Here is where the “mainline theology” of numerous denominations too often uproots itself from the earth of the Scriptures and the ancient Church. Thomas Oden, a prolific writer and theologian of the Methodist tradition has authored a three volume series on systematic theology focused on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. What makes this series such a gift to the Church—and required reading of all students of Christian thought (clergy and lay alike)—is that it is completely lacking in novelty. Oden explicitly seeks after the consensus of two thousand years, not what has emerged in the last 50.

How many books has one seen in the area of popular theology where something is trumpeted as the “new” or the “improved” or some other manner of a “rethinking” of traditional Christianity? I predict that such works will, in time, disappear. C.S. Lewis will remain, because he did not seek originality—he sought Christian orthodoxy and truth. God bless him for not being an original thinker. In the classical Anglican movement, we need more un-originality in our theology.

1 comment:

J. Gordon Anderson said...

Ooohhhh I am dying to beging reading the Oden systematic theology! I have it, but don't have time to dive into it right now, as I am busy reading the NT Wright series on Christian origins. One thing at a time, I guess....