C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Part XVII, Lewis on true faith

This is my final post in my series on C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity ( All 17  posts on Mere Christianity are found here). I have tried to point some salient features in this timeless classic. I believe I have been fortunate in some ways in my evaluation of Lewis. Further, I have tried to give him credit, though in crucial areas he strays from the Reformed tradition and beyond that, as far as a I know, Lewis was not an exegete. Hence, some of my criticism has been generally on an exegetical level. I confess I may have jumped to conclusions unwarranted by the immediate context, nevertheless, I have tried my best to expound on the brilliance of C.S. Lewis both as a writer and a thinker.
In this last post, I would like to conclude on Lewis’ discussion on faith picked up briefly on post XVI. In this final section Lewis comments on the nature of faith. In this instance, Lewis appears to be more consistent with Reformed theology than at any other section. His concern, which must be ours as well, is that generally faith has been seen as an emotional roller-coaster followed by some verbal utterance. Lewis writes:

What matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.1

This is the heart of Ephesians 2:8-9. What happens as faith is given to us (Philippians 1:29) is that we abandon all our feeble efforts to be pleasing before God. As the Scottish theologian Eric Alexander once stated: “The only thing we bring to our salvation is our sin which makes it necessary.”

In his final section, he writes:

Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point: and out of that faith in Him good actions must inevitably come.2

The despair of seeking to please God by our works is the climax of the unregenerate state. Only God can bring about true and genuine faith. This faith in turn, as the Reformers have pointed is not alone. Faith without works is dead, says James. Hence, Lewis concludes the exact same way Paul does in his discourse on Ephesians 2. Though salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, we are created for good works, which follow true faith in Messiah. Lewis notes that they “inevitably come.” It is not a matter of choice or willingness. if true faith abides, then, good works also follow.

 

  1. Mere Christianity, pg.130 [ back]
  2. pg.131 [ back]
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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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