Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ken Boa Teaches Through Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (36 MP3 Series)

Teacher, author, and apologist Ken Boa presents this series of lectures in which he teaches through the content of C.S. Lewis's classic Mere Christianity. Boa is an interesting and thorough teacher, and this series covers a lot of great material.

Check out the 36 MP3 Series on Mere Christianity here.


See also the C.S. Lewis course by RTS on iTunesU here.


Peter Grice said...

Sweet. Thanks very much for this.

Unknown said...

Link to the series dosent seem to work, Can you check this out.

Ex N1hilo said...

There's a lot of good stuff in Mere Christianity. Lewis was an exceptional writer with an ability to get right to the heart of the matter and make difficult concepts understandable.

However, some of the material is problematic, in my view: his embrace of socialism and darwinism, for instance.

But by far the most troubling aspect is the concept of "mere Christianity" itself. This minimalistic definition of Christianity emphasizes certain essentials of the faith, such as the trinity and deity of Christ—a good thing—yet casts its net so widely with reference to the doctrine of the atonement, that it pulls in folks who deny the gospel outright, calling the atonement "cosmic child abuse" and those who deny it by teaching that you have to add your meritorious works and those of the saints to Christ's to get to heaven, bringing them into the same faith with those who are trusting in Christ's sacrifice alone to justify them before God.

Let the Christian be wary and discerning. Test everything by scripture. There is undoubtedly much that is profitable to learn from Lewis. Just beware of the pitfalls.

I look forward to giving a listen to some of these files. There's just not enough hours in the day!

pds said...

Hi N1hilo,

Could you give us some specifics from Lewis? I've not read any of his books but I have them for reference. Which particular chapters/pages etc.. are problematic?



Ex N1hilo said...


To clarify my earlier comments about the references to socialism and darwinism in Mere Christianity, perhaps the term "embrace" is too strong. Lewis seems to assume the veracity of the theory of evolution and the superiority of socialism, but these are points he only touches on and are tangential to his main points. So, I'll admit there is not enough information in this book to discern his position on these issues definitively. However, what he does says is troubling to me.

From the 2001 edition of Mere Christianity, published by HarperCollins, page 219:

Thousands of centuries ago, very heavily aemoured creatures were evolved. If anyone had at that time been watching the course of Evolution he would probably have expected that it was going to go on to heavier and heavier armour. But he would have been wrong.

From page 84 (giving a description of what a "Christian society" would look like):

We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, 'advanced', but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old-fashioned—perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic.

But for me, the most problematic thing and the low point of the book is illustrated by the following excerpt from page 54 concerning the death of Christ:

Now before I became a Christian I was under the impression that the first thing Christians had to believe was one particular theory as to what the point of this dying was. According to that theory God wanted to punish men for having deserted and joined the Great Rebel, but Christ volunteered to be punished instead, and so God let us off. Now I admit that even this theory does not seem to me quite so immoral and so silly as it used to; but that is not the point I want to make. What I came to see later on was that this theory nor any other is Christianity.

While Lewis does say that the death and resurrection of Christ are central to Christianity, yet without the substitutionary atonement—merely a "theory" according to Lewis—the death and resurrection of Christ, along with the whole religion of Christianity are gutted of their meaning. And our faith becomes a sort of "ChrIslam," retaining much of the terminology, traditions, moral teachings, and other superficial trappings of Christianity, but without the heart of it.

Isaiah and Peter clearly view substitutionary atonement as more than a mere theory:

Isaiah 53:4-6 (ESV) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:10 (ESV) Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

1 Peter 2:24 (ESV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

As I said before, there is a lot to recommend Lewis' book, but there are also serious flaws, and frankly, I would contend that it is overrated.


Mon Harvard said...

I agree with the cautioner on Lewis. As he said, we need to be discerning. I want to add that we need to VERY discerning.

All christian preachers and teachers are human beings and we all tend to have at the very least one or two odd beliefs that doesn't square up with the bible completely, or is not consistent with everything else we believe, or is our opinion only, with no true proof to establish it other than the fact that we prefer it to all other ideas put forth on the particular subject.

It is important to know the bible through and through, and never ever stop reading and learning it, through prayer for our understanding of it and request from God that we know and learn the truth and only the truth always, even if we don't like whatever that truth is.
That was the prayer that saved me from dispensationalism which I was schooled in as a youngster, and I wanted desperately to believe it even though the facts did not back it up and I needed to go with truth rather than what I wanted.
Now many years later, I am relieved and fully grateful that I learned of the errors of dispensationalism and the arminianism it embraces vs. the truth of God having dealt with all peoples in one way since the beginning, and such. Now I can clearly see how the bible deals in covenants rather than dispensations, But as a kid I desperately didn't want to change, yet I always prayed that I only learn the TRUTH, and nothing but the truth, whether I like it or not.

I have many favorite teachers but I am aware of things about all of them that should be taken with a grain of salt. C.S. Lewis, John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, etc. - They all have flaws, but also are some of the best christian minds ever. We need to know the bible first and foremost so that we can safely navigate through the real truths as opposed to the mere opinions of all teachers.
I don't know of any preacher in existence with whom I don't have at least one thing which I disagree with about...Except for one guy, Dick Lucas.
Dick Lucas is the only preacher so far that I have not been able to find anything to disagree with him about.

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