Doctrinal Themes In C. S. Lewis’s “Broadcast Talks:” -- By: Jeffrey D. Arthurs

Journal: Michigan Theological Journal
Volume: MTJ 04:1 (Spring 1993)
Article: Doctrinal Themes In C. S. Lewis’s “Broadcast Talks:”
Author: Jeffrey D. Arthurs


Doctrinal Themes In C. S. Lewis’s “Broadcast Talks:”

Jeffrey D. Arthurs

Keith Willhite1

Mere Christianity or Merely Lewis?

Scholars from varying theological perspectives, but especially evangelicals, have debated the orthodoxy of the theological views of literary critic and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis. one of the earliest expressions of Lewis’s “doctrine” was broadcast on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from 1942–1944. Lewis’s “Broadcast Talks” formed the core of his book Mere Christianity, in which he attempted to describe the essential Christian beliefs. To assess the extent to which Lewis’ “doctrine” advocates evangelical theology, a content analysis of Lewis’s talks was conducted. This essay reports the findings of that analysis and discusses the extent and nature of agreement and disagreement between Lewis and evangelicals. It is argued that the theology delineated in Lewis’s “Broadcast Talks” is essentially evangelical.2

Introduction

In England in the early 1940s a new “radio star” arose from an unexpected quarter. The “star” was an erudite scholar, an oxford don, professor of English literature, and he spoke about religion.3 The “star” was C. S. Lewis — converted atheist, brilliant dialectician, dedicated Christian apologist, and wry commentator on the human condition. From August 1942 through April 1944, he delivered twenty-five “talks” on the BBC which later formed the core of his book Mere Christianity. Time reported that an average audience of 600,000 tuned in to hear the fifteen minute talks as Lewis attempted to describe the essential tenets of Christianity.4

Clearly, Lewis ranks among the most popular Christian apologists, yet Christian theologians of varying perspectives have argued about the orthodoxy of Lewis’s broadcast “doctrine.”5 The arguments persist especially among Evangelical theologians,

primarily because Lewis claimed the same sort of orthodoxy associated with modern Evangelicalism”6

Lewis described his “Broadcast Talks” as his “attempt to put into simple modern language the account of God which, to the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of churches have agreed in giving for a great many centuries I am not trying to pr...

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