(CCSLQ-38) – Christ Himself Bible

This is part of a series exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. Presently a new article is posted the first Saturday of each month (or sometimes the second if there are five Saturdays). There is an “at a glance” page (CLICK HERE) to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series.   



“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him.”

Of all the quotations that I’ve questioned so far, this one is by far the one that most would object about calling into question. If you have followed this series closely, you know that Lewis DID write these words, so why caution against sharing it? As you might have observed in the picture above, the key reason is the context issue. While many will read the above statement and agree with it, there are some who would take issue with it. Clarity is provided when you discover the more complete thought Lewis wrote.

Thus, this quote suffers from leaving out other parts of Lewis’ statement on the issue. Interestingly there are some versions of the quotation that provide more from Lewis, but it skips over several words and so it doesn’t provide enough clarity. Here is the most common variation, which again is incomplete:

“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him. We must not use the Bible as a sort of encyclopedia out of which texts can be taken for use as weapons.”

Before revealing the more complete context, let’s consider where Lewis wrote these words. They come from a letter to Mrs. Johnson on November 8, 1952. They were in response to several questions that she asked of him.  As noted in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Vol. 3 she had inquired “Is the Bible Infallible?” and what you see below is his complete response (words in bold are what is found above).

 “It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him. When it becomes really necessary (i.e. for our spiritual life, not for controversy or curiosity) to know whether a particular passage is rightly translated or is Myth (but of course Myth specially chosen by God from among countless Myths to carry a spiritual truth) or history, we shall no doubt be guided to the right answer. But we must not use the Bible (our fathers too often did) as a sort of Encyclopedia out of which texts (isolated from their context and not read without attention to the whole nature & purport of the books in which they occur) can be taken for use as weapons.

Finally, while the above, unedited version, does bring the issue in sharper focus, I hesitate to encourage the sharing of even this lengthier passage. Why? That’s because these comments were in response to a direct question found in a private letter. I point this out because while this statement can be useful, had Lewis decided to write an article on the topic then material from it would have been better suited for sharing. This is especially true when considering what Lewis means when he spoke of “myth,” which is not in the sense most commonly used today. That is, Lewis did not mean “myth” in the sense that something is false. If you are not familiar with Lewis’ views on the topic then consider consulting this online article, “The Gospel as C. S. Lewis’s ‘True Myth'” by Joshua S. Hill.


The next article to be posted on September 9, 2017 is:

TBA


Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 8/5/2017

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