C.S. Lewis: Christianity and Literature (outline)

Christianity and Literature:  Outline

 

The Big Idea:  What distinguishes Christian Literature?  Answer:  it clearly points to Christ

 

Introduction:

  • Asked to discuss “Christian Literature” though unsure of value of this discussion
  • Understands that Literature is a means for sharing the Gospel
  • Rules for good writing are same for Christian and non-Christian
  • Thus, does not see a value in a genre of “Christian” literature, just good literature or bad literature, both kinds reflecting the author’s perspective
    • Is one a “Christian writer” or a “writer that happens to be Christian?”

 

One:  What makes literature “Christian?

  • Sacred in theme/starting point for devotion
    • Value is subjective (rag may be sacred for some)
    • Written by Christians for Christians, not for literary merit per say
  • Christian approach to literature
    • Creative vs. derivative
    • Spontaneity vs. Convention
    • Freedom vs. Rules
    • Great authors are innovators, “breaking fetters,” not followers
  • Jesus as Poet or Philosopher
    • Jesus’ limitations
    • Poetic in some senses
    • More like Socrates than Shakespeare in analogy
  • Man as head of woman, God the Father as head of the Son, Jesus as head of Church
    • The subordinate is to reflect the head
    • Just as son watches Father, so Jesus observed the Father to better communicate his being
  • New Testament Literary Expression
    • Originality is the prerogative of God
    • Creativity discouraged and being conformed into the image of Christ
      • “being as little as possible ourselves, in acquiring a fragrance that is not our own but borrowed, in becoming clean mirrors filled with the image of a face that is not ours
    • Lewis’ rejection of Total depravity
    • Derivative & reflective is good
      • “pride does not only go before a fall—a fall of the creature’s attention from what is better, God, to what is worse, itself.
  • Applied to Literature
    • Purpose is not to create, but to reflect Christ
    • Embody or reveal what is true of eternal beauty and wisdom
    • Originality is not true originality as it comes from God
    • Non-Christian writes for vain purposes, Christian for Christ
    • Christian does not ask, “Is it mine?” but will ask “Is it good?”
  • Conclusion
    • “The Christian knows from the outset that the salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world”
    • The strength of Christian literature comes not from the literature but from the God of Christian literature

 

Words to Define:

  • Hagiological:  of the Saints
  • Proprement dite:  French for “properly itself”
  • Argumenta ad hominess: argument by opinions
  • A fortiori:  “From the Stronger”
  • Catena:  chain
  • Redolere Christum:  “to smell of Christ”
  • mi/mhsiß is derived from mimhth/ß, meaning:  imitator
  • au moins je suis autre: French—“At least I am different”
  • di se medesmo rise:  Italian for, “I lauged at myself”

2 Comments

    1. preacherwin

      Sorry for the delay on this. With Christmas coming, life has been pretty crazy around the church. In terms of your question, several years ago I taught an elective class on the writing and theology of CS Lewis to a group of high school students. As we were reading and discussing, I created the outlines to help the students follow the argument that Lewis was making. As I mentioned to one of the ones who commented, these were not meant to be Cliff-notes or a replacement for reading the book, but instead a kind of roadmap to keep students from getting lost on a tangent.

      In that context, there is no audio with that. Several years later, after having taught a course on Lewis in a mission seminary, my congregation asked me to do a six-week seminar on the life and thought of Lewis geared toward laymen and held on Wednesday nights. I don’t really cover this particular essay in the discussions, though some of the concepts brought out in this essay are covered. Essentially the six weeks cover the life of Lewis, major themes in his writings, an overview of major apologetic works, and an overview of his fiction. I entitled the seminar: “Into the Wardrobe” and there are audio recordings of that if it would be useful. Let me know.

      Blessings,

      win

      Like

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