Input: Drei Arten des Umgangs mit einem Autor, dessen Ansichten man nur teilweise teilt

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Ich lese zur Zeit mit Vergnügen zwei Sekundärwerke zu C. S. Lewis (Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles, C. S. Lewis on the Christian Life) von Joe Rigney (Assistant Professor für Literatur am Bethlehem College, auf Twitter). Rigney hat eine sehr angenehme und überzeugende Art des Umgangs mit C. S. Lewis, nämlich

a) sowohl-als-auch: Lewis hat einen prägenden Einfluss; trotzdem fühlt sich Rigney frei, ihn an Stellen zu korrigieren.
b) so nicht: Einige Scheineinwände von vermeintlich besonders geistlichen Lesern, die Lewis offensichtlich missverstehen, werden entkräftet.
c) aber auch nicht: In einigen Themen überführt Rigney Lewis der eigenen Inkonsistenz, indem er aus dem Werk die Widersprüche zusammenführt. 

Sowohl-als-auch: Prägender Einfluss und Korrektur

My reason for viewing my hours (and days and years) in Narnia as time well spent is that I firmly believe that I am a better husband, better father, better friend, better teacher, better son and brother—in sum, a better man and Christian—because of it. (Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles, Introduction)


(A)s much as I love Lewis, I love the truth more. If I believe he is mistaken or misleading on some issue of great importance, then I feel duty bound to address it. Thankfully, I think Lewis would approve of this instinct. He appreciated vigorous debate and certainly did not see himself as above correction. So even the criticisms I offer here are, in their own way, an act of love and charity toward him. (C. S. Lewis on the Christian Life, Kapitel 3)

So nicht: Entlarvung von Schein-Einwänden

In dieser Einstellung wendet er sich  zwei Einwänden zu (Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles, Introduction / Kapitel 1):

1. Lewis setzt Märchen ein.

Objection 1: Fairy tales give children a false impression of the world. … fairy stories give them a realistic impression of the world. In fact, it is the so-called “realistic” stories that are more likely to deceive them.

Objection 2: They promote escapism in children. … Fairy stories do awaken desires in children, but most often it’s not a desire for the fairy world itself.

Objection 3: They will frighten children. … we are born into a world like that, and hiding it from children actually handicaps them.

Objection 4: Only for children. … adults ought to be able to find more to love in the stories

2. Es geht um Magie.

(T)he power of influencing the world using supernatural forces (i.e., magic) is very real. When used to lead people into idolatry and sin or to oppress and enslave others, it is forbidden. On the other hand, when we acknowledge we ultimately do not control God and his power, and we seek power from the hand of God for the good of people, God’s miraculous signs and wonders through us might be described as a kind of good magic.

Aber auch nicht: Korrektur und Klarstellung

Rigney zögert nicht, Lewis zu korrigieren, etwa beim Thema der Sühne. Er stellt ihm Fragen und versucht sie hypothetisch zu beantworten – eine zielführende Methode (C. S. Lewis on the Christian Life, S. 62ff).

1. “Your attitude toward the theories seems a bit glib. Do you really think that we should just ‘drop’ the picture if it doesn’t help us? If the picture is true, as you say, why not say that we should grow into it? Why not enlarge our minds with the puzzling images rather than retreating from them?”

2. “Your examples of the formula—his death washed out our sins, by dying he disabled death—are as metaphorical as any theory of penal substitution. … So the question is, why do those theories get to occupy such a privileged place? Penal substitution may be dropped but not the washing of sin and disabling of death? Does that not seem rather arbitrary?”

3. “If the Bible is authoritative, are its theories? And if biblical theories and images are authoritative for us, then how can you tell us to leave aside the ones that don’t appeal to us? If Paul teaches penal substitution, am I obligated to believe it? Or more basically, if someone tells me that God has forgiven me because of what Christ has done (as in your formula), can I really tell him that I have a different preference for expressing my belief? May we really dismiss the words of an apostle so lightly?”

Rigney widmet zudem ein ganzes Kapitel der Frage nach Gottes Souveränität und der menschlichen Verantwortung. Er weist nach, dass Lewis letztlich augustinische Positionen vertreten muss (C. S. Lewis on the Christian Life, Kapitel 8).

  • Er knüpft an Argumente von Lewis an und wendet sie auf die Thematik an: “But clearly God does more than observe; he designs and creates. As Lewis says elsewhere, he invents and utters. So, following Lewis, would it not be right to say that God does not “pre-determine”; he simply determines? He does not predestine; he simply destines? He does not foreordain; he simply ordains?” (125)
  • Er differenziert: “Lewis insists quite rightly that the relationship between God’s will and ours is utterly unique. God does not act upon us in the way that other creatures act upon us. His actions and ours do not exclude one another in the way that, say, my lifting a package excludes your lifting the package.” (127)
  • Er prüft den Umkehrschluss: “We work out our salvation because God is at work within. The reverse—God is at work within because we are already working it out—would be a significantly different statement. Lewis himself knows the importance of this order.” (128)
  • Er weist den Einfluss anderer Denker nach: “Influenced as he was by Augustine, Lewis has a strong doctrine of sin as that which causes the soul to curve in on itself. … In fact, his doctrine of sin is so strong that Lewis knows people might call it “total depravity.” Furthermore, changing this self-will is beyond our control.” (130)
  • Er bezieht sich auf Lewis’ eigenes Erleben: “Lewis places this note of sovereign grace in his writings because he experienced it himself. In one of the last interviews of his life, Lewis was asked whether, in conversion, he made a decision for Christ. His response reflects the priority of sovereign grace.” (131)
  • Er weist auf den Grundzug von Lewis’ Denken hin, zwei Seiten nicht gegeneinander auszuspielen: “For Lewis, the danger of apostasy is real. At the same time, he recognizes that the Bible speaks of our salvation as an unchanging reality.” (133)


If there is an agent-patient relation between God and his creatures, God must be the agent, and we the patient. No true reversal of this relationship is possible. God is the Maker; we are the made. He is active; we are passive. He gives; we receive. And yet one of the things that he gives us is real moral agency. We are beings whose choices really matter, both to us and to others. (135)

Lewis lives in the mystery of God’s exhaustive sovereignty and man’s true freedom. He feels the tension, and he refuses to let one side of the tension override the other. (138)

Weiterführend: Ich lese keine Ficiton und auch keinen C. S. Lewis & Was ich von Narnia halte – 10 Beobachtungen