The Bible, the Church, and Faith

churchFor C. S. Lewis, the Bible was the “higher authority” (“To Mary Van Deusen” 1307). He warned one reader to “beware of the argument ‘the Church gave the Bible (and therefore the Bible can never give us grounds for criticising the Church).’ It is perfectly possible to accept B on the authority of A and yet regard B as a higher authority than A” (1307). He even referred an inquirer on the doctrines of the Virgin Birth and Christ’s resurrection to “Matthew Chap. I and Luke I and II” and “Luke XXIV,” instead of “collect[ing] the opinions of individual clergymen” (“To Genia” 127). Lewis still didn’t consider the Bible “the basis of our Faith” (“To Janet” 653). For him, that basis was “the agreed affirmation of all Christendom: to wh[ich] we owe the Bible itself” (653). He also thought that Christians needed “the right spirit and . . . the guidance of good teachers” to interpret the Bible correctly (“To Mrs. Johnson” 246), namely that along with our “intelligence and learning” we must pay due “attention to tradition and to interpreters wiser than ourselves” (Reflections 112). This statement appears to necessitate the roles of the church and the Holy Spirit. Finally, Lewis did not believe that the Bible could supply “true answers to all the questions” a Christian might ask of it: “The very kind of truth we are often demanding was, in my opinion, not even envisaged by the Ancients” (“To Clyde” 1046).

Sources Cited
Hooper, Walter, ed. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950-1963. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2007.
Lewis, C. S. Reflections on the Psalms. 1958. San Diego: Harvest/Harcourt, 1986.
—. “To Clyde S. Kilby.” 7 May 1959. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950-1963. Ed. Walter Hooper. 1044-46.
—. “To Genia Goelz.” 13 June 1951. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950-1963. Ed. Walter Hooper. 126-27.
—. “To Janet Wise.” 5 Oct. 1955. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950-1963. Ed. Walter Hooper. 652-53.
—. “To Mary Van Deusen.” 28 Dec. 1961. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950-1963. Ed. Walter Hooper. 1307-08.
—. “To Mrs. Johnson.” 8 Nov. 1952. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950-1963. Ed. Walter Hooper. 245-48.