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A fair-tale for grown-ups: Christian orthodoxy in the theology of C.S. Lewis

Seward, Nicholas (1998) A fair-tale for grown-ups: Christian orthodoxy in the theology of C.S. Lewis. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis investigates C.S. Lewis as one of the most successful Christian apologists of this century. It begins by looking at his influence as part of a movement of lay orthodoxy in the twentieth century, and examining some of the reasons for the emergence of that movement. In the context of this discussion, several key influences are explored. Charles Williams and G.. Chesterton are examined as contemporaries who helped shape Lewis' specifically Christian theology, Edwyn Bevan as an influence on his philosophy of God, Baron von Hugel as a beacon of light in the Modernist crisis, and Rudolf Otto as the primary source of Lewis' synthesis of the rational and the non-rational in his theology. The thesis then goes on to explore three areas where Lewis had a distinctive contribution to make to modern orthodox belief The first of these is the assertion that , he was making an attempt to resurrect Romanticism in some form in theology, in contrast to such figures as Kari Barth, for whom Romantic philosophy was part of the entire problem of the Liberal enterprise. The second area is the regaining of a Christian imagination concerning the life to come and of the doctrines of Heaven and Hell. It will be argued that Lewis' doctrine of Transposition offers suggestions as to an alternative to self-defeating reductionism in this area of Christian thought. The third area is Lewis’ engagement with the ideas and philosophies of his day, and in particular his hostility towards Scientific Materialism. This will be examined through his use of the literary - genre of Utopia/Dystopia to critique materialist and relativist positions. His work will be explored alongside two examples of the genre - H.G. Wells and Yevgeny Zamyatin - to place him in the context of the discussion of possible human fixtures of his time. The thesis will argue that C.S. Lewis was the foremost exponent of a group of lay Christians who were concerned to restate orthodox Christian belief in the modem context. It will argue that Lewisian orthodoxy was a credible and complex construct which encompassed the rational and the non-rational, the moral and the numinous, the intellect and the imagination. Ultimately it will argue that Lewis offers theological suggestions as to the solution of the lost unity of heart and mind - the "dissociation of sensibility" - which the Romantics sought.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1998
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 15:55

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