Pastor John, how did the influence of C. S. Lewis prepare you to discover the theology of Jonathan Edwards?
Here is the connection, at least the best I have been able to figure out, to what God was doing not just between 1964 and ‘68 (the Wheaton years), but ‘68 to ‘71 (the Fuller years). I see Lewis, Clyde Kilby (my lit professor), and all my Wheaton connection as a cluster of influences that put the intellectual and aesthetic kindling in place. And it was a very big pile.
I mean these were dry and unbelievably flammable sticks that were being put in place. They were the sticks of logic and the sticks of aesthetic awareness, the sticks of longing and aching and yearning, and the sticks of awareness of beauty and the desire to see it and know it. All those sticks were being put in place so that when the fire of reformed theology — namely, Dan Fuller, Jonathan Edwards, and the Puritans — fell in the years ‘68 to ‘71. They had sticks ready to burn. That is the way I understand what God was doing.
Lighting the Fire
I didn’t get much of the content of my theology at Wheaton, but I did get the categories of thinking and the categories of feeling and the intensification of a soul engagement with the world. Then when I began to read God’s book, the Bible, having schooled myself on God’s book, the world, everything in the Bible just exploded.
“All the ways that Lewis spoke a came to bear on my reading of Edwards.”
All the ways that Lewis had spoken about seeing things for what they really are, feeling them for what they really are, and speaking them in words that awaken the true value of them, came to bear on my reading of the End for which God Created the World, The Religious Affections, Freedom of the Will all by Edwards. I felt no conflict between what I had become under C. S. Lewis.
Theologically, I think, there are conflicts. At least we are going to explore that. But Doug Wilson doesn’t think there are conflicts between Lewis and reformed theology, and I am real eager to hear how he works that out. What I had met in the problem of pain by C. S. Lewis and what I met in the freedom of the will, didn’t sound the same to me, and I would be happy to be shown how they are coherent. But, yes, I think Lewis was a remarkable preparation, guide, and help in many ways in preparing me for Jonathan Edwards.