How C. S. Lewis viewed politics: Guest post by David Theroux

Sometimes being a Christian in this country is synonymous with having a certain political opinion. Ross Rohde wrote an interesting post on this topic.

David Theroux is Founder and President of the CS Lewis Society in California. He recently sent me a quote from a lecture he gave on how C.S. Lewis’ viewed liberty:

The Oxford/Cambridge scholar and best-selling author C. S. Lewis was unquestionably and profoundly interested in the ideas and institutions that were the basis for free and virtuous individuals and communities, but he was not at all interested in partisanship or campaign politics. He instead focused on first principles, and public-policy matters were of interest only as they pertained to questions of enduring value. As a result of this focus, whereas the work of most modern scholars and other writers quickly becomes dated and obsolete, Lewis’s work has achieved increasing timelessness and relevance.

Lewis addressed not only the evils of totalitarianism as manifested in fascism and communism, but the more subtle forms that face us on a daily basis, including the welfare, therapeutic, nanny, and scientistic states.

With Christianity, each and every person is “a child of God” or a holy object (res sacra homo) who has free will and is individually responsible for the choices he or she makes.

Lewis argued that a natural moral law is known to all, and this natural moral code is inescapable; it is the basis for all moral judgments. Its foundational truths such as “caring for others is a good thing,” “good should be done and evil avoided,” “dying for a righteous cause is a noble thing”—are understood regardless of experience, just as we know that 2 + 2 = 4.

Does this mean as followers of Christ we shouldn’t have a political opinion?

C. S. Lewis

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Eric Hatfield

    I’m a great fan of CS Lewis, and although he said little about politics, he still had political opinions. He definitely had views about “welfare, therapeutic, nanny, and scientistic states”. His ideas on some of these things were quite right wing, and he said himself that he thought a christian approach to politics would be leftist in its social welfare but rightist in its personal behaviour. I don’t know how to put that together, but doubtless he saw it all as consistent.

    I think most NT scholars agree that the statement “Jesus is Lord” was a direct echo of the statement “Caesar is Lord” and stood in opposition to it. So it was a political statement back then, and to some degree still is today. There are many who think that right wing politics in America is more about patriotism than about the Jesus who said to love our enemies and care for the poor and sick. If we agree with that statement, and oppose the many US wars, and support Obamacare, or if we disagree and take the opposite views, we are definitely being political and we can’t avoid it if we are following Jesus.

    So I think the problem isn’t being political, but in being pragmatic and selfish instead of following Jesus.

  • Kenneth Dawson

    I think that Eric has said it very correct with his comment.

  • Bob Murillo

    Eric, I see your points in the secret lives of secret Christian millionaires. I am blessed to know some people who have attained wealth. No secret shortcuts or formulas, good old fashioned live within your means kind of living. And the commonality I have observed among them is be frugal, save, but when you see good ground “Sow baby sow!” This includes sowing into investments and PEOPLE! So it is very possible to be conservative minded while also activley looking for opportunities to sow liberally.

  • Angela

    No, but it does mean we need to also focus on first principles and base our political beliefs on them. And not be swayed by political correctness of the left or the right.

  • Karla

    “So I think the problem isn’t being political, but in being pragmatic and selfish instead of following Jesus.” I also might add to the list being afraid.