C.S. Lewis
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Summary: What did C.S. Lewis really believe?
 
 

When reading Christian books, we must remember that just because someone is famous doesn’t mean all their ideas are correct.

Even C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)—whose writings such as Mere Christianity and Chronicles of Narnia have inspired millions in the last 80 years—believed some doctrines we should be wary of.

Ross Wilson's statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the wardrobe from his book ...

Lewis was baptized into the Church of Ireland as an infant, but took an interest in the occulti as a young man and did not return to Christianity until his 30s, when he became an active member of the Anglican Church.

Lewis was a writer long before his conversion to Anglicanism. He published several poems under the pen name Clive Hamilton, and then as a Christian went on to publish fiction and non-fiction under his own name. Lewis included spiritual elements, even in his fiction works, and unfortunately some of the spirituality alluded to in his books smacks more of his occult youth than of his Anglican adulthood.

Lewis tells how at age 13 he abandoned his Anglican faith due to the influence of a school mistress who was involved with “Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Spiritualism; the whole Anglo-American Occultist tradition.”...“And that started in me something with which, on and off, I have had plenty of trouble since—the desire for the preternatural, simply as such, the passion for the Occult. Not everyone has this disease; those who have will know what I mean. I once tried to describe it in a novel. It is a spiritual lust; and like the lust of the body it has the fatal power of making everything else in the world seem uninteresting while it lasts.”ii

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from the Narnia series, the young Lucy must read a magic spell to reveal creatures who had been trapped in invisibility. When she does so, not only are the creatures made visible, but Aslan, the lion who can be seen in the Narnia allegory to represent God, also appears. Not only does Aslan seem pleased by Lucy’s involvement in witchcraft, he suggests that he created it to begin with:

‘Oh, Aslan,’ said she, ‘it was kind of you to come.’

‘I have been here all the time,’ said he, ‘but you have just made me visible.’

‘Aslan!’ said Lucy almost a little reproachfully. ‘Don’t make fun of me. As if anything I could do would make you visible!’

‘It did,’ said Aslan. ‘Do you think I wouldn’t obey my own rules?’”iii

Lewis did believe the Bible was the Word of God, but also believed that the more dramatic stories of the Old Testament, such as the accounts of Jonah and Noah, were simply folk legends.iv And although a professed Anglican, according to Ron Fleck’s Brief Biography of C. S. Lewis, Lewis tried to keep an open mind when it came to denominational doctrines:

Although a committed Anglican, Lewis made an effort to not be partial to any denomination. Some believe he held ideas such as purification of venial sins after death in purgatory, and mortal sin, which most people consider to be Roman Catholic teachings. But, Lewis considered himself to be entirely orthodox Anglican to the end of his life.v

When Lewis was working on Mere Christianity, he had Book II vetted by Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian clergymen, to avoid any hint of denominational bias creeping in. In a telling passage in "Allegory of Love" he recognizes the potential flaws in both the Catholic and the Protestant paths:

When Catholicism goes bad it becomes the world-old, world-wide religion of amulets and holy places and priest craft; Protestantism, in its corresponding decay, becomes a vague mist of ethical platitudes.

Lewis was clearly not a Catholic, but he did believe in purgatory and praying for the souls of the dead:

Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age, the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to him?

I believe in Purgatory. Mind you, the Reformers had good reasons for throwing doubt on the 'Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory' as that Romish doctrine had then become.....

Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.'vi

When you die, and if 'prison visiting' is allowed, come down and look me up in Purgatory.vii

In his well-known story The Great Divorce, Lewis tells of some residents of hell who are offered a field trip to heaven on a bus.

The proposition was that they could stay in Heaven (in which case they could call the place where they had come from "purgatory," instead of hell).viii

In a TV interview, the interviewer asked Lewis about his mention of Purgatory in The Great Divorce, and whether he was going to join the Catholic Church. "After all, you do believe in Purgatory," the interviewer said. "But not in the Romish Doctrine!" was Lewis’ response, agreeing that purgatory was indeed acceptable doctrine to him.

It is clear from these excerpts of C.S. Lewis’ life and writings that we need to run everything we read against the test of Scripture. No theologian is perfect, and many, such as C.S. Lewis, have dabbled in dangerous spiritualism that may have impacted their lives as Christians as well. For more on C.S. Lewis and his tendency towards Roman Catholic and occult doctrines, check out these articles:

 

Clive Staples Lewis
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) Reckon on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/reckon/445192825
C.S. Lewis: A Bridge to Rome
An essay delving deeper into the life of author and theologian C.S. Lewis.
C. S. Lewis is a famous “Christian” writer. Yet, his works are required reading for new witches. Is his work, The Chronicles of Narnia, Sunday school material, or as one writer suggests, “clandestine, occult mysticism”? Read to learn more. http://amazingdiscoveries.org/3527
 
CC Sharealike Airwolfhound on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/24874528@N04/10803229644/in/photolist-7XjJkq-qR9fnt-qN4qLT-hsDnN5-hq5KP9-aCPSmW-7A2xM1
The Witchcraft of the Narnia Chronicles
A former occultist, now Christian, gives a solemn warning about the occult messages of famous Anglican C. S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles.

 


 

i. CS Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (London: Harvest Books, 1955).

ii. Ibid.

iii. CS Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Great Britain: C.Nicholls & Co, 1952): 136-137.

iv. Ron Fleck, A Brief Biography of C. S. Lewis.

v. Ibid.

vi. CS Lewis, Letters To Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer: 108-109.

vii. CS Lewis, as quoted in Joseph Pearce, C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church: 148).

viii. Lancelyn Green and Hooper, C.S. Lewis: A Biography Chapter 14.

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