CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Jan 10 06:24:20 EST 2005


This is an incredibly late contribution to the thread: I lost a small
packet of posts in the wrong box, and it has only just surfaced almost
ready to send, having pretended for a while to be "quiz stuff".

Margaret Ball wrote:

>> (Not that I'm arguing that it's extraordinarily open-hearted to
>> believe that non-Christians can be saved--I'm a non-Christian
>> myself--but it's one reason why I find Lewis so fascinating.)
>
>Much more openhearted than Methodist Sunday School in the late
>fifties/early sixties, where I had my final breach with the Church
>through a Sunday School teacher who was adamant that Socrates and Plato
>were going to hell for the crime of having died before "Jesus came to
>save us."

But that ignores something the Christ is recorded as having remarked: that
he wouldn't come again to judge everything until everyone living (at the
time he was speaking, presumably) had either accepted or rejected him.
Given that a very large number of people all over the world died as he said
it, without ever having had a chance to hear of him let alone make any sort
of decision about him, that implies, to me, either reincarnation or some
sort of holding area (Limbo?) where all souls would get the chance to know
about the Christ and decide about him -- and if that's possible at all, why
not Socrates and Plato too, and all the other people who'd died before
hearing of him?

(Virtuous pagans are a pretty long-standing idea, anyhow; otherwise all the
good Jews who died before Christ happened are damned, the likes of Moses
and Elijah, which is absurd given that we're specifically told that they
were taken to Heaven by the God of whom the Christ was a part.  Not to
mention good everything else than Jews from all over the world: what about
buddhists, come to that?  What happens to the Australian Aboriginal peoples
in this Christians-only model?  They'd rather not be in the Christian
heaven anyway, would be my guess.)

>Of course I had been reading Religio Medici at the time (led
>thereto by Dorothy Sayers), so it wasn't entirely my idea to bring up
>Socrates - but I was really shocked at the response.

That response is itself probably covered by "judge not that ye be not
judged".  Since that's meant to have been the Christ's teaching in the
Sermon on the Mount, it ought to be a fairly important point. :-)  How
could the Sunday School teacher possibly have the right to speak for God on
such a matter, and judge so harshly in his name?

>> it's something about the way each one feels about Aslan that decides
>> their fate,
>
>or whatever image of the Good they have in their hearts, which may or
>may not have any obvious resemblance to Aslan? It might even look like Tash?

It seems that it did, for the Calormene soldier at least.  He did try to
worship Tash in the stable at the end of the Last Battle, I think.

>In one of Lewis's theological essays (sorry, it's been a long time and I
>don't have the book any more to give a precise reference) he envisions
>Hell as being simply that part of the afterlife inhabited by people who
>can't bear being near God - either they can't give up their
>preconceptions, or they can't admit their faults, or whatever.

I remember that vaguely as being Lewis but equally can't give a proper
reference.  Drat.

It ties in with the idea that being without God was the thing Christ was
crying out about on the cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
just before he died.  The feeling of being without God is presumably a part
of the human condition which until that moment he hadn't personally known
(what with being three-in-one and one-in-three and all that).

This would be Hell for Lewis or Christ, but might not be so terrible for
someone who hadn't happened to know God in the first place: would one miss
what one had never known?

>This
>always seemed to me much more believable, not to mention reasonable,
>than the fire-and-brimstone hell I heard so much about growing up in the
>Bible Belt, you know, "God's gonna toss you in the eternal fires for
>everlasting torture if you tick him off in any little way." Who'd want
>to worship a God like that? Cringe before it, maybe. Not worship.

oh, *don't*!  The Calvinist God my poor Scots grandmother was brought up to
believe in was so horrible that she was utterly terrified of dying, and
really didn't want to meet him, and I don't blame her.

I haven't much time for a God who's less forgiving than human beings.
Dashitall, if God is so much *more* than people, why should it be their
worse side that S/He has more of?  Why not their virtues instead of their
mingeinesses?

Minnow


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