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Old Feb 29, '12, 12:13 pm
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Peter J Peter J is offline
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Post Lewis and Catholicism

Why didn't C.S. Lewis ever become Roman Catholic?

I'm interested in the opinions of both Catholics and Anglicans (and anyone else who cares to chime in).
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Old Feb 29, '12, 12:49 pm
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Arrow Re: Lewis and Catholicism

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Why didn't C.S. Lewis ever become Roman Catholic?
After a little thought, I've decided I should have added a second question: Why didn't C.S. Lewis ever become Eastern Orthodox?
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Old Feb 29, '12, 2:48 pm
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Default Re: Lewis and Catholicism

Lewis was not a Catholic. He was and remained an Anglican (Church of England) for his post-conversion life, describing himself as 'neither particularly 'high', nor particularly 'low' '. He was critical of some specific aspects of the Catholic Church - memorably commenting that if the Virgin Mary is like the best of human mothers, she doesn't want attention directed at herself instead of her Son! On the other hand, in Letters to Malcolm and elsewhere, he defends the idea of Purgatory as a necessary 'cleaning up time' for the soul before entering the company of heaven - although he acknowledged that the doctrine was open to abuse.
'I hope' he writes 'that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am coming round, a voice will say 'Rinse your mouth out with this.' This will be purgatory.'
In the essay Christian Reunion he states that the real disagreement between Catholics and Protestants is not about any particular belief, but about the source and nature of doctrine and authority:
'The real reason I cannot be in communion with you is... that to accept your Church means not to accept a given body of doctrine but to accept in advance any doctrine that your Church hereafter produces'.
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 recognises the potential flaws in both the Catholic and the Protestant paths:
'When Catholism] 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.'
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Old Mar 6, '12, 5:00 am
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Post Re: Lewis and Catholicism

Very good post, SMOM.

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Originally Posted by SMOM View Post
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.
You mean he had it vetted by Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic clergymen.
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Old Yesterday, 5:12 pm
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Default Re: Lewis and Catholicism

I've just finished reading Joseph Pearce's book, CS Lewis and the Catholic Church. Pearce obviously knows a great deal about Lewis, which is fun to read, but I think Pearce and most others who fret about why Lewis returned to the Anglican Church of his original confirmation miss (or refuse to admit) several important facts:
1-Although Lewis was appalled by numerous aspects of his Anglican Church, he was similarly appalled by some aspects of the Catholic Church.
2-Lewis believed that the common bonds of Christians were far more important and beneficial than the controversies.
3-Almost consistently Lewis refused to be drawn into public and written discussion of the controversies, because he wisely understood that the controversies undermine all evangelical efforts.
4-Lewis stated that he felt an obligation of loyalty to the Church of his youth and his nation.
I think there is a good deal of wonderful material in the Pearce book, but his tone is arrogant and condescending, and his attacks on the dilemmas of Anglican Church are contra-ecumenical and unsympathetic. I wonder if Pearce really thinks the Catholic Church is doing much better resolving its policies on sodomy?
But Pearce's discussion of Lewis' Pilgrim's Regress is fascinating, as is also his discussion of Heaven and purgatory in The Great Divorce.
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