C.S. LEWIS AND CATHOLIC CHURCH


#1

After G.K. Chesterton, I admire C.S. Lewis more than any other modern Christian apologist. I’d like anyone’s take on why Lewis never made it into the Catholic Church.


#2

[quote=Carl]After G.K. Chesterton, I admire C.S. Lewis more than any other modern Christian apologist. I’d like anyone’s take on why Lewis never made it into the Catholic Church.
[/quote]

I read somewhere that in his heart he was inclined to become Catholic, but “couldn’t” because he felt it would be a species of “treason” to his British roots.

I would like to see a specific citation on this question.

And I would also like more specific data on the following:
On a Chesterton site, I read that reading GKC’s “The Everlasting Man” was a watershed moment for CSL, the beginning of his embracing Christianity. Citation?


#3

That remark by Lewis is cited in his Surprised by Joy, p. 173 in the edition cited by Joseph Pearce.


#4

A good source on this Carl is a book by Joseph Pierce called C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church. It is published by Ignatius Press.


#5

It has been speculated by Pierce that because of Lewis’ anti-Catholic upbringing in Northern Ireland, he found it hard to overcome his chidhood prejudices.


#6

Thank you, Gene. I’ll check it out.


#7

FYI our local Sam’s Club has two C.S. Lewis hardover books on sale for something like 7.50 a piece. Yours probably does too.

Bill


#8

In Joseph Pearce’s book C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church, Lewis is quoted in a letter to a Catholic as having said: "“That the whole cause of schism lies in sin I do not hold to be certain … we disagree about nothing more than the authority of the Pope: on which disagreement almost all the others depend.”

In other parts of the book, Pearce goes on to point out that since his death Lewis has been pretty much repudiated as too conservative by most of the current Anglican establishment, so that he may now be viewed as a great apologist without a Church.


#9

Pearce also quotes Walter Hooper, Lewis’ friend, a past Anglican clergyman and later convert to Catholicism:

“One of the last papers that he [Lewis] wrote was to Anglican seminarians in Cambridge… he points out that, if they continue to talk that sort of liberalism that they were then talking – and increasingly more now – he said their readers and hearers would leave the Anglican Church and become either atheists or Roman Catholics. I think he would probably have had to include himself in that group.”


#10

C.S. Lewis wrote this to an Episcopalian in 1945:

The Roman Church where it differs from this universal tradition and specially from apostolic Christianity I reject. Thus their theology about the Blessed Virgin Mary I reject because it seems utterly foreign to the New Testament; where indeed the words “Blessed is the womb that bore thee” receive a rejoinder pointing in exactly the opposite direction. Their papalism seems equally foreign to the attitude of St. Paul toward St. Peter in the epistles. The doctrine of Transubstantiation insists on defining in a way which the New Testament seems to me not to countenance. In a word, the whole set-up of modern Romanism seems to me to be as much a provincial or local variation from the central, ancient tradition as any particular Protestant sect is. I must therefore reject their claim: though this, of course, does not mean rejecting particular things they say.

“The Boldness of a Stranger”

The recipient, H. Lyman Stebbins, later said, “[t]hat letter of Lewis practically put me into the [Catholic] Church. . .”


#11

I read “The Boldness of a Stranger” article you linked below with great interest. Do you know if Mr. Stebbins included the second letter from C.S. Lewis, the one that “almost put me in the Catholic Church” in his book? If not, I would be very much interested in reading the text of that letter.

Thank you in advance…

Demerzel…

[quote=Vincent]C.S. Lewis wrote this to an Episcopalian in 1945:

“The Boldness of a Stranger”

The recipient, H. Lyman Stebbins, later said, “[t]hat letter of Lewis practically put me into the [Catholic] Church. . .”
[/quote]


#12

“Their papalism seems equally foreign to the attitude of St. Paul toward St. Peter in the epistles.”

Exactly what attitude was Lewis talking about? My recollection of ACTS is that Luke gives Peter the pre-eminent place at the Council of Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas state their case and Peter renders the final judgment on whether the Gentiles should have to be circumcised. I don’t see Paul having an “attitude” toward Peter.

Did I miss something in the Epistles?


#13

Here’s why:

“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.”

(From his essay “Christian Reunion,” quoted on the website www.aslan.demon.co.uk/cslfaq.htm)


#14

"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.”

Seems that Lewis had his own rival papacy going there.


#15

[quote=Michelina]I read somewhere that in his heart he was inclined to become Catholic, but “couldn’t” because he felt it would be a species of “treason” to his British roots.
[/quote]

Maybe Mr. Lewis could have asked his mentor and the man who converted him from patent atheism to Christianity, JRR Tolkien, about how much he cared about being Catholic was considered treasonous.


#16

There are many reasons why I prefer Chesterton to Lewis. Foremost among them were the depth and conviction of the man. False loyalty did not interest him. He went from atheism to the Church of England to the Church of Rome. Somewhere along the road he resisted Rome, but his conversion was complete. His own words say it all:

“If a man is truly and vitally converted, he has the peace of surrender without the shame of treason.”


#17

[quote=Carl]“Their papalism seems equally foreign to the attitude of St. Paul toward St. Peter in the epistles.”

Exactly what attitude was Lewis talking about? My recollection of ACTS is that Luke gives Peter the pre-eminent place at the Council of Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas state their case and Peter renders the final judgment on whether the Gentiles should have to be circumcised. I don’t see Paul having an “attitude” toward Peter.

Did I miss something in the Epistles?
[/quote]

Read the second chapter of Galatians where Paul describes how he had to take Peter to task for being a Hypocrite. Paul accuses Peter of acting one way with the Gentiles and another around the Jews. Paul also states in Galatians that God has no favorites…


#18

In a word, the whole set-up of modern Romanism seems to me to be as much a provincial or local variation from the central, ancient tradition as any particular Protestant sect is.

This, in a nutshell, is the same via media argument that John Henry Newman tried to make in the years leading up to his conversion to Catholicism. He wanted to believe that the Church of England was a ‘middle way’ between what Lewis in the above quote described as ‘Romanism’ and ‘any particular Protestant sect.’

Of course, he eventually discovered the invalidity of such an argument and eventually came into full communion with the Church. Sadly, Lewis did not.


#19

Demerzel

Paul also states in Galatians that God has no favorites…

I hope you’re not offering this as an argument against the primacy of Peter. It was only the apostle Peter whom Christ addressed as the rock (petros in Latin) upon which he would build his Church. If Christ had no favorites, this would refer specifically to his love for all of us. Yet all of us would not have the same role to play, nor the same gifts to give, as Paul himself testified.

Yes, Paul could be grumpy. Is there a difference between being grumpy and having an “attitude”? As was pointed out in an earlier post, it was Peter, not Paul, who had the last word on circumcision at the Council of Jerusalem. In his role as administrator of the universal church, he had to be fair-minded with both parties. Not only fair minded, but friendly. This irked Paul because his own dog was in the fight. He relaxed, of course, when Peter came down on his side. And he shared Peter’s ministry at Rome. If he really had an attitude, Paul would not have gone to Rome to work with Peter.


#20

There’s a great book out on C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church. And apporpriately it’s titled C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church. It’s by the excellent biographer Joseph Pearce, who also wrote an excellent Chesterton bio. He quotes Surprised by Joy “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist…” As Catholic in theology as Lewis was… 1. He believed in Purgatory, 2. He believed in regeneration in baptism etc. His Ulster Protestant roots regarding Catholics stayed with him his entire life. I highly reccomend the book. In fact, I may read it again this weekend. It’s a great read.


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