Possibly one of the lesser known essays of CS Lewis, “Christian Reunion” was found scribbled on the back of some broadcast sheets from 1944. Apparently it was in reply to the invitation of some Catholic friends. It’s not a long essay, but there were four paragraphs I thought repeating here.
Note that CS Lewis died in 1963, right in the middle of Vatican II. This essay was only published for the first time in “Christian Reunion” in 1990.
(from the foreword in “CS Lewis Essay Collection”).
It was subtitled “An Anglican speaks to Roman Catholics”.
"And on the purely theological level I think I may say that the barrier is no longer that between a doctrine of Faith and a doctrine of Works. I am not myself convinced that any good Roman ever did hold the doctrine of Works in that form of which Protestants accused him, or than any good Protestant ever did hold the doctrine of Faith in that form of which the Catholics accused him. At any rate I feel certain that no man of good will today hopes to see God either by Pecca fortiter or by founding an abbey.
The difficultly that remains, and which becomes sharper as it becomes narrower, is our disagreement about the seat and nature of doctrinal Authority. The real reason, I take it, why you cannot be in communion with us is not your disagreement with this or that particular Protestant doctrine, so much as in the absence of any real 'Doctrine", in your sense of the word, at all. It is, you feel, like asking a man to say he agrees not with a speaker but with a debating society. And the real reason I cannot be in communion with you is not my disagreement with this or that Roman doctrine, but to accept your church means, not to accept a given body of doctrine, but to accept in advance any doctrine your Church hereafter produces. It is like being asked to agree not only to what a man has said, but what he’s going to say.
To you the real vice of Protestantism is the formless drift which seems unable to retain the Catholic truths, which loses them one by one and ends in a ‘modernism’ which cannot be classified as Christian by any tolerable stretch of the word. To us the terrible thing about Rome is the recklessness (as we hold) with which she had added to the depositum fidei - the tropical fertility, the proliferation, of credenda. You see in Protestantism the Faith dying out in a desert: we see in Rome the faith smothered in a jungle…
… I have, however, a strong premonition as to the way in which reunion will *not *come. It will not come at the edges. ‘Liberal’ Romans and ‘high’ Anglicans will not be the ones who meet first. For the odd thing is that the nearer you get to the heart of each communion, the less you notice its difference from the other".
Typical CS Lewis - Right to the point, and still accurate decades later.