April 2009
March 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
Recent Entries
Movie Metaphysics: The Dark Knight
What's Going On Here??
Why I'm Getting Rid of Google Chrome
Twitter and Me
To the 52, From 1 Of the 48
A Note To Authors (and PR people, too)
Beat Coastal, The Sequel
Obama's Backdrop

May 13, 2005

Beyond the Shadowlands Part 4: Conclusion

One of the things that I was hoping to gain from this book is an explanation of Lewis' alleged heterodoxy. I've heard him accused of universalism. I've heard that he believed in Purgatory. From reading Mere Christianity, I can tell he was fairly ecumenical. Martindale defends Lewis from the first two charges in this work.

Against the charge of universalism, Martindale points out that in Lewis' works people DO go to Hell. They deserve to be there; in fact, in The Great Divorce, the choose to go there. If anything, Lewis could be accused of being slightly inclusivistic -- he believes that people are judged based on the grace they have been given, rather than professing faith in a Christ they have never known about. I certainly would disagree with Lewis on that point, as many evangelicals would.

Lewis's stand on Purgatory is interesting. He sees Purgatory as the vehicle by which we are sanctified before we enter Heaven, rather than a "second chance" for non-believers to get their act together to get into Heaven. I agree that believers are made pure by the working of the Holy Spirit; I disagree that it happens after death.

We need to remember that for all his great intellect, and his obvious writing talent, that Lewis was not a theologian. He was an academician, and very intelligent, and an apologist without equal in his day. But he was not theologically trained, and we should not use him to determine our theology. If he was wrong, we can say that he was wrong without having to abandon the ideas that he got right.

Much of Martindale's book is literary criticism: he looks closely at the symbols and imagery that Lewis uses, and shows their meaning in terms of Heaven and Hell. He assumes that the reader has at least a passing familiarity with Lewis' work, which I am increasingly aware that I do not have. The Space Trilogy is referenced many times -- I have put reading that trilogy at the top of my must read list. I've decided that I really need to start reading more C.S. Lewis -- the weekly readings out of Mere Christianity aren't enough. And I'm buying the Narnia set to read to my daughter.

The benefits of reading this book are numerous. I've gained an appreciation for C.S. Lewis beyond what I already had. But more importantly, my desire for heaven and my outlook on the afterlife has been slightly changed. More than a merely spiritual existance, we have a life to look forward to -- a life full of enjoyment and pleasure, unburdened by the worry and bondage of sin. We will be able to do what we want, because our desires will be pure.

This book should be on the shelf of anyone who reads and enjoys Lewis' works, both fiction and nonfiction. It should also be on the shelf of anyone who is interested in learning some very different ways of looking at both Heaven and Hell.

Posted by Warren Kelly at May 13, 2005 01:59 PM | TrackBack
Email me!
Email Protection by Name Intelligence