"If our words are ambiguous our meaning will escape [the reader]," wrote C.S. Lewis. "I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or the right, the readers will most certainly go into it."
Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about man's search for God. For me, they might as well talk about the mouse's search for a cat... C. S. LEWIS
The very man who has argued you down, will sometimes be found, years later, to have been influenced by what you said. CS Lewis
There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way." C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) The Great Divorce
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. C.S. Lewis: The Problem of Pain
There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ('man's search for God'!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?
C.S. Lewis: Miracles
Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are, the more you need it and the less you can do it. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
One of the great difficulties is to keep before the audience's mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good.... You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. God in the Dock , C S Lewis
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), "Is Theology Poetry?"
I could never have gone far in any science because on the path of every science the lion Mathematics lies in wait for you. C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, Ch.IX
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C S Lewis - The Problem of Pain
The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life coming flowing in. C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) Mere Christianity.
He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart.
C S Lewis Letters to an American Lady
There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of "heaven" ridiculous by saying they do not want "to spend eternity playing harps." The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolic attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendour and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs. C. S. LEWIS, Mere Christianity
Lewis became a Christian: One evening in September, Lewis had a long talk on Christianity with J.R.R. Tolkien (a devout Roman Catholic) and Hugo Dyson. (The summary of that discussion is recounted for Arthur Greeves in They Stand Together.) That evening's discussion was important in bringing about the following day's event that Lewis recorded in Surprised by Joy: "When we [Warnie and Jack] set out [by motorcycle to the Whipsnade Zoo] I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did."
If the [Incarnation] happened, it was the central event in the history of the Earth -- the very thing that the whole story has been about. Since it happened only once, it is by Hume's standards infinitely improbable. But then, the whole history of the Earth has also happened only once: is it therefore incredible? Hence the difficulty, which weighs upon Christian and atheist alike, of estimating the probability of the Incarnation. It is like asking whether the existence of nature herself is intrinsically probable. That is why it is easier to argue, on historical grounds, that the Incarnation actually occurred than to show, on philosophical grounds, the probability of its occurrence.
... C. S. Lewis, Miracles
What we have been told is how we men can be drawn into Christ -- can become part of that wonderful present which the young Prince of the universe wants to offer to His Father -- that present which is Himself and therefore us in Him. It is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are drawn in, a great many other things in Nature will begin to come right. The bad dream will be over: it will be morning.
... C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Thanks to Kerry Callahan
Our imitation of God in this life -- that is, our willed imitation, as distinct from any likenesses which He has impressed upon our natures or our states -- must be an imitation of God Incarnate. Our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this, so strangely unlike anything we can attribute to the divine life in itself, is apparently not only like, but is, the divine life operating under human conditions.
... C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Men say, "How are we to act, what are we to teach our children, now that we are no longer Christians?" You see, gentlemen, how I would answer that question. You are deceived in thinking that the morality of your father was based on Christianity. On the contrary, Christianity presupposed it. That morality stands exactly where it did; its basis has not been withdrawn, for, in a sense, it never had a basis. The ultimate ethical injunctions have always been premises, never conclusions. Kant was perfectly right on that point at least, the imperative is categorical. Unless the ethical is assumed from the outset, no argument will bring you to it.
... C. S. Lewis, "On Ethics"
I will attempt no historical or theological classification of [George] Macdonald's thought, partly because I have not the learning to do so, still more because I am no great friend to such pigeon-holing. One very effective way of silencing the voice of conscience is to impound in an Ism the teacher through whom it speaks; the trumpet no longer seriously disturbs our rest when we have murmured '..Thomist', 'Barthian', or 'Existentialist'. And in Macdonald it is, always the voice of conscience that speaks. He addresses the will: the demand for obedience, for "something to be neither more nor less nor other than done" is incessant. Yet in that very voice of conscience every other faculty somehow speaks as well -- intellect and imagination and humour and fancy and all the affections; and no man in modern times was perhaps more aware of the distinction between Law and Gospel, the inevitable failure of mere morality.
... C. S. Lewis, preface to George Macdonald, an Anthology
To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life -- to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son -- how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it means to refuse God's mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.
... C. S. Lewis, "On Forgiveness"
It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.
... C. S. Lewis
I have often, on my knees, been shocked to find what sort of thoughts I have, for a moment, been addressing to God; what infantile placations I was really offering, what claims I have really made, even what absurd adjustments or compromises I was, half-consciously, proposing. There is a Pagan, savage heart in me somewhere. For unfortunately the folly and idiot-cunning of Paganism seem to have far more power of surviving than its innocent or even beautiful elements. It is easy, once you have power, to silence the pipes, still the dances, disfigure the statues, and forget the stories; but not easy to kill the savage, the greedy, frightened creature now cringing, now blustering in one's soul.
... C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
If I say to you that no one has time to finish, that the longest human life leaves a man, in any branch of learning, a beginner, I shall seem to you to be saying something quite academic and theoretical. You would be surprised if you knew how soon one begins to feel the shortness of the tether: of how many things, even in middle life, we have to say, "No time for that", "Too late now" and "Not for me". But Nature herself forbids you [young people] to share that experience. A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God's hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not.
... C. S. Lewis, "Learning in War-Time"
An essential part of the ordination exam ought to be a passage from some recognized theological work set for translation into vulgar English -- just like doing Latin prose. Failure on this part should mean failure on the whole exam. It is absolutely disgraceful that we expect missionaries to the Bantus to learn Bantu, but never ask whether our missionaries to the Americans or English can speak American or English. Any fool can write learned language: the vernacular is the real test. If you can't turn your faith into it, then either you don't understand it or you don't believe it.
... C. S. Lewis in "The Christian Century"
Don't imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call "humble" nowadays: he won't be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who's always telling you that, of course, he's nobody. Probably all you'll think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him, it will be because you feel a bit envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He won't be thinking about himself at all. There I must stop. If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you're not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.
... C. S. Lewis, Christian Behaviour
Even if all the things that people prayed for happened -- which they do not -- this would not prove what Christians mean by the efficacy of prayer. For prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them. Invariable "success" in prayer would not prove the Christian doctrine at all. It would prove something more like magic -- a power in certain human beings to control, or compel, the course of nature.
... C. S. Lewis, "The Efficacy of Prayer
I have called my material surroundings a stage set. In this I can act. And you may well say "act". For what I call "myself" (for all practical, everyday purposes) is also a dramatic construction; memories, glimpses in the shaving glass, and snatches of the very fallible activity called "introspection", are the principal ingredients. Normally I call this construction "me"' and the stage set "the real world". Now the moment of prayer is for me -- or involves for me as its condition -- the awareness, the reawakened awareness, that this "real world" and "real self" are very far from being rock-bottom realities. I cannot, in the flesh, leave the stage, either to go behind the scenes or to take my seat in the pit; but I can remember that these regions exist. And I also remember that my apparent self -- this clown or hero or super -- under his grease-paint is a real person with an off-stage life. The dramatic person could not tread the stage unless he concealed a real person: unless the real and unknown I existed, I would not even make mistakes about the imagined me. And in prayer this real I struggles to speak, for once, from his real being, and to address, for once, not the other actors, but -- what shall I call Him? The Author, for He invented us all? The Producer, for He controls all? Or the Audience, for He watches, and will judge, the performance?
... C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm
In most parts of the Bible, everything is implicitly or explicitly introduced with "Thus saith the Lord". It is... not merely a sacred book but a book so remorselessly and continuously sacred that it does not invite -- it excludes or repels -- the merely aesthetic approach. You can read it as literature only by a tour de force... It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms: it will not continue to give literary delight very long, except to those who go to it for something quite different. I predict that it will in the future be read, as it always has been read, almost exclusively by Christians.
... C. S. Lewis, They Asked for a Paper
If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning -- just as, if there were no light in the universe, and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know that it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
... C. S. Lewis
If... you are ever tempted to think that we modern Western Europeans cannot really be so very bad because we are, comparatively speaking, humane -- if, in other words, you think God might be content with us on that ground -- ask yourself whether you think God ought to have been content with the cruelty of past ages because they excelled in courage or chastity. You will see at once that this is an impossibility. From considering how the cruelty of our ancestors looks to us, you may get some inkling of how our softness, worldliness, and timidity would have looked to them, and hence how both must look to God.
... C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 52
We must not encourage in ourselves or others any tendency to work up a subjective state which, if we succeeded, we should describe as "faith", with the idea that this will somehow ensure the granting of our prayer. We have probably all done this as children. But the state of mind which desperate desire working on a strong imagination can manufacture is not faith in the Christian sense. It is a feat of psychological gymnastics.
... C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm
I too had noticed that our prayers for others flow more easily than those we offer on our own behalf. And it would be nice to accept your view that this just shows we are made to live by charity. I'm afraid, however, I detect two much less attractive reasons for the ease of my own intercessory prayers. One is that I am often, I believe, praying for others when I should be doing things for them. It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see him. And the other is like unto it. Suppose I pray that you may be given grace to withstand your besetting sin (short list of candidates for this post will be forwarded on demand). Well, all the work has to be done by God and you. If I pray against my own besetting sin there will be work for me. One sometimes fights shy of admitting an act to be a sin for this very reason.
... C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm