Lewis a Universalist?

Lewis a Universalist?

Postby PeakMass » February 17th, 2005, 9:27 pm

Alright, I am near completion of my bachelors degree in History and am planning on attending seminary to continue my education and work on my Masters of Divinity. I enjoy Lewis' works... all of them, from Abolition of Man through the Chronicles. In the Final Battle, in the chapter titled "Further Up, Further In," the children come face to face with one of the servants of Tash. It seems to me that Aslan (God) is saying some fairly universalist ideals (namely that if you serve Tash, but do a good work, you are actually serving God). Could someone please explain this to me??? I didn't think that Lewis was a universalist by any means, but to think that children are getting a dose of this, even at a young age, sort of scares me. Thanks for anyone clarifying, or at least trying to!
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Re: Lewis a Universalist?

Postby Sven » February 17th, 2005, 9:31 pm

Welcome, PeakMass,

You might try reading both the Narnia and Apologetics fora. There are several threads in each of them discussing this topic.

Selah,
Sven
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Lewis a Universalist?

Postby Guest » February 18th, 2005, 1:18 am

There is an extensive thread in Lewis:Man-myth. on this topic...I believe that the consensus so far was that Lewis was an inclusivist, but not a Universalist.
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Re: Lewis a Universalist?

Postby Paul F. Ford » February 24th, 2005, 10:43 pm

If you have access to a copy of Companion to Narnia (HarperCollins, 1994), there is an extensive essay on universalism with cross-refereces to other essays in the book.

Paul Ford
Camarillo, CA
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Postby Dogmeat » September 2nd, 2005, 6:45 pm

Paul, I know this is an old thread and I don't know if your still reading it, but I have a question.

I have been preaching through the whole Narnia series and am up to the Last Battle. I have been reading your comments on Lewis and Universalism in your companion. As I read your summary, you do seem to be saying that Lewis is a "de facto" universalist, in that all people will find "complete fulfillment in Christ", regardless of what they believe or have done in life.

I don't wish to debate the idea, but I want to be sure I understand you correctly. Am I on track with your interpretations? Thanks!

Al Sandalow
1st Presbyterian, Ellensburg, WA
BTW, DMIN Fuller 1984
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Lewis a universalist?

Postby Guest » September 3rd, 2005, 9:04 pm

As I read your summary, you do seem to be saying that Lewis is a "de facto" universalist, in that all people will find "complete fulfillment in Christ", regardless of what they believe or have done in life.

I don't wish to debate the idea, but I want to be sure I understand you correctly. Am I on track with your interpretations?

Al,

Thanks for the question. It forced me to look again at what I had hoped would be an improved version of the universalism entry in the fifth edition of Companion to Narnia; and I see I STILL did not make myself clear.

The second-to-the-last sentence of the entry SHOULD read: "Lewis believed that the goodness people find in the world religions finds its ultimate source in Christ and HE HOPED that every person will find complete fulfillment in Christ."

I see I was too dependent on my expectation that people would (have) read ¶15 of Lewis's Preface to his book George MacDonald: An Anthology: "[MacDonald] hopes, indeed, that all men will be saved; but that is because he hopes that all will repent. He knows (none better) that omniptence cannot save the unconverted." I MEANT this to also apply to Lewis.

I also MEANT to show that it was this kind of thinking in Lewis and MacDonald that influenced Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar to write his book, Dare We Hope “That All Men Be Saved”? with A Short Discourse on Hell (San Francisco,: Ignatius, 1988). Urs von Balthasar says that, although we cannot stay orthodox and make universalism the object of an act of FAITH, we must make the possibility that all men will be saved the object of an act of HOPE or otherwise our LOVE will be deficient.

More simply, MacDonald and Lewis and Urs von Balthasar are saying that we must HOPE that all will be saved.

Is that any better?

[signed]
Paul F. Ford
(author of the Companion to Narnia and the Pocket Companion to Narnia )
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For Paul - registrations

Postby carol » September 4th, 2005, 1:01 am

Hi Paul - looks as if you may have been one of the people whose membership got messed up during the recent hacking. You should be able to re-register with your usual name, but if not, PM to Dr Zeus. This thread may help:
re-registering
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Postby Paul F. Ford » September 4th, 2005, 2:08 am

Carol,

I think I am still registered. My log-in works just fine. I just answered offline.

Gratefully,
Paul
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Postby Dogmeat » September 4th, 2005, 4:00 pm

>"Lewis believed that the goodness people find in the world religions finds its ultimate source in Christ and HE HOPED that every person will find complete fulfillment in Christ."
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thanks Paul, for your time. Yes, adding "he hoped" really does change the understanding of that sentence. Funny how important a well positioned word is.

I am no Lewis scholar, just one of the people who has enjoyed and learned from him over the years. But, I would suggest one refinement in this idea.

I don't believe that Lewis holds out the hope that all WILL be saved. I think he is so clear on the reality of a final judgment that such a hope (even if it is a noble, loving one) would be unrealistic.

But, I think it fair to say that Lewis hopes that for some people who have faithfully sought after God in their earthly lives and had not found a faith in Jesus Christ on this side of eternity, that there is hope that God will save these "believers".

Using one of the Narnia books to unwrap such a complicated thought is probably a bit of folly, but even in the Last Battle the experience of Emeth seems to have been very limited, if not unique (the dogs seem to find only one Calorman in Aslan's country).

I think this idea is very different from what we usually describe as "universalism" or even "Unitarianism", but is certainly a departure from the more traditional orthodoxy that is often reflected in Lewis' theology.

I know you are not saying this, but it think it would be inaccurate to simply call Lewis a universalist based on this understanding.

Thanks again!

Rev. Al Sandalow
First Presbyterian
Ellensburg, WA
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Lewis on limited atonement WAS Lewis a universalist?

Postby Paul F. Ford » September 4th, 2005, 4:53 pm

Dogmeat wrote:I think it fair to say that Lewis hopes that for some people who have faithfully sought after God in their earthly lives and had not found a faith in Jesus Christ on this side of eternity, that there is hope that God will save these "believers".

Using one of the Narnia books to unwrap such a complicated thought is probably a bit of folly, but even in the Last Battle the experience of Emeth seems to have been very limited, if not unique (the dogs seem to find only one Calorman in Aslan's country).

Al,

I am glad we are moving closer together in understanding the reason why Lewis told Emeth's story in LB.

If you read Lewis's letters for 5 April 1939 and 8 December 1941, 31 January 1952, 8 November 1952, 3 August 1953, and 18 February 1954—letters written during the gestation of the Chrocnicles of Narnia—you can see that he is wrestling with issues from his Ulster religious upbringing, limited atonement or the scope of God's will to save, works righteousness, and the necessity of this saving THRU Jesus Christ.

It can be said with certainty that Lewis was not traditionally orthodox fater his wrestling with these issues. He was never a universalist or unitarian, but he had also ceased to be strict Calvinist. I believe he would have loved to dialogue with Hans Urs von Balthasar on this issue.

Blessings,
Paul
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Postby Tony » September 14th, 2005, 1:55 am

He wasn't a Calvinist at all. Phew.
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re: Lewis a Universalist?

Postby nelsot5 » May 4th, 2006, 5:35 am

It seems to me that Aslan (God) is saying some fairly universalist ideals (namely that if you serve Tash, but do a good work, you are actually serving God).


I've got a thread running on this topic cause it was a question i have been struggling with. I agree with you that Lewis went to far in saying that service to Tash can be counted as service to Aslan.
Aslan and Tash are opposities, service to one means automatically means defying the other. Look at my thread "Emeth get into Hevean-Aslan's startling response!" view it here
http://cslewis.drzeus.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5394
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