And What He Finds There is Hell

The characteristic of lost souls is “their rejection of everything that is not simply themselves.”  Our imaginary egoist has tried to turn everything he meets into a province or appendage of the self.  The taste for the other, that is, the very capacity for enjoying  good, is quenched in him except in so far as his body still draws him into some rudimentary contact with an outer world.  Death removes this last contact.  He has his wish – to lie wholly in the self and to make the best of what he finds there.  And what he finds there is Hell.

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

as quoted by Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page

Equal and Opposite Errors Regarding the Devils

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.  The sort of script which is used in this book can be very easily obtained by anyone who has once learned the knack; but ill-disposed or excitable people who might make a bad use of it shall not learn it from me.

– Lewis, C.S.; The Screwtape Letters

as quoted by Brown, Steve; Three Free Sins: God’s Not Mad At YouHoward Books;  New York, copyright 2012; Kindle Edition; Location 1923

Doctrinal Books as Sources for Personal Devotion

For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others.  I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a touching bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.

– C.S. Lewis

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 127

Pleasures are Shafts of Glory

Pleasures are shafts of glory as it strikes our sensibility…But aren’t there bad, unlawful pleasures?  Certainly there are.  But in calling them “bad pleasures” I take it we are using a kind of shorthand.  We mean “pleasures snatched by unlawful acts.”  It is the stealing of the bad apples that is bad, not the sweetness.  The sweetness is still a beam from the glory…I have tried since…to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration.  I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it.  One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different…Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.”  Adoration says, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far off and momentary coruscations are like this!”  One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun…If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline.  But it is worth some labor.

C.S. Lewis

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 18

Men Without Chests

In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function.  We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.  We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful.

– C.S. Lewis

as quoted by Geisler, Norm and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, copyright 2004, page 40

Instead of Apologies, We Give God Bad Excuses and Are All Too Easily Satisfied With Ourselves

Now it seems to me that we often make a mistake both about God’s forgiveness of our sins and about the forgiveness of our sins and about the forgiveness we are told to offer to other people’s sins.  Take it first about God’s forgiveness.  I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different.  I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me.  But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing.  Forgiveness says “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.”  But excusing says “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.”  If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive.  In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites.  Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two.  Part of what seemed at first to be the sins turns out to be really nobody’s fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven.  If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness; if the whole of your action needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it. But the trouble is that what we call “asking God’s forgiveness” very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses.  What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some “extenuating circumstances.”  We are so very anxious to point these out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing’ that is, the bit left over, the bit to which the excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable.  And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we ahve repented and been forgiving when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses.  They may be very bad excuses, we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.

– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, copyright 1949, 1976, page 178-179

If You Do Not Forgive, You Will Not be Forgiven

We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us.  There is no doubt about the second part of this statement.  It is in the Lord’s Prayer; t was emphatically stated by our Lord.  If you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven.  No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it.  He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort.  we are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated.  If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own.

– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, copyright 1949, 1976, page 178

Only a New Creature Can Inherent Eternal Life

I have wanted to try to expel that quite un-Christian worship of the human individual simply as such which is so rampant in modern thought side by side with our collectivism, for one error begets the opposite error and, far from neutralizing, they aggravate each other.  I mean the pestilent notion (one sees it in literary criticism) that each of us starts with a treasure called “personality” locked up inside him, and that to expand and express this, to guard it from interference, to be “original”, is the main end of life.  This is Pelagian, or worse, and it defeats even itself.  No man who values originality will ever be original.  But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work’s sake, and what men call originality will come unsought.  even on that level, the submission of the individual to the function is already beginning to bring true personality to birth.  And secondly, I have wanted to show that Christianity is not, in the long run, concerned either with individuals or communities.  Neither the individual nor the community as popular thought understands them can inherit eternal life, neither the natural self, nor the collective mass, but a new creature.

– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, copyright 1949, 1976, page 175-176

To Die for Valuable Men Would Not be Divine but Only Heroic

God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him.  The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero.  As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners.  He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love.  It may be that He loves all equally – He certainly loved all to the death – and I am not certain what the expression means.  If there is equality, it is in His love, not in us.

– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, copyright 1949, 1976, page 170

Political Equality

I believe in political equality.  But there are two opposite reasons for being a democrat.  You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice.  That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy.  On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows.

– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, copyright 1949, 1976, page 168