C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Author and Professor

NOTE: C.S. Lewis was not a universalist. All his Christian life he defended the idea of hell. He is included on this page to show his thought process in regard to universalism.


I found interesting that when C. S. Lewis began writing Christian apologetics as in THE PROBLEM OF PAIN, he said that the orthodox Chrisitan doctrine of hell had "the full support of Scripture."

BUT . . . a few years later when writing THE GREAT DIVORCE, Lewis introduced as a character, George MacDonald (who was a real-life Christian universalist from a generation or two before Lewis), and Lewis had that character say, "St. Paul talked as if all men would be saved." Neither did Lewis have the angel in that novel deny MacDonald's interpretation of St. Paul's words, but only had the angel reply that it was not for man to ask such questions. So in Lewis's opinion, God's ultimate plan remained hidden from prying human eyes.

In that same novel Lewis also quoted a Catholic mystic (Julian of Norwich) saying that "All manner of things will be well."

My point is that even C. S. Lewis felt strongly enough about that hidden possibility to RAISE the question in one of his novels for all his readers to ponder.

I also read George MacDonald's novel LILITH in which he employed sleep as a means of healing tortured souls, a cosmic sleep that preceded salvation of all. MacDonald was a universalist Christian minister who also wrote the tombstone poem Martin Elginbrode:

Here Lie I, Martin Elginbrod
God have mercy on my soul,
As I would do if I were God,
and ye were Martin Elginbrod

C. S. Lewis praised the novel, LILITH and also called George MacDonald "my spiritual mentor."

One of Lewis's lifelong friends was also Dom Bede Griffiths. Griffiths became an ecumenical Catholic priest, and ran a Christian ashram in India were he prayed and met with Buddhist monks and Hindu priests. Near the end of Lewis's life, Dom even got his longtime friend and fellow Christian, C.S.Lewis to admit in a letter: "Even more disturbing as you [Dom] say, is the ghastly record of Christian persecution. It had begun in Our Lord's time - `Ye know not what spirit ye are of' (John of all people!) I think we must fully face the fact that when Christianity does not make a man very much better, it makes him very much worse...Conversion may make of one who was, if no better, no worse than an animal, something like a devil." [C. S. Lewis in a letter to Bede Griffiths, dated Dec. 20, 1961, not long before Lewis' death, The Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed., W. H. Lewis, (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1966), p. 301.]

It's also clear from Lewis's works that Lewis believed that even the most peculiar religions contained "at least some hint of the truth." "There are people in other religions who...belong to Christ without knowing it." "We do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him." In fact, in Lewis' fairy tale, The Last Battle, prince Emeth "hated" the name of "Aslan [the Christ-figure]," and worshiped the false god, "Tash," but prince Emeth was loved and accepted by Aslan after Emeth died.[119] And as I already pointed out, Lewis had a character in his novel, The Great Divorce, say, "St. Paul talked as if all men would be saved." Lewis was possibly referring to verses such as:

"All Israel will be saved...[for] they [the Jews] are beloved [by God] for the sake of the fathers: for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable... or God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all." [Romans 11:26,28,29,32]

"O' the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out...For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things." [Romans 11:33,36]

"For just as all people die because of their union with Adam, in the same way all will be raised to life because of their union with Christ." [1 Corinthians 15:22]

"God was pleased...through him [Jesus] to reconcile to himself all things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." [Colossians 1:19-20]

--Edward T. Babinski

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