CS Lewis on Purgatory

Someone posted this question on a “MySpace” message board. Since I took the time to respond, I figured I could make use of my response here as well.

Did C.S. Lewis believe in Purgatory? Yes, but…

Wayne Martindale has a great discussion of this in his recent book, Beyond the Shadowlands (2005, Crossway)…

"To summarize, among theologians who believe in Purgatory, there are two views: Purgatory is reserved for those who are already saved as part of their sanctification or preparation for heaven (that’s one view), or for those who are in the process of being saved (that’s the second). Lewis embraced the first view." (202)

Lewis rejected what he called the "Romish" view of Purgatory- that one could be saved there. For Lewis, no one who is in Purgatory is lost. Rather, people spend time in Purgatory to be cleansed of their sin so they may stand before God in all of His holiness. In Letters to Malcolm he put it this way, "The saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed." (108)

--Roger Overton, from HERE


Rob said…
-Lewis rejected what he called the "Romish" view of Purgatory- that one could be saved there-

Of course, this isn't the "Romish" view, nor has it ever been. Since CS Lewis was intelligent, I presume he never held this view and that the error is in the reporting.
Abu Daoud said…
I agree, of course we must understand that Lewis was reacting against what at this time was the predominant view of Roman Catholics. I think the teachings of JPII and BXVI are considerably more nuanced and, to use a daring word, Biblical.
Fletcher said…
Where do we find clear teachings on purgatory in the scriptures? I would expect the scriptures to be repleat with teachings on a doctrine that significant but I don't know of any offhand?
Rob said…
There is little basis for it in Scripture, though there are some passages about being "thrown in jail until he pasys the last penny." and something in Peter's epistles. It is a part of Tradition, which is older than Scripture, and attested to by both the Orthodox and the Roman church.
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Fletcher,

I agree with Rob, there is no direct, explicit evidence of Purgatory in Scripture, which should make us vary cautious.

Which is why I think that Lewis is insightful in saying that Purgatory, if it even exists, is more of a voluntary time of preparation before our encounter with the glory of God.

This would mean that Purgatory is really just a part of Heaven, which some Catholics may not like. That is the reason I like Lewis on this topic: he is willing to reflect on the topic without simply making accusations either way.
Rob said…
-This would mean that Purgatory is really just a part of Heaven, which some Catholics may not like.-

But it is a part of Heaven, in the sense that everyone there is going to Heaven. Why would this make us upset? People should read about Roman Catholicism before teaching it.
JohnG. said…
Intersting stuff have been written here.

Another biblical argument for Purgatory is Matt12/32 where it is implied that any sins could be forgiven in the "age to come".

Concerning catholic point of view, rob is right : Purgatory is for people who are saved : the catechism quotes : "1030 All who die IN God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, ARE indeed ASSURED of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. 1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the ELECT..."

A beautiful texte of JPII on Purgatory (many insights) : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_04081999_en.html

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