The Logic of Purgatory in C.S. Lewis: Why Spiritual Formation Makes Less Sense Without It
Purgatory figures significantly as a theme in the writing of C.S. Lewis. The Great Divorce represents the major fictional piece treating the subject, but theological allusions and references surface in Till We Have Faces, Narnia, and other fictional works, as well as in many of the essays.
This paper presents two main points: first, Lewis's logic of purgatory. Such an argument, though not stated explicitly anywhere by Lewis, might run like this: God is holy and human beings cannot remain in God's presence (comfortably or for long) without becoming holy themselves. Lewis consistently maintained a robust theology of sanctification. Next, if human beings are free -- and we are -- then God will not force us to let go of our sin. As illustrated so clearly in The Great Divorce, we cannot drag our Hell into Heaven with us (or it would cease to be Heaven). Therefore, to dwell with God in eternity, we must be purged of the sin that separates us from God.
The second point of the paper seeks to show how contemporary Protestants tend to think of death as instantly glorifying the individual. Not only would this be a breach of human freedom, it nearly makes spiritual formation in this life optional.
For any theology to take spiritual formation seriously, it ought to consider the biblical and theological roots of the purgatorial (in this life and the next) if not Purgatory itself as an actual place of residence.
"The Logic of Purgatory in C.S. Lewis: Why Spiritual Formation Makes Less Sense Without It,"
Inklings Forever: Published Colloquium Proceedings 1997-2016: Vol. 8, Article 16.
Available at: https://pillars.taylor.edu/inklings_forever/vol8/iss1/16
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