C.S. Lewis Quotes
I count C.S.Lewis as one of the clearest and truly deep thinkers of my times (ie, 20 and 21st centuries). He had a profound effect on my that continues to this day - see Tardus Society
As these quotations are all brief and not in any way substantial portions of Lewis's works (still largely under copyright) I believe them all to be within the boundaries of "fair dealing". If I am wrong please let me know.
The notion that everyone would like Christianity to be true, and therefore that all atheists are brave men who have accepted the defeat of all their deepest desires, is simply impudent nonsense. - "Encounter with Light"
Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst. Of all created beings the wickedest is one who originally stood in the immediate presence of God. - "Reflections on the Psalms"
All the essentials of Hinduism would, I think, remain unimpaired if you subtracted the miraculous, and the same is almost true of Mohammedanism. But you cannot do that with Christianity. It is precisely the story of a great Miracle. A naturalistic Christianity leaves out all that is specifically Christian. - "Miracles", ch. 10
We may ignore, but nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. - "Letters to Malcolm", ch. 14
No philosophical theory which I have yet come across is a radical improvement on the words of Genesis, that 'In the beginning God made the Heaven and the Earth.' - "Miracles", ch. 4
'Are you not thirsty?' said the Lion. 'I'm dying of thirst,' said Jill. 'Then drink,' said the Lion. 'May I - could I - would you mind going away while I do?' said Jill. The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl.... 'I daren't come and drink,' said Jill. 'Then you will die of thirst,' said the Lion. 'Oh dear!' said Jill, coming another step nearer. 'I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.' 'There is no other stream,' said the Lion. "The Silver Chair", ch. 2
'Yes,' said Queen Lucy. 'In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.' - "The Last Battle", ch. 13
In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere - 'Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,' as Herbert says, 'fine nets and stratagems.' God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous. - "Surprised by Joy", ch. 12
If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be: if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all. - "Man or Rabbit?"
No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God's hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods. - "The Great Divorce", ch. 11
If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about. - "Mere Christianity", bk 4, ch. 2
Where can you taste the joy of obeying unless He bids you do something for which His bidding is the only reason? - "Perelandra", ch. 9
There are two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done", and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.' - "The Great Divorce", ch. 9
But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof on a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it. C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity"
Men are mirrors, or "carriers" of Christ to other men. Sometimes unconscious carriers. This "good infection" can be carried by those who have not got it themselves. People who were not Christians themselves helped me to Christianity. But usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important. You might say that when two Christians are following Christ together there is not twice as much Christianity as when they are apart, but sixteen as much. C.S. Lewis, - "Mere Christianity"
Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. C.S. Lewis, - "Mere Christianity"
I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. C.S. Lewis, - "Mere Christianity"
.. as if "religion" were something God invented, and not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature. C.S. Lewis, - "Mere Christianity"
In a way I quite understand why some people are put off by Theology. I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old hard-bitten officer got up and said, "I've no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I'm a religious man too. I know there's a God. I've felt Him out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that's just why I don't believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who's met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!" Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America. Now, Theology is like the map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God - experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion - all about feeling God in nature, and so on - is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map. C.S. Lewis, - "Mere Christianity"
Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others . . . but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God 'sending us' to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud. C.S.Lewis, - "The Great Divorce"
The difficulty in preaching Christ in India is that there is no difficulty. One is up against true Paganism - the best sort of it as well as the worst - hospitable to all gods, naturally religious, ready to take any shape but able to retain none. - Letters, 30th April 1959
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