Chapter 6 - Wrestling with Heaven and Hell
Chapter 6 - Wrestling with Heaven and Hell E-mail


Lewis Agonistes: How C. S. Lewis Can Train Us
To Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern World


1.  How did the Enlightenment ethos of equality affect the traditionally biblical notions of heaven and hell?

2.  How does the existence of free will require there be a hell?

3.  Lewis states in many of his writings that it is not a single big sin that condemns a person to hell, but a succession of small sinful choices (i.e. a process).  See excerpt from Mere Christianity below.  Do you agree/disagree?

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, "If you keep a lot of rules I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing."  I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.  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: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. . . . Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.  Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 4

4.  Describe Lewis's contention (as illustrated by the grumbler in chapter 9 of The Great Divorce) that a habitual sin eventually dehumanizes a person. 

5.  Why is idolizing a "good thing" (such as mother love or patriotism) more likely to pull someone away from God than idolizing a "bad thing"?  How can love become a demon?

6. Markos defines love as "the movement out of narcissism" (p. 160).  How did/does God demonstrate his love per this definition?  In what ways can you move out of narcissism toward God?  Toward others?

7.  Distinguish between the views of heaven as mercenary wish fulfillment and heaven as the consummation of desire.

8.  What do you consider to be the greatest gift C. S. Lewis gave to our generation?


For more on this topic, I recommend Beyond the Shadowlands: C. S. Lewis on heaven and hell by Wayne Martindale (Crossway, 2005).

© 2010 by Allyson Wieland