For use with Chapters 13 & 14
For use with Chapters 13 & 14 E-mail

For use with chapters 13 and 14 of Surprised by Joy

 

Lewis identified this five-point progression of his spiritual journey to faith in the preface to The Pilgrim's Regress.  (Note: in my 1992 Eerdmans edition, it is the called "Afterward to the Third Edition.")


Popular realism--

The only reality is what one experiences through the five senses.  Lewis's tutor Kirkpatrick would have been a strong influence here.

Philosophical idealism--

The world we perceive through our senses is only an appearance.  There is an Absolute behind the curtain.  The English Hegelians and Henri Bergson influenced Lewis at this stage during his student days at Oxford.

Pantheism--

The Absolute of the Idealists seemed too vague to Lewis, so he shifted to an Absolute who was immanent in nature.

Theism--

Eventually pantheism did not suit because Lewis believed truth and goodness should be linked.  A pantheist god made no moral demands.  Later, in Miracles, Lewis wrote: "The Pantheist's God does nothing, demands nothing.  He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf.  He will not pursue you."  Lewis made the shift to Theism in Trinity Term 1929 when he became the most "reluctant convert in all England."

Christianity--

Occurred Sept. 28, 1931 on the way to Whipsnade Zoo.  Nine days earlier, he talked with Dyson and Tolkien until 4 am about how Christianity is "true mythology."  In a letter dated October 1, 1931 to Arthur Greeves, Lewis wrote: "I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ-in Christianity. . . . [my] long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it."

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            Lewis talked in The Screwtape Letters about viewing the inner self as three concentric circles.  One's will is at the center. Intellect is the second circle. Imagination is the outer circle.

            Beginning at the outside and working inward, in 1916, Lewis's imagination was baptized when he read George MacDonald's book, Phantastes.  His intellect told him by 1929 that the Absolute must indeed be God (Surprised by Joy, ch 14).  But it wasn't until 1931 that he recognized Christ as God incarnate and surrendered his will to him (Surprised by Joy, ch 15).                        
From David Downing, The Most Reluctant Convert, p. 140