We’re going to discuss if Lewis believed in purgatory at the end of the week — and I am eager for your views. He says some very controversial things in Chapter 9.
But first, a life-changing chapter on the purpose of suffering.
So often I have asked:
“Why must this child of yours, who loves you, suffer so?”
So many of the sisters on the blog seem to be
pummeled with one giant wave after another!
I ask that they be spared, and He sends another killer wave!
I say, “No, no, no — that’s not what I asked for!”
But prayer is not ordering off a menu,
asking for what I want,
but rather, attempting to align my will
with the will of Almighty God.
We are in the next to the last week of Mere Christianity,
and indeed, Lewis has saved the best for last —
truths that illumine our suffering and can give us real hope.
We often come to Christ, Lewis explains,
in hopes of a little remodeling.
We’d like to be done with our bad temper or tendency to drink too much —
we’d like to be made into a “decent little cottage.”
But no! He is not just remodeling, he is tearing down
our whole house in a way that hurts abominably.
He will not be satisfied until we are perfect!
One day, we will be perfect.
It has been good for me to go through this classic slowly,
for there are such gems.
There are also things that give me pause, and I want to discuss those things with you as well. In fact, I’m hoping to draw in those who do disagree with Lewis this week, for Lewis, though one of the most gifted men who ever lived,
is still not on par with the Word of God.
Welcome to a week of pondering, sharpening, and growing!
1.What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. How have you grown from the last killer wave that hit you? (I realize you might not want to share details, or you may, but I’d like you to share how you’ve grown.)
Monday: Is Christianity Hard or Easy?
Christ tells us:
Yet then He turns around and says:
How do these seemingly contradictory statements go together?
Listen to or read Book 4, Chapter 8, and see if you can find the answer.
3. Share your notes and comments.
Reflecting on Chapter 8.
4. How would Lewis answer the question: “Is Christianity hard or easy?”
5. When you look at your own journey and your own heart, do you think the following statement of Lewis’ was/is true of you?
But we are hoping all the time when the demands [of decent morality] have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, and some time, to get on with its own life and do what it wants.
Lewis explains that Christianity is easy if we surrender all — yet that feels so frightening, like being asked to parachute from the sky!
In truth, though we may think we surrendered all when we first came ot Christ, that really is not possible. Jim Elliot observed that no one could give a whole life to Christ in one moment. Surrender comes bit by bit — with each new challenge. When we surrender that bit, we feel good about it, but then! He asks us to surrender more! Lewis says that this surrender begins every morning, when all our own wishes and dreams rush at us like wild animals.
6. What encouragement does Lewis give us as surrender begins to be a pattern in our lives?
Wednesday: Count the Cost
Before I trusted Christ I asked my sister, “Would Steve and I have to give up the house on the water that we are planning to build?”
After crying out to God silently, my sister said, “In your case, yes.” She felt the house was a god in my life and would have to go. She was asking me to count the cost. I’ve admired that, for she could have feared that I would walk away. Instead, she was doing what Jesus did, when everyone was following Him, wanting food, wanting healing…and He turned around and said, “Count the cost.” I wonder if the reason so many Christians are so weak, is because they have not come to terms with the cost. Indeed, salvation is a free gift, but when we come to Christ, it must be for who He is, and He is Lord of lords and King of kings.
7. Before Christ, or during your journey, were you ever asked to count the cost? What thoughts do you have on this?
8. Read or listen to chapter 9 and share your notes and comments.
Thursday-Friday: Reflecting on Chapter 9.
9. What point was Lewis making with his toothache illustration?
10. How might this relate to our heart idols? To facing suffering?
11. The fourth paragraph in this chapter gave me some pause — I agree with most of it, but there were phrases that caused me to ponder if Lewis was right. Read it, and see if there is anything in it that causes you to pause as well. (I will tell you — but don’t look ahead!) It is the paragraph that begins with “This is why He warned people to ‘count the cost’…” Read it slowly and see if anything jars you. If so, what and why?
The phrase that most bothered me was the one I’ve put in red:
“Whatever suffering it might cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it might cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest…until you are perfect.” I have heard people accuse Lewis of believing in purgatory, but I thought they misunderstood that The Great Divorce was a metaphor, not to be pressed so hard. But now I wonder, and perhaps this is why Catholics like him so…I don’t see how we can be fully forgiven and cleansed, how Christ’s blood can be sufficient, and yet we still need to go through some kind of suffering after death.
12. What are your thoughts on the above and why?
13. What scriptural case can you make for or against purgatory?
The other phrase that he repeats that troubles me a bit is “if we let Him.” I know that we have free will, but I also believe that I was DEAD and couldn’t choose anything, and He came and breathed life into me. And I know He will make me perfect, whether I resist Him or not, for when I see Him I will be like Him. It won’t happen on earth, but He will make it happen. Many of you may not be troubled by this recurring phrase in Lewis, but I am — though I love the man, have learned so much from him, and will run and thank him in heaven. And I think, Who am I to question Lewis — and yet, we are all mere mortals, and he could be wrong about this.
14. What thoughts do you have on the above and why?
15.What is your take-a-way and why?