Sunday, June 28, 2009

Book Review: C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church

I just finished reading the book "C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church" by Joseph Pearce (a Roman Catholic convert). It was very illuminating about the inner conflicts C.S. Lewis had and the reasons why he didn't become a Roman Catholic. It seemed like in the end it was 2 reasons.

The first was that he was raised an "Ulster Protestant" Northern Irish Unionist who had it ingrained in him (he admitted it) that he could not be a Catholic for it would be a betrayal of his heritage.

The second was that he denied the infallibility of the Pope and his jurisdiction over England.

But, Lewis also said that if the Anglican Church ordained Priestesses that Anglicans would be forced to either become atheists or Roman Catholics. Lewis himself never faced this choice but many of his closest friends did and some of them (like Walter Hooper) went to Rome.

Pearce gets a little preachy at times, but other than that he is fairly balanced and doesn't try to make it look like C.S. Lewis was through and through Catholic or anything like that. He just looks at his views of the sacraments, the operation of grace, purgatory, and ecclesiology and shows how similar Lewis' views were (if not completely in line with) Catholic dogma.

It also showed how much Lewis utterly despised Purtanism and the Low and Broad church Anglicans. But he hated T.S. Eliot and other Royalist Anglo-Catholics, even though I think in the end it is best to label C.S. Lewis an Anglo-Catholic theologically, who detested certain famous Anglo-Catholics.

Lewis' views on Confession in the Anglican church as opposed to the Roman Church are also interesting, I tend to agree with him that it should be a matter of conscience and not obligatory to confess.

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