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 C. S. Lewis Quotes
82 Famous Quotes by C. S. Lewis
11/29/1898 - 11/22/1963
Also Known As:  
N. W. Clerk     Clive Staples Lewis     C.S. Lewis
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About C. S. Lewis

Commemoration of Wilfrid, Abbot of Ripon, Bishop of York, Missionary, 709 Commemoration of Elizabeth Fry, Prison Reformer, 1845 No nation, and few individuals, are really brought into [God's] camp by the historical study of the biography of Jesus, simply as biography. Indeed, materials for a full biography have been withheld from men. The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact (the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine (the Redemption) operating on a sense of win which they already had... The "Gospels" came later and were written not to make Christians but to edify Christians already made.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Cecilia, Martyr at Rome, c.230 Commemoration of Clive Staples Lewis, Spiritual Writer, 1963 The sort of love I have been describing... can also be felt for bodies that claim more than a natural affection: for a Church or (alas) a party in a Church, or for a religious order. This terrible subject would require a book to itself. Here it will be enough to say that the Heavenly Society is also an earthly society. Our (merely natural) patriotism towards the latter can very easily borrow the transcendent claims of the former and use them to justify the most abominable actions. If ever the book which I am not going to write is written, it must be the full confession by Christendom of Christendom's specific contribution to the sum of human cruelty and treachery. Large areas of "the World" will not hear us till we have publicly disowned much of our past. Why should they? We have shouted the name of Christ and enacted the service of Moloch.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Eglantine Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of 'Save the Children', 1928 What makes some theological works like sawdust to me is the way the authors can go on discussing how far certain positions are adjustable to contemporary thought, or beneficial in relation to social problems, or "have a future" before them, but never squarely ask what grounds we have for supposing them to be true accounts of any objective reality. As if we were trying to make rather than to learn. Have we no Other to reckon with?

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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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 Heaven 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. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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We must sometimes get away from the Authorized Version, if for no other reason, simply because it is so beautiful and so solemn. Beauty exalts, but beauty also lulls. Early associations endear, but they also confuse. Through that beautiful solemnity, the transporting or horrifying realities of which the Book tells may come to us blunted and disarmed, and we may only sigh with tranquil veneration when we ought to be burning with shame, or struck dumb with terror, or carried out of ourselves by ravishing hopes and adorations.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Ini Kopuria, Founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, 1945 The very strength and facility of the pessimists' case at once poses us a problem. If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief. The spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been the ground of religion: it must have always been something in spite of which religion, acquired from a different source, was held.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Cecilia, Martyr at Rome, c.230 Commemoration of Clive Staples Lewis, Spiritual Writer, 1963 The faint, far-off results of those energies which God's creative rapture implanted in matter when He made the worlds are what we now call physical pleasures; and even thus filtered, they are too much for our present management. What would it be to taste at the fountain-head that stream of which even these lower reaches prove so intoxicating? Yet that, I believe, is what lies before us. As St. Augustine said, the rapture of the saved soul will "flow over" into the glorified body. In the light of our present specialized and depraved appetites, we cannot imagine this [torrent of pleasure], and I warn everyone most seriously not to try. But it must be mentioned, to drive out thoughts even more misleading--thoughts that what is saved is a mere ghost, or that the risen body lives in numb insensibility. The body is made for the Lord, and these dismal fancies are wide of the mark.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Don't imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call "humble" nowadays: he won't be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who's always telling you that, of course, he's nobody. Probably all you'll think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him, it will be because you feel a bit envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He won't be thinking about himself at all. There I must stop. If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you're not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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In most parts of the Bible, everything is implicitly or explicitly introduced with "Thus saith the Lord". It is... not merely a sacred book but a book so remorselessly and continuously sacred that it does not invite -- it excludes or repels -- the merely aesthetic approach. You can read it as literature only by a tour de force... It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms: it will not continue to give literary delight very long, except to those who go to it for something quite different. I predict that it will in the future be read, as it always has been read, almost exclusively by Christians.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Ascension If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning -- just as, if there were no light in the universe, and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know that it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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If... you are ever tempted to think that we modern Western Europeans cannot really be so very bad because we are, comparatively speaking, humane -- if, in other words, you think God might be content with us on that ground -- ask yourself whether you think God ought to have been content with the cruelty of past ages because they excelled in courage or chastity. You will see at once that this is an impossibility. From considering how the cruelty of our ancestors looks to us, you may get some inkling of how our softness, worldliness, and timidity would have looked to them, and hence how both must look to God.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Ini Kopuria, Founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, 1945 If the [Incarnation] happened, it was the central event in the history of the Earth -- the very thing that the whole story has been about. Since it happened only once, it is by Hume's standards infinitely improbable. But then, the whole history of the Earth has also happened only once: is it therefore incredible? Hence the difficulty, which weighs upon Christian and atheist alike, of estimating the probability of the Incarnation. It is like asking whether the existence of nature herself is intrinsically probable. That is why it is easier to argue, on historical grounds, that the Incarnation actually occurred than to show, on philosophical grounds, the probability of its occurrence.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Feast of Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, Teacher, Martyr, c.200 We must never speak to simple, excitable people about "the Day" without emphasizing again and again the utter impossibility of prediction. We must try to show them that that impossibility is an essential part of the doctrine. If you do not believe our Lord's words, why do you believe in His return at all? And if you do believe them, must you not put away from you, utterly and forever, any hope of dating that return?

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Bartolomè de las Casas, Apostle to the Indies, 1566 An essential part of the ordination exam ought to be a passage from some recognized theological work set for translation into vulgar English -- just like doing Latin prose. Failure on this part should mean failure on the whole exam. It is absolutely disgraceful that we expect missionaries to the Bantus to learn Bantu, but never ask whether our missionaries to the Americans or English can speak American or English. Any fool can write learned language: the vernacular is the real test. If you can't turn your faith into it, then either you don't understand it or you don't believe it.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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I will attempt no historical or theological classification of [George] Macdonald's thought, partly because I have not the learning to do so, still more because I am no great friend to such pigeon-holing. One very effective way of silencing the voice of conscience is to impound in an Ism the teacher through whom it speaks; the trumpet no longer seriously disturbs our rest when we have murmured '..Thomist', 'Barthian', or 'Existentialist'. And in Macdonald it is, always the voice of conscience that speaks. He addresses the will: the demand for obedience, for "something to be neither more nor less nor other than done" is incessant. Yet in that very voice of conscience every other faculty somehow speaks as well -- intellect and imagination and humour and fancy and all the affections; and no man in modern times was perhaps more aware of the distinction between Law and Gospel, the inevitable failure of mere morality.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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When we propose to ignore in a great man's teaching those doctrines which it has in common with the thought of his age, we seem to be assuming that the thought of his age was erroneous. When we select for serious consideration those doctrines which "transcend" the thought of his own age and are "for all time", we are assuming that the thought of our age is correct: for of course by thoughts which transcend the great man's age we really mean thoughts that agree with ours. Thus I value Shakespeare's picture of the transformation in old Lear more than I value his views about the divine right of kings, because I agree with Shakespeare that a man can be purified by suffering like Lear, but do not believe that kings (or any other rulers) have divine right in the sense required. When the great man's views do not seem to us erroneous we do not value them the less for having been shared with his contemporaries. Shakespeare's disdain for treachery and Christ's blessing on the poor were not alien to the outlook of their respective periods; but no one wishes to discredit them on that account.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Cecilia, Martyr at Rome, c.230 Commemoration of Clive Staples Lewis, Spiritual Writer, 1963 What we have been told is how we men can be drawn into Christ -- can become part of that wonderful present which the young Prince of the universe wants to offer to His Father -- that present which is Himself and therefore us in Him. It is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are drawn in, a great many other things in Nature will begin to come right. The bad dream will be over: it will be morning.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Richard Rolle of Hampole, Writer, Hermit, Mystic, 1349 I have often, on my knees, been shocked to find what sort of thoughts I have, for a moment, been addressing to God; what infantile placations I was really offering, what claims I have really made, even what absurd adjustments or compromises I was, half-consciously, proposing. There is a Pagan, savage heart in me somewhere. For unfortunately the folly and idiot-cunning of Paganism seem to have far more power of surviving than its innocent or even beautiful elements. It is easy, once you have power, to silence the pipes, still the dances, disfigure the statues, and forget the stories; but not easy to kill the savage, the greedy, frightened creature now cringing, now blustering in one's soul.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Feast of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980 Commemoration of Paul Couturier, Priest, Ecumenist, 1953 Continuing a short series on prayer: Even if all the things that people prayed for happened -- which they do not -- this would not prove what Christians mean by the efficacy of prayer. For prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them. Invariable "success" in prayer would not prove the Christian doctrine at all. It would prove something more like magic -- a power in certain human beings to control, or compel, the course of nature.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Feast of English Saints & Martyrs of the Reformation We must not encourage in ourselves or others any tendency to work up a subjective state which, if we succeeded, we should describe as "faith", with the idea that this will somehow ensure the granting of our prayer. We have probably all done this as children. But the state of mind which desperate desire working on a strong imagination can manufacture is not faith in the Christian sense. It is a feat of psychological gymnastics.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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I have found (to my regret) that the degrees of shame and disgust which I actually feel at my own sins do not at all correspond to what my reason tells me about their comparative gravity. Just as the degree to which, in daily life, I feel the emotion of fear has very little to do with my rational judgment of the danger. I'd sooner have really nasty seas when I'm in an open boat than look down in perfect (actual) safety from the edge of a cliff. Similarly, I have confessed ghastly uncharities with less reluctance than small unmentionables -- or those sins which happen to be ungentlemanly as well as unchristian. Our emotional reactions to our own behaviour are of limited ethical significance.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, 1099 It is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up "our own" when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud, He would hardly have us on such terms.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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We need at times, some of us at most times, that Charity from others which, being Love Himself in them, loves the unlovable. But this, though a sort of love we need, is not the sort we want. We want to be loved for our cleverness, beauty, generosity, fairness, usefulness. The first hint that anyone is offering us the highest love of all is a terrible shock. This is so well recognized that spiteful people will pretend to be loving us with Charity precisely because they know that it will wound us. To say to one who expects a renewal of Affection, Friendship, or Eros, "I forgive you as a Christian" is merely a way of continuing the quarrel. Those who say it are of course lying. But the thing would not be falsely said in order to wound unless, if it were true, it would be wounding.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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It is hard enough, even with the best will in the world, to be just. It is hard, under the pressure of haste, uneasiness, ill-temper, self-complacency, and conceit, to continue intending justice. Power corrupts; the "insolence of office" will creep in. We see it so clearly in our superiors; is it unlikely that our inferiors see it in us? How many of those who have been over us did not sometimes (perhaps often) need our forgiveness? Be sure that we likewise need the forgiveness of those that are under us.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Cecilia, Martyr at Rome, c.230 Commemoration of Clive Staples Lewis, Spiritual Writer, 1963 The word religion is extremely rare in the New Testament and the writings of mystics. The reason is simple. Those attitudes and practices to which we give the collective name of religion are themselves concerned with religion hardly at all. To be religious is to have one's attention fixed on God and on one's neighbour in relation to God. Therefore, almost by definition, a religious man, or a man when he is being religious, is not thinking about religion; he hasn't the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a later moment) call his activity from outside.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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