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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

C. S. Lewis Centennial Holding [the Way of Affirmation], we see that every created thing is, in its degree, an image of God, and the ordinate and faithful appreciation of that thing a clue, which, truly followed, will lead back to Him. Holding [the Way of Rejection], we see that every created thing, the highest devotion to moral duty, the purest conjugal love, the saint and the seraph, is no more than an image; that every one of them, followed for its own sake and isolated from its source, becomes an idol whose service is damnation.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Feast of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170 A Christian and an unbelieving poet may both be equally original and draw on resources peculiar to themselves, but with this difference. The unbeliever may take his own temperament and experience, just as they happen to stand, and consider them worth communicating simply because they are his. To the Christian his own temperament and experience, as mere fact, and as merely his, are of no value or importance whatsoever: he will deal with them, if at all, only because they are the medium through which, or the position from which, something universally profitable appeared to him.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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If we once accept the doctrine of the Incarnation, we must surely be very cautious in suggesting that any circumstance in the culture of first-century Palestine was a hampering or distorting influence upon His teaching. Do we suppose that the scene of God's earthly life was selected at random? -- that some other scene would have served better?

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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The rejection as unhistorical of all passages which narrate miracles is sensible if we start by knowing that the miraculous... never occurs. Now, I do not want here to discuss whether the miraculous is possible: I only want to point out that this is a purely philosophical question. Scholars, as scholars, speak on it with no more authority than anyone else. The canon, "If miraculous, unhistorical", is one they bring to their study of the texts, not one they have learned from it. If one is speaking of authority, the united authority of all the Biblical critics in the world counts for nothing. On this they speak simply as men -- men obviously influenced by, and perhaps insufficiently critical of, the spirit of the age they grew up in.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Men say, "How are we to act, what are we to teach our children, now that we are no longer Christians?" You see, gentlemen, how I would answer that question. You are deceived in thinking that the morality of your father was based on Christianity. On the contrary, Christianity presupposed it. That morality stands exactly where it did; its basis has not been withdrawn, for, in a sense, it never had a basis. The ultimate ethical injunctions have always been premises, never conclusions. Kant was perfectly right on that point at least, the imperative is categorical. Unless the ethical is assumed from the outset, no argument will bring you to it.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Charles Williams, Spiritual Writer, 1945 It may be possible for each of us to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden, of my neighbour's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship --or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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My own idea, for what it is worth, is that all sadness which is not now either arising from the repentance of a concrete sin and hastening towards concrete amendment or restitution, or else arising from pity and hastening towards active assistance, is simply bad.

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 I too had noticed that our prayers for others flow more easily than those we offer on our own behalf. And it would be nice to accept your view that this just shows we are made to live by charity. I'm afraid, however, I detect two much less attractive reasons for the ease of my own intercessory prayers. One is that I am often, I believe, praying for others when I should be doing things for them. It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see him. And the other is like unto it. Suppose I pray that you may be given grace to withstand your besetting sin (short list of candidates for this post will be forwarded on demand). Well, all the work has to be done by God and you. If I pray against my own besetting sin there will be work for me. One sometimes fights shy of admitting an act to be a sin for this very reason.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Continuing a Lenten series on prayer: I have called my material surroundings a stage set. In this I can act. And you may well say "act". For what I call "myself" (for all practical, everyday purposes) is also a dramatic construction; memories, glimpses in the shavinglass, and snatches of the very fallible activity called "introspection", are the principal ingredients. Normally I call this construction "me"' and the stage set "the real world". Now the moment of prayer is for me -- or involves for me as its condition -- the awareness, the reawakened awareness, that this "real world" and "real self" are very far from being rock-bottom realities. I cannot, in the flesh, leave the stage, either to go behind the scenes or to take my seat in the pit; but I can remember that these regions exist. And I also remember that my apparent self -- this clown or hero or super -- under his grease-paint is a real person with an off-stage life. The dramatic person could not tread the stage unless he concealed a real person: unless the real and unknown I existed, I would not even make mistakes about the imagined me. And in prayer this real I struggles to speak, for once, from his real being, and to address, for once, not the other actors, but -- what shall I call Him? The Author, for He invented us all? The Producer, for He controls all? Or the Audience, for He watches, and will judge, the performance?

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Easter Feast of George, Martyr, Patron of England, c.304 Commemoration of Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, Teacher, 1988 I greet Thy sepulchre, salute Thy grave, That blest enclosure, where the angels gave The first glad tidings of Thy early light, And resurrection from the earth and night. I see that morning in Thy convert's tears, Fresh as the dew, which but this downing wears. I smell her spices; and her ointment yields As rich a scent as the now primrosed fields: The Day-star smiles, and light, with Thee deceased, Now shines in all the chambers of the East. ... Henry Vaughan April 24, 2000 Commemoration of Mellitus, First Bishop of London, 624 The [Christian] "doctrines" are translations into our concepts and ideas of that which God has already expressed in language more adequate, namely the actual incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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As sure as ever God puts his children in the furnace, he will be in the furnace with them. ... Charles Haddon Spurgeon August 4, 2000 Feast of John Vianney, Curè d'Ars, 1859 Prayer is not a way of making use of God; prayer is a way of offering ourselves to God in order that He should be able to make use of us. It may be that one of our great faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. When prayer is at its highest we wait in silence for God's voice to us; we linger in His presence for His peace and His power to flow over us and around us; we lean back in His everlasting arms and feel the serenity of perfect security in Him. ... William Barclay, The Plain Man's Book of Prayers, Introduction August 5, 2000 Feast of Oswald, King of Northumbria, Martyr, 642 Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Feast of John Vianney, Curè d'Ars, 1859 I am, indeed, far from agreeing with those who think all religious fear barbarous and degrading and demand that it should be banished from the spiritual life. Perfect love, we know, casteth out fear. But so do several other things--ignorance, alcohol, passion presumption, and stupidity. It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Those who talk of reading the Bible "as literature" sometimes mean, I think, reading it without attending to the main thing it is about; like reading Burke with no interest in politics, or reading the Aeneid with no interest in Rome... But there is a saner sense in which the Bible -- since it is, after all, literature -- cannot properly be read except as literature, and the different parts of it as the different sorts of literature they are. Most emphatically, the Psalms must be read as poems -- as lyrics, with all the licenses and all the formalities, the hyperboles, the emotional rather than logical connections, which are proper to lyric poetry... Otherwise we shall miss what is in them and think we see what is not.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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One mustn't make the Christian life into a punctilious system of law, like the Jewish, for two reasons. (1) It raises scruples when we don't keep the routine. (2) It raises presumption when we do. Nothing gives one a more spuriously good conscience than keeping rules, even if there has been a total absence of all real charity and faith.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Commemoration of Richard Meux Benson, Founder of the Society of St John the Evangelist, 1915 In the long run, the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is... a question: "What are you asking God to do?" To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that that is what He does.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning Heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about "pie in the sky", and of being told that we are trying to "escape" from the duty of making a happy world here and now, into dreams of a better world elsewhere. But either there is "pie in the sky" or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this doctrine, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no.

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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Feast of Catherine of Siena, Mystic, Teacher, 1380 Can we believe that God ever modifies His action in response to the suggestions of man? For infinite wisdom does not need telling what is best, and infinite goodness needs no urging to do it. But neither does God need any of those things that are done by finite agents, whether living or inanimate. He could, if He chose, repair our bodies miraculously without food; or give us food without the aid of farmers, bakers, and butchers; or knowledge without the aid of learned men; or convert the heathen without missionaries. Instead, He allows soils and weather and animals and the muscles, minds, and wills of men to cooperate in the execution of His will. "God", says Pascal, "instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality." But it is not only prayer; whenever we act at all, He lends us that dignity. It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist The Present is the point at which Time touches Eternity. Of the present moment -- and of it only -- humans have an experience analogous to the experience which God has of reality as a whole; in it alone, freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with Eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present -- either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself; or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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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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Feast of Edward the Confessor, 1066 The very activities for which we were created are, while we live on earth, variously impeded: by evil in ourselves or in others. Not to practice them is to abandon our humanity. To practice them spontaneously and delightfully is not yet possible. This situation creates the category of duty, the whole specifically moral realm. It exists to be transcended. Here is the paradox of Christianity. As practical imperatives for here and now, the two great commandments have to be translated "Behave as if you loved God and man". For no man can love because he is told to. Yet obedience on this practical level is not really obedience at all. And if a man really loved God and man, once again this would hardly be obedience; for if he did, he would be unable to help it. Thus the command really says to us, "Ye must be born again". Till then, we have duty, morality, the Law. A schoolmaster, as St. Paul says, is to bring us to Christ. We must expect no more of it than of a schoolmaster; we must allow it no less.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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The vice I am talking about is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea-bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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A man's physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man's hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating, and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same way, though I do not believe (I wish I did) that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will. A man may love a women and not win her; but it would be very odd if the phenomenon called "falling in love" occurred in a sexless world.

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 Thanksgiving (U.S.) One man may be so placed that his anger sheds the blood of thousands, and another so placed that, however angry he gets, he will only be laughed at. But the little mark on the soul may be much the same in both. Each has done something to himself which, unless he repents, will make it harder for him to keep out of the rage the next time he is tempted, and will make the rage worse when he does fall into it. Each of them, if he seriously turns to God, can have that twist in the central man straightened out again: each is, in the long run, doomed if he will not.

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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Feast of Mary, Martha & Lazarus, Companions of Our Lord The practical problem of Christian politics is not that of drawing up schemes for a Christian society, but that of living as innocently as we can with unbelieving fellow-subjects under unbelieving rulers who will never be perfectly wise and good and who will sometimes be very wicked and very foolish. And when they are wicked, the Humanitarian theory of punishment will put in their hands a finer instrument of tyranny than wickedness ever had before. For if crime and disease are to be regarded as the same thing, it follows that any state of mind which our masters choose to call 'disease' can be treated as crime, and compulsorily cured. It will be vain to plead that states of mind which displease the government need not always involve moral turpitude and do not therefore always deserve forfeiture of liberty. For our masters will not be using the concepts of Desert and Punishment but those of disease and cure. (Continued tomorrow).

Christianity Quotes, by C. S. Lewis

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