Friday, November 28, 2014

According to C.S. Lewis

A very dear friend sent me a letter by C.S. Lewis On the Evil of Christian Disunity ... just today and I am struck, yet again, by how God answers my endless questions. As I worshiped Thanksgiving Eve service at church, I began to miss many of my friends who were not there and quite a few questions began to pop into my head: Where were they? Why did I feel sad to be at church? Why did I not feel thankful for the leaders in my church? Was I sinning by not feeling grateful for my church leaders? From the beginning I have been sure about the wrong turn being taken by my church leadership. It is evil to break Christian unity and I am simply not able to be thankful for their efforts to take my church out of the PC(USA). "Schism is a very great evil, " wrote C.S. Lewis, more than 50 years ago, pithily! Reading his letter has also reminded me to be thankful for all the friends who were missing from our Thanksgiving Eve service. Not wanting to cause a schism, many have left quietly, heartsick, and too pained to worship with us anymore. Their faith too has been damaged but some continue to worship elsewhere. The letter reminded me, yet again, to encourage you to join me in prayers for them and for our leadership and to stay in dialog. Let us pray that faith is strengthened despite all the ugliness that is a part of the denominational discernment. Be encouraged by this graphic which shows that the number of churches that have left the PC (USA) are less than the new worshiping communities emerging. Cling to Jesus and above all, be steadfast in prayer for our church leadership, just like Lewis did.

TO FATHER PETER MILWARD, sj: On the evil of Christian disunity; and on prayer and cooperation in works of charity as the means of reunion

6 May 1963

Dear Padre,

You ask me in effect why I am not a Roman Catholic. If it comes to that, why am I not—and why are you not—a Presbyterian, a Quaker, a Mohammedan, a Hindu, or a Confucianist? After how prolonged and sympathetic study and on what grounds have we rejected these religions? I think those who press a man to desert the religion in which he has been bred and in which he believes he has found the means of Grace ought to produce positive reasons for the change—not demand from him reasons against all other religions. It would have to be all, wouldn’t it?

Our Lord prayed that we all might be one ‘as He and His Father are one’ [John 17:21]. But He and His Father are not one in virtue of both accepting a (third) monarchical sovereign. That unity of rule, or even of credenda [things to be believed], does not necessarily produce unity of charity is apparent from the history of every Church, every religious order, and every parish.
Schism is a very great evil. But if reunion is ever to come, it will in my opinion come from increasing charity. And this, under pressure from the increasing strength and hostility of unbelief, is perhaps beginning: we no longer, thank God, speak of one another as we did over 100 years ago. A single act of even such limited co-operation as is now possible does more towards ultimate reunion than any amount of discussion.

The historical causes of the ‘Reformation’ that actually occurred were (1.) The cruelties and commercialism of the Papacy (2.) The lust and greed of Henry VIII. (3.) The exploitation of both by politicians. (4.) The fatal insouciance of the mere rabble on both sides. The spiritual drive behind the Reformation that ought to have occurred was a deep re-experience of the Pauline experience.

Memo: a great many of my closest friends are your co- religionists, some of them priests. If I am to embark on a disputation—which could not be a short one, I would much sooner do it with them than by correspondence. We can do much more to heal the schism by our prayers than by a controversy. It is a daily subject of mine.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III Compiled in Yours, Jack

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. 

Source: (daily email subscription, C.S. Lewis Daily)

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