Tag Archives: purgatory

Roger Olson follows C S Lewis in proposing a “Protestant purgatory” . . . heated discussion ensues


H/t to scientia et sapientia for alerting me to Baylor prof Roger Olson’s suggestion that perhaps Protestants today should take C S Lewis’s cue and consider the possibility of a purgatory-like intermediate state between death and heaven. You’ll see a variety of responses, some quite heated, at Roger’s blog. Also, scientia links a thoughtful critical response from Dallas Seminary grad and theological educator Michael Patton.

Roger’s proposal emerges from his understanding that there are “saints” in the history of Christianity–he singles out Augustine and Calvin, among others–who did terrible, hate-filled things. Do those people (or anyone else with such extreme “baggage”) get to leap straight from their deathbeds to the presence of the Holy God? Here are a few brief excerpts from Roger’s reflection: Continue reading

C S Lewis’s spiritual formation: confession, purgatory, Mary, and other Catholic dimensions


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I’ve long thought Protestantism has been hasty (as Luther himself was not) to eliminate the practice of confession to a priest–among other Roman Catholic (or the larger category: “catholic”) practices and beliefs. Once one clears away the typical Protestant misunderstandings (that the priest is a mediator who somehow offers absolution by his own authority, that he imposes penances as a way to “earn salvation,” etc.), this seems to me a healthy Christian discipline. Particularly it seems it would be helpful if the person to which one confessed were also one’s spiritual director, in the old tradition.

What follows are some notes taken at the Marion Wade Center, from a couple of sources by Lyle Dorsett. The first is an article peering into C S Lewis’s own practice of confession. The second is a group of excerpts from Dorsett’s book on Lewis’s spiritual development, and talks again about Lewis’s practice of confession, then also about his views on purgatory, Mary, and the Protestant-Roman Catholic divide.

Summarizing: Lewis shared some broadly “catholic” beliefs and practices with both the Roman Catholics and the Anglo-Catholics within his own Church. But he was far from teetering on the edge of conversion to Roman Catholicism, as Joseph Pearce has incorrectly (in my opinion) argued. Nonetheless, Lewis makes a good study in appropriating long-standing catholic practices while remaining Protestant in conviction and worship:

[Note: as you’ll see, my inclusion of Mary in the title of this blog post is a bit of a red herring: Lewis was averse to Marian devotion.]

Dorsett, Lyle W. “C.S. Lewis and the Cowley Fathers.” Cowley 32 n.1 (Winter 2006): cover, 11-12.

In this article Dorsett writes especially about CSL’s Anglo-Catholic confessor and “director,” Father Walter Adams. Lewis began to see Adams in late October 1940, saying after his first confession to Father Adams “that the experience was like a tonic to his soul.” (11) Continue reading

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years


Here is a review of the new Diarmaid MacCulloch book, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (MacCulloch previously published an accessible survey of the Reformation period). The provocative title refers both to the future of the faith, and to the presence of certain proto-Christian ideas before Jesus.

A couple of clips from the review, which appears on the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s website, and is written by Margaret McGuiness, chair of the Religion Department at La Salle University:

No text purporting to trace the rise and development of a major world religion can do it all, and Christianity is no exception. MacCulloch does at least touch on many important representatives of events, movements, and doctrinal developments. Topics as diverse as the teaching on Purgatory, Eucharistic doctrine, and evangelicalism are explained and placed within the context of major events such as the Reformations (Protestant and Catholic), the Enlightenment, and the culture wars of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In addition, the author attempts to incorporate the role of Christian women into the larger history, and includes figures as diverse as the mystic Teresa of Avila; Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline nuns, the first active women’s religious community; and English Protestant feminist Mary Astell.