So it turns out I may have been unfair to ol’ Clive Staples in my universalism paper. I just finished The Great Divorce – quite a wonderful little book, an easy afternoon read (I recommend by the pool, tho sober, for it is quite advanced prose) – and towards the end he seems to have changed his mind about universalism. Or at least, he admits that Paul was a universalist (and George MacDonald, which if you know Lewis’s story, you know that’s an important influence). In the end he seems to say that one cannot say for sure either way, but that from the vantage point of humanity (in Time), we could not understand universalism fully. But he seems to want to say that it will be so in the end, which would put him in the optimistic camp. His caveat is that humans, in Time, cannot release the idea of our Freedom. Yet once we are out of our body and the timeline of history, we will perhaps have a different perspective on Freedom, and in fact see the possibility of universalism as not conflicting with our personality at all. This is not possible while stuck in human form.
Hmmmm….he’s sounding a bit Gnostic, isn’t he? And in fact, he’s quite Platonic, in that he writes about our Immortal Souls standing around watching our human selves act out our lives in time. Yes, Lewis was extremely smart and a wonderful writer, but I can’t go with these notions. I’m pretty much an open theist, and I do believe God is in time, and I don’t believe the Bible supports an immortal soul for all (immortality is a gift from God, not an inborn quality). So I depart from Lewis on several points.
But I did want to say (and I wish I’d been able to include this in the paper) that Lewis seems to have tempered his ideas from The Problem of Pain in his later years (it was published 6 years prior to Divorce), and seems to be saying that universalism is a possibility, just not one that we can comprehend in our current state (or at least he couldn't comprehend it).
One other thing - keep a lookout for Mel White, on a book tour coming to a town near you. He's in LA Sept 18. Since I didn't make the Equality Ride events (or rather was barred from attending them), I plan to try to get to this.
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I think some of the speculation in Perelandra could also point in a universalist direction. May be misremembering.
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