My Journey through The Great Divorce

One of the most beloved Christian intellectuals of the modern era was surely Clive Staples (C. S.) Lewis. During WWII, his radio lectures that became Mere Christianity brought considerable hope to a despairing world. His literary works in fantasy, notably The Chronicles of Narnia and the “Space Trilogy” that begins with Out of the Silent Planet, are considered by many to be both meaningful achievements and lovely tales.

C. S. Lewis was also a prominent philosopher of the role of human free will in regards to God’s salvific power (for lack of a better term). Lewis would perhaps say that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God except for our own unbelief. For Lewis, we can separate ourselves from the love of God.

The Great Divorce

Since I currently believe in christological universal salvation, I’ve decided to read The Great Divorce. (Fortunately, it is available at my current institutions library.) Jerry L. Walls, an American philosopher who wrote a notable trilogy concerning about heaven, hell, and purgatory that is quite influential. Walls believes that hell will be freely chosen by some persons for all of eternity, and attributes his belief in the plausibility–even probability–of a hell that is purely self-chosen to C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce.

Now that I am about twenty-six pages into the approximately one hundred and forty page novella, I can see why.

Can God lead a horse to water and make it drink?

Can God lead a horse to water and make it drink?

The Great Divorce sketches the post-mortem state as a divided reality. It is those who are redeemed by Christ who are real, and those who reject grace–which even in Lewis’s hell is available to them on an ontological level should they ask–are mere ghastly shadows. As Jerry Walls suggested, the book is indeed convincing.

I wonder if the whole book itself–I must finish it first, of course–is Lewis’s answer to the question: Can God lead a horse to water and make it drink? Perhaps for Lewis, there is a kind of self-chosen point of no return from which even Christ Himself cannot reach the damned. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37 KJV).

Is this what Lewis believed? Is this what The Great Divorce is all about? Is it an ode to the cosmic rejection of Christ by the damned, the reaction of all hell to the living water should it come as even a torrential rain or a monstrous typhoon?


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