John Zmirak Has a Beef With CS Lewis

Lewis Quote


It is your duty to to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men. There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of the other.

CS Lewis, Easter 1945






At The Stream John Zmirak has a complaint lodged against CS Lewis:


I have a bone to pick with C.S. Lewis. Yes, of course the man was a fine writer and his work has taught countless readers how to love God better. But as an author, he proved a little careless in completing his novels. Instead of sealing them up tight when he was finished with them so we could safely enjoy them without side-effects, Lewis apparently left the bolts unscrewed, and now the characters are escaping into the real world.

I am sure Lewis never intended this, but it is happening, and something must be done, if only to avoid poisoning interfaith relations. I’m not speaking of The Screwtape Letters; the devils we have had always with us. No, I’m talking about the third book in his space trilogy, That Hideous Strength.

Reverend Straik

The first escapee was Lewis’s liberation theologian, Reverend Straik — whom readers will recall for his stark, this-worldly, radical creed. Straik denounced the historic, really-existing Christian church as the subterfuge by which the World, the organization and body of Death, has sidetracked and emasculated the teaching of Jesus, and turned into priestcraft and mysticism the plain demand of the Lord for righteousness and judgment here and now.

The Kingdom of God is to be realized here — in this world. And it will be. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. In that name I dissociate myself completely from all the organized religion that has yet been seen in the world.

It is the saints who are going to inherit the earth — here in England, perhaps in the next twelve months — the saints and no one else. Know you not that we shall judge angels? . . . The real resurrection is even now taking place. The real life everlasting. Here in this world. You will see it.

I was sobered to learn that Reverend Straik had eluded Lewis’s safeguards, slipped into the real world, and taken up residence in Honduras, under the nom de guerre “Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.” In his prominent role as one of nine cardinals chosen to reform the Catholic church, Maradiaga has been increasingly outspoken about the need to reject that Church’s historical legacy and start again from scratch. As he said in a famous address in Dallas: “With the New Evangelization we restart (start anew) from the beginning: we once more become the Church as proclaimer, servant, and Samaritan.”

Go here to  read the rest.  Alas, Screwtape could have predicted this:

The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner.


More to explorer


  1. Might just as well rebuke Fyodor Dostoevsky for thinking Cardinals would rather be Grand Inquisitors.

  2. The good cardinal is a charlatan. At least he could focus on his little corner of the world instead of bringing his brand of corruption to the rest of us.

  3. “… But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We
    never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of
    is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them.”

    A friend of mine is the nephew of a certain Episcopalian bishop famous for both his love
    of the camera and microphone and for his disdain for what C. S. Lewis would describe
    as “mere Christianity”. Instead, his version of Episcopalianism seems to built from
    planks taken from the Democrats’ party platform, even to the removal of the idea of a God.
    Since he assumes his nephew is a fellow-traveller (never bothering to ask otherwise), the
    bishop has made some very frank admissions in his nephew’s presence– that all faiths,
    Christianity especially, are ridiculous, and that only simpletons actually believe “all that
    I have no idea when the bishop lost his faith, or how he developed such contempt for
    those who still have theirs. He seems to believe that he should remain where he is–
    with his very comfortable, secure livelihood and the attention and marks of respect it
    brings– because he is doing important work, tearing down an old church so a new,
    improved one may rise in its place. His flock, inasmuch as they persisted in clinging
    to their orthodoxy, were an impediment to his real calling.
    He and his sort are out there, and I suspect they aren’t as rare as we’d hope.

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