“Ticket to heaven”: C. S. Lewis’s debt to the Theologia Germanica on self-will, death, and heaven


As I have for the past several years, I had the wonderful opportunity again this year to attend the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The event happened a couple of weeks ago, and again I was able to participate in a wonderful session on the works of a famous medievalist whom almost nobody thinks about as a medievalist: C. S. Lewis. In fact this year, the intrepid Joe Ricke of Taylor University crafted, and Crystal Kirgiss’s Purdue C S Lewis Society co-sponsored, an entire track of three sessions on “Lewis and the ‘Last Things.'”

My paper was (perhaps nominally) on the topic of heaven, as well as on death. Here it is, with work yet to be done on it before it finds published form, much-modified, in my upcoming book Getting Medieval with C S Lewis. 

(This is copyright 2013 by me, Chris R. Armstrong, and posted here with the understanding that those reading it will not cite or quote it without express permission from the author.)

Chris Armstrong, International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI  May 2013 

“Ticket to heaven”: Lewis’s debt to the Theologia Germanica on self-will, death, and heaven

[This paper could perhaps more accurately have been titled: “For and against self-abandonment: C S Lewis’s uneasy relationship with the Pseudo-Dionysian teachings of the Theologia Germanica”]

C S Lewis was in a state of heightened awareness of his mortality when he sat down on Sept. 12th, 1938 to write to his friend Owen Barfield with the storm clouds of war gathering overhead. “My dear Barfield,” he wrote,

“What awful quantities of this sort of thing seem necessary to break us in, or, more correctly, to break us off. One thinks one has made some progress towards detachment . . . and begin[s] to realize, and to acquiesce in, the rightly precarious hold we have on all our natural loves, interests, and comforts: then when they are really shaken, at the very first breath of that wind, it turns out to have been all a sham, a field-day, blank cartridges.” (231)

He continues:

“This is how I was thinking that night, about the war danger. I had so often told myself that my friends and books and even brains were [232] not given me to keep: that I must teach myself at bottom to care for something else more . . . and I was horrified to find how cold the idea of really losing them struck. An awful symptom is that part of oneself still regards troubles as ‘interruptions’ as if (ludicrous idea) the happy bustle of one[’]s personal interests was our real [task or work],[1] instead of the opposite.” (231-2)

“I did in the end see . . . that since nothing but these forcible shakings will cure us of our worldliness, we have at bottom reason to be thankful for them. We force God to surgical treatment: we won’t (mentally) diet.”

In other words, God forces “troubles” on us because otherwise we will refuse to abandon our selfish interests—which we need to do, for our own good. Apart from the impending war, what has caused these reflections in Lewis? He continues:

“I have a lot more to say on this (I’ve just read the Theologia Germanica) when we meet. That is, if we meet, for of course our whole joint world may be blown up before the end of the week.”

“I’ve just read the Theologia Germanica,” he says. The Theologia is an anonymous fourteenth-century German spiritual treatise counseling renunciation of self as the way to union with God. Martin Luther had been deeply influenced by it, and had published a text of it in 1518. Recently I spent some quality time going through Lewis’s translated copy of it, reviewing his copious underlinings, marginal linings, and notes in the endpapers. At the same time, I began working through his corpus, looking not only for explicit references to the Theologia, but also for thematic references to the Theologia’s most characteristic emphasis: self-renunciation, the abandonment of self.

The most striking of these is a statement Lewis makes in The Problem of Pain. He says, quote:

“We need not suppose that the necessity for something analogous to self-conquest will ever be ended, or that eternal life will not also be eternal dying. It is in this sense that, as there may be pleasures in hell (god shield us from them), there may be something not at all unlike pains in heaven (God grant us soon to taste them).”

What Lewis is asserting here is that self-denial, self-abandonment, is so crucial to the union with God that all Christians seek, that we must continue to experience a kind of painful self-death in heaven! This is not purgatory he’s talking about here. It is heaven!

It is clear that Lewis got this idea from his reading of the Theologia. First, as we will see, just a few words after the quoted passage, Lewis concludes his point by quoting from the Theologia, which he had read just two years before Problem of Pain was published in 1940. Second, compare the quotation we just heard from the Problem of Pain to the following quotation Lewis marked in his copy of the Theologia [boldface = CSL’s underlining, italic his marginal lining]:

“Were there no self-will, there would be also no ownership. In heaven there is no ownership; hence there are found content, true peace, and all blessedness. [and here Lewis underlines:] If any one there took upon him to call anything his own, he would straightway be thrust out into hell, and would become an evil spirit. But in hell every one will have self-will, therefore there is all manner of misery and wretchedness. [and what follows Lewis also highlights:] So it is also here on earth. But if there were one in hell who should get quit of his self-will and call nothing his own, he would come out of hell into heaven.

So here is that insistence that we must abrogate earthly desires to reach heavenly ones—must indeed empty ourselves of our very Selves in order to be filled with God.

To see how Lewis absorbs this theme and how it informs his understanding that we will experience pain in heaven, let’s now look at that whole passage in The Problem of Pain, in the chapter titled simply “Heaven.” Here it is:

“But the eternal distinctness of each soul–the secret which makes of the union btwn each soul and God a species in itself–will never abrogate the law that forbids ownership in heaven. . . . we must remember that the soul is but a hollow which God fills. Its union with God is, almost by definition, a continual self-abandonment–an opening, an unveiling, a surrender, of itself. . . . We need not suppose that the necessity for something analogous to self-conquest will ever be ended, or that eternal life will not also be eternal dying.” And so forth, on the pleasures in hell and pains in heaven. Then he continues:

“For in self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm not only of all creation but of all being. For the Eternal Word also gives Himself in sacrifice; and that not only on Calvary. From before the foundation of the world He surrenders begotten Deity back to begetting Deity in obedience. . . .” Lewis then caps this reflection with a quotation from the Theologia, as he says, “I think it was truly said ‘God loveth not Himself as Himself but as Goodness; and if there were aught better than God, He would love that and not Himself’.”[2]

Now, you may wonder, as you come to this statement from the Theologia about God loving himself as goodness, what on earth this has to do with the theme of obedient self-emptying that he has just been discussing. I certainly did!

Bernard McGinn shows us that Dionysius—the spiritual fountainhead for the Theologia—says the most important name for God is “Good,” and that, further, “goodness” is by definition self-giving. Everything in the world is made good, and all the goodness of Creation contains within itself a yearning, an eros, for the perfect goodness that is found only in God. But this is not just the yearning of Creation for God, it is also, and in fact it is first, the yearning of God for Creation.

As McGinn says, Dionysius “insist[ed] that divine Eros must be ecstatic, or outside itself: [Quoting the Divine Names:] ‘It must be said that the very cause of the universe in the beautiful, good superabundance of [God’s] benign yearning for all is carried out of himself in the loving care he has for everything. He is, as it were, beguiled by goodness, by love and by yearning and is enticed away from his dwelling place and comes to abide with all things, and he does so by virtue of his supernatural and ecstatic capacity to remain, nevertheless, within himself.’ (DN 4.13).”[3]

So when Lewis says “From before the foundation of the world [God] surrenders begotten Deity back to begetting Deity in obedience,” he is making a Dionysian statement. But it is precisely this Dionysian strain in his thought—this insistence that God presents self-abandonment to us as a pattern and indeed a duty, that will throw him into an unresolved tension between affirming a positive role for desire and insisting that we practice self-abandonment. I would argue that these two are not well-integrated in Dionysius, or at least in the late medieval form of Dionysianism we find in the Theologia. And they are also not well-integrated in Lewis.

Of course, Dionysius shows us in the passage just quoted how desire and self-abandonment are perfectly integrated in God (he is able to ecstatically go out into the world without “losing himself,” because he is perfectly stable in himself). The author of the Theologia picks this up in another passage that Lewis marks, where he describes Christ as being able at all times to keep one eye on “nature” and the other on God. But then he turns and says that we humans cannot do the same: we must “shut the eye of nature”—of our natural desires—if we are to open the spiritual eye that sees God. And this in fact explains why we must completely deny ourselves—our desires—if we are to come to God and achieve union.

[NOT READ, but useful:] Here is that passage, in chapter 7 of the Theologia—somewhat abridged to get to the point:

“Let us remember how it is written and said that the soul of Christ had two eyes, a right and a left eye. In the beginning, when the soul of Christ was created, she fixed her right eye upon eternity and the Godhead, and remained in the full intuition and enjoyment of the divine Essence and Eternal Perfection . . . But with the left eye she beheld the creature and perceived all things therein . . .”

“Thus the inner man of Christ, according to the right eye of His soul, stood in the full exercise of His divine nature, in perfect blessedness, joy and eternal peace. But the outward man and the left eye of Christ’s soul, stood with Him in perfect suffering, in all tribulation, affliction and travail; and this in such sort that the inward and right eye remained unmoved, unhindered and untouched by all the travail, suffering, grief and anguish that ever befell the outward man. . . . In like manner His outward man, or soul with the left eye, was never hindered, disturbed or troubled by the inward eye in its contemplation of the outward things that belonged to it.”

The author then observes that humans, too, have two eyes: “The one is the power of seeing into eternity, the other of seeing into time and the creatures, of perceiving how they differ from each other as aforesaid, of giving life and needful things to the body, and ordering and governing it for the best. But these two eyes of the soul of man cannot both perform their work at once; but if the soul shall see with the right eye into eternity, then the left eye must close itself and refrain from working, and be as though it were dead. [23] For if the left eye be fulfilling its office toward outward things; that is, holding converse with time and the creatures; then must the right eye be hindered in its working; that is, in its contemplation. Therefore whosoever will have the one must let the other go; for ‘no man can serve two masters.’” (22-23)

[NOT READ at conference—inserted afterward to show the connection between this theme and Christian asceticism:

[Here we find a too-strict division between the active life and the contemplative life: the “secular” life of “giving life and needful things to the body” and the contemplative life that “sees into eternity.” This is a Platonic, then Neoplatonic, then Christian ascetic insistence that we cannot “serve two masters”: that we must get beyond the things of the world, abandon certain material needs of the self, if we are to get to God via contemplation (prayer). Note that although this was a common view in early Christian asceticism, it was not a universal view. One of the most prominent church fathers who wrote against this view—and probably the most-read father in the entire medieval monastic tradition—was Gregory the Great. Gregory taught that the active life can feed, improve, and complete the contemplative life. In his better moments, so did Lewis. Lewis himself perceived the call to Christianity as being something of a call to monasticism, as in the humorous letter he sent to Barfield on the very eve of his conversion, saying “Terrible things are happening to me. The “Spirit” or “Real I” [note the similarity to the ascetical language of the Theologia Germanica] is showing an alarming tendency to become much more personal and is taking the offensive, and behaving just like God. You’d better come on Monday at the latest or I may have entered a monastery.” Though of course he never did this, Lewis the Christian always shared intuitively the ascetic vision of the monastic—as he did so much else from medieval faith. He regularly practiced such ascetic disciplines as fasting, meditation, and frequent prayer (see, for example, in For All the Saints, Wallace A. C. Williams, “C. S. Lewis: Spiritual disciplines for mere Christians”).

But it is not clear, I will argue, that Lewis ever quite integrated this ascetic awareness with his positive understanding of the Affirmative Way: the ways in which our earthly desires and activities can in fact, rather than leading us away from God or closing our “spiritual eye” to him, instead sacramentally lead us directly to God (Christ having provided the way to this integration through his own integration, in his Incarnation, of the human and the divine life). Nonetheless, Lewis did react against this harsh dichotomy when he found it in the Theologia, as well as when he found it in the 20th-century thinker Anders Nygren, with his too-categorical insistence that agape and eros cannot coexist in us, and only agape is godly and good (as I show in a section deleted from the speaking draft of this essay).]

[To see Lewis interact with this dichotomy in the Theologia, we turn to the single, terse critical annotation he made in the margin when he came across this passage in the Theologia that insisted that Christians cannot operate with “both eyes open”—the natural and the spiritual. He wrote: “In other words we must be essentially unlike the Lord?”

Again, it makes sense that Lewis would push back in this way against this disjunctive facet of Neoplatonic mysticism. After all, he very famously taught that our natural desires—our yearning that is triggered by our experiences of what is good and beautiful in the world—in fact can lead us toward God. Indeed he insisted that he himself had come to God in this way, so that he called himself an “empirical theist.”[4] [ADDED: This is the stream in Lewis that stands so diametrically opposite to the stern Neoplatonic ascetic stream with its insistence that everything about the natural life leads us away from God, and that therefore we must abrogate our natural, sensing self.]

[IN THE MANUSCRIPT BUT NOT READ:] Let’s linger on this point for a moment. Lewis had said in a letter to his brother Warren that “the ‘vague something’ which has been suggested to one’s mind as desirable, all one’s life, in experience of nature and music and poetry . . . and which rouses desires that no finite object pretends to satisfy, can be argued not to be any product of our own minds.”[5] Our sensing self, interacting with the world through not only perception but also desire, leads us toward something real and objective beyond our subjectivity: it leads us toward God. [ADDED: It does not hinder us from God, as Plato, the Neoplatonists, and Dionysius had taught. It can lead us to God, albeit sometimes by negative example and by suffering—by the sinfulness in ourselves that we stumble across as soon as we engage fully in that natural mode and world—as Gregory the Great had taught.

SUMMARIZED THE FOLLOWING: Now let’s see this principle at work concretely in Lewis’s biography. Lewis relished what he once called the “quiddity” of things. From his first Oxford friend, A. K. Hamilton Jenkin, he got, as he put it, an “education as a seeing, listening, smelling, receptive creature.” Walking about with Jenkin, he learned “in a squalid town to seek out those very places where its squalor rose to grimness and almost grandeur, on a dismal day to find the most dismal and dripping wood, on a windy day to seek the windiest ridge,” and so “rub one’s nose in the very quiddity of each thing, to rejoice in its being (so magnificently) what it was.” (199)

This is the attitude of a man traveling the Affirmative Way to God, sensing what is best in the Goodness of things. He kept this attitude until the end of his life. In 1962, in a letter to “the American lady,” he mused wryly that his body had now become like an old car, in which “all sorts of apparently different things keep going wrong.” “I have a kindly feeling,” he continued, “for the old rattle-trap. Through it God showed me that whole side of His beauty which is embodied in colour, sound, smell and size.”

In other words, Lewis values his sensory experiences as having led him to a vision of God’s own beauty. This certainly sounds very much like the cataphatic, Affirmative, positive side of the Dionysian vision. And to espouse this Affirmative Way, a person would certainly need to have some sense of the value, not only of the beauty in the world, but of the “self” who perceives this beauty.

This cataphatic understanding takes its most exalted form in Lewis’s portrayal, in That Hideous Strength, of how a sanctified sexuality can play a role in bringing us to wholeness. In that book’s culmination, in a thoroughly Williamsesque and indeed Beatrician way, Lewis shows us Mark Studdock returning to spiritual health and integrity as he joins with Jane in the marital bed, under the joyous superintending of Venus come down from the heavens.

This is eros in its most potent form, and would certainly seem a vote for continuity between nature and grace. Then there is the sermon titled “Transposition.” The burden of that sermon is that in fact only our natural experiences can lead us to God, for we have no other mode or vocabulary with which to understand him. Humans vis-à-vis divinity are like “flatlanders”—people living in a wholly two-dimensional world—straining to relate to the three-dimensional world. It is finally only our prosaic experiences in our “flat,” merely “natural” world, and the words and concepts we form to describe that world, which lead us upward, breaking us through our limitations and showing us—in a dim and imperfect way—that other divine world for which we have yearned all along.

So, being perceptive about the natural world—keeping that “natural eye” open—was for Lewis an essential part of the way to God. And yet, against this Affirmative Way and its positive role for desire stands this other thread in Lewis’s thinking, which finds self-will to be almost literally hell, and which requires mortification—the emptying of the self—before union—the filling of the self with God.

His most sustained non-fiction reflection on this theme appears in the chapter on “human pain” in The Problem of Pain. And it is full of parallels to the Theologia.

He begins with the assertion, “Now the proper good of a creature is to surrender itself to its Creator.” And he explains that by doing this, we imitate God, because “God Himself, as Son, from all eternity renders back to God as Father by filial obedience the being which the Father by paternal love eternally generates in the Son. This is the pattern which man was made to imitate–which Paradisal man did imitate–and wherever the will conferred by the Creator is thus perfectly offered back in delighted and delighting obedience by the creature, there, most undoubtedly, is Heaven, and there the Holy Ghost proceeds.”

Heaven, in other words, is at least in this context a state of mind—a state achieved through self-surrender. As the Theologia puts it, we have to go through the hell of self-denial before we can reach the heaven of union:

“When a man truly perceiveth and considereth himself, who and what he is, and findeth himself utterly vile and wicked, and unworthy of all the comfort and kindness that he hath ever received . . . [t]his is what is meant by true repentance for sin.” (35-37) “And he who in this present time entereth into this hell, entereth afterward into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Now continuing with Lewis from the Problem of Pain: “In the world as we now know it, the problem is how to recover this self-surrender.” But, he says, this is no straightforward matter, for, “to render back the will which we have so long claimed for our [603] own, is in itself, wherever and however it is done, a grievous pain.” Indeed, he says “to surrender a self-will inflamed and swollen with years of usurpation is a kind of death. We all remember this self-will as it was in childhood: the bitter, prolonged rage at every thwarting, the burst of passionate tears, the black, Satanic wish to kill or die rather than to give in,” and so forth. That selfishness of the nursery sticks with us as adults, though it is better hidden, and it is no easy matter to deal with it. “That this process cannot be without pain is sufficiently witnessed[, says Lewis,] by the very history of the word ‘Mortification’.”[6]

This process of self-surrender is, in other words, a kind of death, or even, as the Theologia puts it, a personal “hell.” And importantly, in this book about pain, Lewis argues that the pain of that hell in which we are forced to surrender self is for us a very good pain, because its result is to save us from ourselves. Without that pain, Lewis continues, “The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it.” In fact that pain is for us, in his famous phrase, “God’s megaphone” to rouse us from our sin.

To see the similarities with the Theologia at this point in Lewis’s argument, let’s return once more to that passage in the Theologia about hell and heaven as states of mind. This next bit has been heavily marked by Lewis: “And when a man is in one of these two states, all is right with him, and he is as safe in hell as in heaven, and so long as a man is on earth, it is possible for him to pass ofttimes from the one into the other; nay even within the space of a day and night, and all without his own doing. But when the man is in neither of these two states he holdeth converse with the creature, and wavereth [41] hither and thither, and knoweth not what manner of man he is. Therefore he shall never forget either of them, but lay up the remembrance of them in his heart.” (40-41)

Later in the Theologia we will discover how strict and “anti-nature” the Theologia’s Neoplatonism becomes at this point. The requirement of self-abandonment is, according to a later chapter, so absolute that we cannot even safely desire our own spiritual good. The only safe desire is the glory of God for who and what he is. Here is the tell-tale passage, marked by Lewis: “God is very willing to help a man and bring him to that which is best in itself, and is of all things the best for man. But to this end, all self-will must depart, . . . for so long as a man is seeking his own good, he doth not seek what is best for him, and will never find it. For a man’s highest good would be and truly is, that he should not seek himself nor his own things, nor be his own end in any respect, either in things spiritual or things natural, but should seek only the praise and glory of God and His holy will.” (121-122)

This creed of the Theologia that we must abandon ourselves to the degree that we cease even to desire our own spiritual good, which Lewis so heavily marked and annotated, and which he repeated in his own words in the Problem of Pain, nonetheless contradicts directly Lewis’s insistence that desire leads us to God. In his sermon “The Weight of Glory,” Lewis told his hearers that our problem is not that we desire too much, but that we desire too little. In fact, he insisted that “unselfishness” (or more explicitly, the denial or abandonment of self) is a dangerous virtue for Christians to make the highest one. I could review that argument, but for time’s sake we must finish.

[NOT READ: You’ll likely remember the first words of that sermon:

[“If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance.”

[Of course, Lewis goes on, the New Testament does contain injunctions to “deny ourselves and take up our crosses.” But, he insists,

[“nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.”]

In conclusion, as Paul Fiddes has argued,[7] Lewis seems never to have worked out a consistent understanding of the relationship between nature and grace: he sits in an uneasy tension between discontinuity and continuity. In taking on a theosis-like view of salvation, Lewis plays with a number of images that suggest radical discontinuity: we are statues that may come to life. We are tin soldiers that may become enfleshed, and that resist this enfleshment. We must be changed from being merely creations—merely “made” by God—to being sons—“begotten” by God. [8]

Though at other places, for example in using the image of a divine dance that we join, Lewis suggests more continuity between nature and grace, I would argue that these rather startling images of discontinuity give us a context for understanding why Lewis follows the Theologia, among other Dionysian writings, insisting like them that in order to reach heaven we must give up or abandon the very self, itself.

As he says in the “Beyond Personality” radio addresses that became part of Mere Christianity, “At the beginning I said there were Personalities in God. Well, I’ll go further now. There are no real personalities anywhere else. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.”[9] And as we have seen in The Problem of Pain, he pushes this discontinuity even farther by suggesting that our necessary self-abandonment does not end even in heaven.

It is frankly hard to see how this can be consistent with his understanding, expressed as an argument in “The Weight of Glory” and as a testimony in Pilgrim’s Regress and Surprised by Joy, that our desires—surely movements of some “self,” some “personality” within us—serve to bring us to God through the clues to divine reality we find within nature. How can that be so, when we believe, as the Theologia states in a passage Lewis marked out for emphasis, that “ . . . the Devil and Nature are one, and where nature is conquered the Devil is also conquered, and . . . where nature is not conquered the Devil is not conquered.” (175)

We find perhaps Lewis’s most poignant and direct expression of this negative thread in a late, posthumously published poem, titled “As the Ruin Falls”[10]

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love—a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek–
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm [discontinuity]. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man [statues, tin soldiers]. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

This image of the ruin falling in the midst of pain echoes a passage in A Grief Observed, in which Lewis reflects that his supposed faith in God has been largely self-deception, and that it is only through the painful experience of Joy’s death that God has finally blown down the house of cards he has created. As he puts it in The Problem of Pain, pain is God’s megaphone. Or as the Theologia puts it, in “hell”—that is, our state of mind when our self is being mortified—we are much safer than when we are simply living and enjoying our lives. Beneath the stream of Lewis’s Affirmative language of desire and joy, we find a sterner creed akin to that of the Theologia. Beneath Lewis the joy-seeker we discover a William James-esque “twice-born man”—a man who can never be comfortable with his own life as it is, and who must therefore experience a death and a rebirth, and new deaths ever after—indeed even in heaven.

[1] Hooper’s note on this Greek term, n. 26: ‘task’ or ‘work’.

[2] [n. 10: Theol. Germ., xxxii]

[3] A bunny-trail on pantheism: On this point the Theologia says, “Without the creature, [the divine nature] would lie in His own Self as a Substance . . . but would not be manifested or wrought out into deeds. Now God will have it to be exercised and clothed in a form . . . Nay, if there . . . were not this and that—works, and a world full of real things, and the like,–what were God Himself, and what had He to do, and whose God would He be?” (110 – 111). In a set of annotations from a later reading of the Theologia, Lewis objects: “All this, making the world as necessary to God as He is to it, now (1946) seems to me wrong and Pantheistic.” But he adds: “But the upshot holds: i.e. that the Divine Goodness when manifested in a creature must take the form proper to a creature—and this in man must be practical, moral etc.” (111, bottom margin)

[4] In writing a preface for the third edition of his Pilgrim’s Regress, Lewis makes this explicit: “‘I knew only too well how easily the longing accepts false objects and through what dark ways the pursuit of them leads us: but I also saw that the Desire itself contains the corrective of all these errors. The only fatal error was to pretend that you had passed from desire to fruition, when, in reality, you had found either nothing, or desire itself, or the satisfaction of some different desire.” “Lewis, preface to the third edition of The Pilgrim’s Regress, 9. (Barkman, 90)

[5] Oct 24, 1931, in Letters, 143-144.

[6] (602-603, Signature Classics edition)

[7] Paul S. Fiddes, “On Theology,” The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis (c.u.p., 2010, pp. 89 – 104)

[8] Paul S. Fiddes, “On Theology,” The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis (c.u.p., 2010, pp. 89 – 104)

[9] Mere Christianity (Glasgow: Collins, 1990 [1952]), 188

[10] Poems, “As the Ruin Falls” (1st pub. 1964), pp. 109-110

One response to ““Ticket to heaven”: C. S. Lewis’s debt to the Theologia Germanica on self-will, death, and heaven

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