Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived Love Wins question

Great Divorce and Love Wins... a fair comparison?
Jay Miklovic Jay Nov 18, 2011 06:57AM
A number of people seem to believe that with "Love Wins" Bell has accomplished something similar to what Lewis accomplished with "The Great Divorce".

My thoughts? I think people are missing the point of "The Great Divorce" all together, which was to expose why people reject grace, and the absurdity of rejecting grace. It's a bit disingenuous to make "The Great Divorce" out to be an explanation of heaven and hell. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Just to throw my two pence in here, Jay, I believe you are partly right about Lewis's purpose of the Great Divorce, but I also believe you are guilty of what protestantism has tried to do to Lewis, make him not as catholic as he was.

If you look into Lewis' other work, like Letters to Malcolm, you see that his view of heaven, hell and yes, even purgatory are very different from the majority of Protestantism. Chiefly, Lewis was heavily influenced by Cardinal Newman, a RC convert from being an Anglo-catholic, who wrote extensively during the Tractarian movement in England in the late 1800s. Here is one of favorite quotes of Lewis on Purgatory:

I believe in Purgatory.

Mind you, the Reformers had good reasons for throwing doubt on the 'Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory' as that Romish doctrine had then become.....

The right view returns magnificently in Newman's DREAM. There, if I remember it rightly, the saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed. It cannot bear for a moment longer 'With its darkness to affront that light'. Religion has claimed Purgatory.

Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.'

I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. But I don't think the suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. . . . The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much.

My favourite image on this matter comes from the dentist's chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am 'coming round',' a voice will say, 'Rinse your mouth out with this.' This will be Purgatory. The rinsing may take longer than I can now imagine. The taste of this may be more fiery and astringent than my present sensibility could endure. But . . . it will [not] be disgusting and unhallowed."

- C.S. Lewis, Letters To Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, chapter 20, paragraphs 7-10, pages 108-109

As for the comparison of Lewis and Bell, I do think it's unfounded and I believe Rob Bell would agree with that. He is a great writer that asks a lot of questions, but a Lewis he is not.

Jay Miklovic Thanks for this comment, I was aware of Lewis' belief in purgatory, and I can see how you might see my comment as a 'rescue' attempt on Lewis. Do you ...more
Nov 29, 2011 09:00AM · flag

Joe (last edited Nov 25, 2011 07:57AM ) Nov 25, 2011 07:56AM   1 vote
"Love Wins" is of no comparison to "The Great Divorce," either in literary, spiritual or intellectual terms. Lewis was a brilliant writer (hence his impending classical status), but Bell (while not an awful writer) comes nowhere near his level of skill and nuance.

"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened."

And that is the principle of the point which Rob Bell missed.

I think that it is a fair comparison because the implication of the fiction of Lewis are simliar to that which is implied (more or less overtly) in Bell's book.

For example, Lewis has characters in Hell because they will not choose otherwise. The implication being that if they were to choose otherwise they could go to heaven.

Bell has a similar notion.

I would say that when people compare Bell and Lewis it is because of coincidental overlaps in thinking than it is a comparison of literary prowess.

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