C.S. Lewis Quotes

c.s. lewis      th

Biography

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 189822 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an Irish author and scholar. Lewis is known for his work on medieval literature, Christian apologetics, literary criticism and fiction. He is best known today for his series The Chronicles of Narnia.

Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings. Both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings“. Due in part to Tolkien’s influence, Lewis converted to Christianity, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England“. (Lewis 1952, p. 6) His conversion had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim. Late in life he married the American writer Joy Gresham, who died of bone cancer four years later at the age of 45.

Quotes

I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun, not just because I see it, but because by it I can see everything else

-C.S. Lewis

“If I had really cared as I thought I did about the sorrows of the world I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came- I thought I trusted the rope until it mattered to me whether it would bear me, now it matters and I find I didn’t.”

-C.S. Lewis

Aslan speaking to Bree the horse; “now Bree, you poor, proud, frightened horse, draw near. Nearer still, my son. Do not dare not to dare. Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast.

-C.S. Lewis (Horse and his Boy)

Child said Aslan, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.

-C.S. Lewis

Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose…only upon the Beloved who will never pass away.

-C.S. Lewis

I pray because I cant help myself, I pray because I am helpless, I pray because the need flows out of me. Prayer does not change God, it changes me.

-C.S. Lewis

The happiness now is part of the pain later, the pain later is part of the happiness now.

-C.S. Lewis

Our best havings are wantings

-C.S. Lewis

(Mad, Bad, or God) I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claims to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

-C.S. Lewis

(Christ the Lion) ‘Are you thirsty?’ said the Lion. ‘I’m dying of thirst,’ said Jill. ‘Then drink,’ said the Lion. ‘May I-could I-would you mind going away while I do?’ said Jill. The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl…’I dare not come and drink,’ said Jill. Then you will die of thirst,’ said the Lion. ‘Oh dear!’ said Jill, coming another step nearer. ‘I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.’ ‘There is no other stream,’ said the Lion.

-C.S. Lewis

(Faith in the Dark) Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.’

-C.S. Lewis

This is Lucy talking to Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan:
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” and Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?
Who said anything about safe?” ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.
He’s the King, I tell you.”

-C.S. Lewis

(Something Wrong) Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christina rule is, ‘either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One our the other…you can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act-that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?

-C.S. Lewis

When I first became a Christian, about 14 years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my room and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to churches and gospel halls…I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nonetheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

-C.S. Lewis

It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects-education, building, missions, holding services…the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.

-C.S. Lewis

God loves us not because we are loveable, but because He is love

-C.S. Lewis

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world

-C.S. Lewis

Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is…that is why bad people know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means-the only complete realist     

-C.S. Lewis

Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you do, as soon as we do this we find one of the greatest secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.

-C.S. Lewis

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must not give your heart to no one, not even to an animal…lock it up safe in the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket…it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable…the only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

-C.S. Lewis

‘He has set eternity in their hearts’ (Ecc. 3:11) “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

-C.S. Lewis

“We do not want merely to see beauty, we want something else that can hardly be put into words-to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

-C.S. Lewis

Until you have given yourself to Him you will not have a real self.

-C.S. Lewis

A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.

-C.S. Lewis

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is

-C.S. Lewis

“Who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape? The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

-C.S. Lewis

Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement. He is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor – that is the only way out of a hole. This process of surrender – this movement full speed astern – is repentance.

-C.S. Lewis

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky

-C.S. Lewis

The command “Be ye perfect” is not idealistic gas.  Nor is it a command to do the impossible.  He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command.   

-C.S. Lewis

“The hard sayings of Christ are nourishing only to those who find them hard. He has given us the daunting task to feed unconditionally the hungry and broken around us. But so, he has given us himself. His is a love that receives us unadorned and vulnerable, love not merited because of accomplishments but because of desperate need.”

-C.S. Lewis

The devil, he writes, “always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking about which is the worse… He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. It is a struggle that calls us to be faithfully alert, lest we oscillate from one plague to another. “But do not let us be fooled” writes Lewis. “We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through both errors.”

-C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis writes of the Gospel, “Here is a door, behind which, according to some people, the secret of the universe is waiting for you. Either that is true or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, then what the door really conceals is simply the greatest fraud, the most colossal ‘sell’ on record. Isn’t it obviously the job of every person…to try to find out which, and then to devote his full energies either to serving this tremendous secret or to exposing and destroying this gigantic humbug?”

-C.S. Lewis

“May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou I speak to.

-C.S. Lewis

“When the author walks on the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right…something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise…it will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.”

-C S Lewis

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’

-C.S. Lewis

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else…It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work…All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it.

-C.S. Lewis (the Problem of Pain (New York Macmillan, 1962 Pg. 145)

I have tried since…to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different…Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “what must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun…If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labor.”

-Letter so Malcom chiefly on prayer p.89-90

Provided the thing is in itself right, the more one likes it and the less one has to “try to be good,” the better. A perfect man would never act from sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people), like a crutch, which substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it’s idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits, etc.) can do the journey on their own

-C.S. Lewis (C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children, ed. Lyle W. Dorsett and Majorie Lamp Mead (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 276

“We should bring to God what is in us, not what ought to be in us. The ‘oughts’ will keep us from telling the truth. They will also keep us from feeling the truth. Especially the truth about our pain.”

-C.S. Lewis

“Our greatest dignity as creatures is not in initiative but in response. God speaks, we hear. He knocks, we open. He sows the seed, we receive it.”

-C.S. Lewis

“The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is—what it was intended to do and how it was meant to be used.”

-C.S. Lewis

The presence of God is not the same as the sense of the presence of God. The latter may be due to imagination; the former may be attended with no “sensible consolation”. The act which engenders a child ought to be, and usually is, attended by pleasure. But it is not the pleasure that produces the child. Where there is pleasure there may be sterility: where there is no pleasure the act may be fertile. And in the spiritual marriage of God and the soul it is the same. It is the actual presence, not the sensation of the presence, of the Holy Spirit which begets Christ in us. The sense of the presence is a super-added gift for which we give thanks when it comes.”

-C.S. Lewis

That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter, life come flowing in. and so on, all day…we can do it only for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our systems because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us.”

-C.S. Lewis

Christ works on us in all sorts of ways…He works through Nature, through our own bodies, through books,…But above all, He works on us through each other.”

-C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

“Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”

-C.S. Lewis   A Grief Observed

“Think of yourself just as a seed patiently wintering in the earth; waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking.”

-C.S. Lewis   Letter dated June 29, 1963

“There is only One being who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.”

– C.S. Lewis

“We must lay before God what is in us, not what ought to be in us”

-C.S. Lewis

Lose you life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day, and death to your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find him, and with him everything else thrown in.

-C.S. Lewis

To forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – how can we do it?  Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what he says.

-C.S. Lewis

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