Master of Arts (MA)
Religion & Culture / Religious Studies
Faculty of Arts
This thesis is a discussion of C.S. Lewis’s unique eschatological concept, the temporal-eternal continuum, primarily through detailed descriptions of his geographical metaphor, the borderlands of heaven. Lewis believed that he had discovered, both in his own experience and in the shared history of humanity, evidence of such a continuum, a direct path from the temporal to the eternal; a path that is followed in the present, and not merely anticipated as appearing at the climactic moment of one’s death. Each person has already taken his place on that continuum, and will hold that position unless a choice is made to change paths while still in the temporal stage. Lewis did not accept that an essential dichotomy—nature – supernature, or time versus eternity—exists. Instead, in holding to a consistent view of the temporal-eternal continuum, he presented one coherent whole, albeit in two unequal stages. In chapter one of the thesis, the themes “joy” and “awe” are discussed. Long before his conversion to Christianity, Lewis realized intense experiences of “joy”, glimpses of “something other and beyond”. He came to believe that these experiences were hints of the ultimate joyful reality that is, in its centre, God. He began to see that life is imbedded with moments of joy, which can direct one on the path toward God. In several of his works, Lewis argued that pagan myths were “pictures” intended to kindle joyful desire, given to man by God as guideposts toward truth. The thesis argues that Lewis adopted a sometimes hidden agenda in his writings: his intention was to provide guideposts and opportunities for his readers to glimpse this joy. The second theme of the first chapter is “awe”. Lewis’s expressions to God were always couched in reverent awe, and while writing about God, he carefully avoided presumption. These two concepts lie behind Lewis’s creation of “the borderlands of heaven”, his geographical metaphor of the temporal-eternal continuum. This exists in most of Lewis’s fictional books, being especially prominent in The Great Divorce, the Narnia stories, The Pilgrim’s Regress, the science fiction trilogy and Till We Have Faces. The discussion of this literary creation forms chapter two of the thesis. The second chapter also includes the section entitled “One Step into Heaven: The Weight of Glory”. On occasion, Lewis cautiously portrayed heaven, beyond the borderlands, intending to offer to his readers another opportunity for “joy” through a brief but poignant look at eternal Reality. The final chapter of the thesis is a discussion of specific concepts of Lewis’s eschatology: heaven, purgatory, hell, and the eschaton.
Knowles, Paul Medford, "The temporal-eternal continuum of C.S. Lewis" (1985). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 89.