TO PETER BIDE, whose wife, Margaret, also had cancer: On the propriety of praying prayers that question God and challenge God rather than insincere prayers; and on the need to risk the heresy that God the Father suffers (Patripassianism) in order to avoid the greater heresy that God is indifferent when we suffer.
14 June 1960
I know your faith will stand firm.
Joy says (do you agree?) that we needn’t be too afraid of questionings and expostulations: it was the impatience of Job, not the theodicies of Elihu [Job 32:2],that was pleasing to God. Does He like us to ‘stand up to Him’ a bit? Certainly He cannot like mere flattery—resentment masquerading as submission through fear.
How impossible it would be now to face it without rage if God Himself had not shared the horrors of the world He made! I know this is Patripassianism. But the other way of putting it, however theologically defensible, lets in (psychologically) perhaps a more serious error.
Joy had her right breast removed about 10 days ago, or—as she characteristically put it—became an Amazon. . . .
Thus we can still play the fool . . . you will not misunderstand it. I wish we could meet. Till we do, be sure of our prayers.
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.