TO MR. N. FRIDAMA, who seems to have asked Lewis about the steps in his conversion to Christianity: On the Calvinist doctrine of double predestination.
15 February 1946
I was baptised in the Church of Ireland (same as Anglican). My parents were not notably pious but went regularly to church and took me. My mother died when I was a child.
My Christian faith was first undermined by the attitude taken towards Pagan religion in the notes of modern editors of Latin and Greek poets at school. They always assumed that the ancient religion was pure error: hence, in my mind, the obvious question ‘Why shouldn’t ours be equally false?’ A theosophical Matron at one school helped to break up my early beliefs, and after that a ‘Rationalist’ tutor to whom I went finished the job. I abandoned all belief in Christianity at about the age of 14, though I pretended to believe for fear of my elders. I thus went thro’ the ceremony of Confirmation in total hypocrisy. My beliefs continued to be agnostic, with fluctuation towards pantheism and various other sub-Christian beliefs, till I was about 29.
I was brought back (a.) By Philosophy. I still think [Bishop George] Berkeley’s proof for the existence of God is unanswerable. (b.) By increasing knowledge of medieval literature. It became harder and harder to think that all those great poets and philosophers were wrong. (c.) By the strong influence of 2 writers, the Presbyterian George MacDonald and the Roman Catholic, G.K. Chesterton. (d.) By argument with an Anthroposophist [Owen Barfield]. He failed to convert me to his own views (a kind of Gnosticism) but his attack on my own presuppositions smashed the ordinary pseudo-‘scientific’ world-picture forever.
On Calvinism. Both the statement that our final destination is already settled and the view that it still may be either Heaven or Hell, seem to me to imply the ultimate reality of Time, which I don’t believe in. The controversy is one I can’t join on either side for I think that in the real (Timeless) world it is meaningless. In great haste.
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 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.