Recently, with the dust up over Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins, and his statements about heaven, hell, and the fate that awaits every person who ever lived, there has been a push to say that C.S. Lewis would have basically agreed with Bell on his perspective that eventually, almost everyone will get in to heaven because, well, love wins. One, I haven't read Bell's book, so I don't know exactly what he says on the subject. I have better things to do than to bash Rob Bell. Two, I haven't read everything that Lewis says on the subject, so I don't fully know if the two agree or not, but when I read statements from Lewis like the one following, I am at least aware of his declared need for a choice in this life - not after this life. It matters how we live now and it matters what we do with Jesus now. Will we believe in Him and walk in His way, or will we go our own way, and then hope that everything will work out and we will get another chance? Lewis clearly states in Mere Chrstianity that we must worship Christ now, not later:
Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil? Why is He not landing in force, invading it? Is it that He is not strong enough? Well, Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely. I do not suppose you and I would have though much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side. God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else - something it never entered your head to conceive - comes crasing in; 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; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. 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. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.
Pretty strong words from someone who is being called upon as support for Bell's position. I understand that Lewis' position was not simplistic and that he embraced some views that I might not fully agree with on this subject. But, here, I believe that Lewis is dead on. It makes perfect sense to me, from not only a Biblical perspective, but also from a justice and mercy perspective, that God gives us a chance in this life to respond to His gracious offer of salvation in Christ. I am not a determinist or a fatalist. I do believe in free will and I do believe that salvation is all of God and none of us (I also believe in God's sovereignty, but I will save how all of that comes together for another post - or, perhaps I will leave it to the realm of mystery where it belongs). But, we are called upon to respond and God is graciously giving us that opportunity. Will we respond to God? Will we awaken to the eternal life that He offers us, or will be begin and continue down a path of eternal death and separation from God?
It seems that the way that we respond to that question is probably the most important thing about our lives on this planet for however long we have here.