The Christian Universalism of George MacDonald

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6 Responses to The Christian Universalism of George MacDonald

  1. Listening to this showed me even more about how I felt about the letters you kindly showed where C.S.Lewis wrote on his views on hell. And the realisation of how he twisted George Macdonald and used him in his book ‘The great divorce,’ to make even his ‘mentor’ bow down to his own beliefs in hell. And to force that view onto others, who would read the book. Some not even knowing George well. And then those reading that probably to think that everything George had said, he reneged on when he died. I found that the greatest betrayal it could be. To turn his back almost even. And to try to put words in Georges mouth he would never have said. I was so angry that he had done that. Because I KNOW George would NEVER have changed his mind about how he felt of a god who would cast people into hell. He knew who God truly was. Love. And listening to this that really comes across. Thankyou.


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      I think you’re being too harsh on Jack. I’m sure he thought he was bringing George into the theological mainstream and in his way commending him to the wider Christian public. And there is a difference between fiction and history, after all. 🙂

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      • True. I was pretty pissed at the time. I just find it hard the way he did it.


      • Dossn’t Lewis acknowledge in the book that McDonald’s beliefs were not what they are in the book? That seems fair enough to me. I guess this is eventually going to become a documentary, eh? Sounds pretty cool, maybe my friends and wife will watch it.

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        • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

          Dreamer-Lewis says to dreamed-MacDonald, “You talked as if all men would be saved. And St. Paul too.” And dreamed-MacDonald answers, “Ye can know nothing of the end of all things, or nothing expressible in those terms. It may be, as the Lord said to the Lady Julian, that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well. But it’s ill talking of such things.” And, the “Preface” in which Lewis in the last paragraph begs “readers to remember that this is a fantasy”, includes in the second “if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.” This seems very close to a paraphrase of part of selection 112 in George MacDonald: An Anthology (1946) from the Unspoken Sermon, ‘The Last Farthing’, which he entitles “The Inexorable”: “There is no heaven with a little of hell in it – no plan to retain this of that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets” – though one could compare other selections he makes, too.

          The Anthology, Lewis says in its “Preface”, is “to spread his [MacDonald’s] religious teaching” and would surely encourage people to want to read more for themselves, however difficult that may have been for anyone not living near one of the great British deposit libraries until the excellent reprints of his books of sermons from the late 1980s on (and later, the Internet!). Lewis begins the next paragraph,”I will attempt no historical or theological classification of MacDonald’s thought, partly because I have not the learning to do so, still more because I am no great friend to such pigeonholing. One very effective way of silencing the voice of conscience is to impound in an Ism the teacher through whom it speaks […] And in MacDonald it is always the voice of conscience that speaks.” That strikes me very much like a gloss on having dreamed-MacDonald say, “And wouldn’t Universalism do the same? You cannot know eternal reality by a definition […] it must be lived.”


  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Brenton Dickieson in his “80th Anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters” (10 February 2022) links something I had forgotten – his transcription of a 1947 Time Magazine review of George Macdonald: an Anthology. It is interesting to see what warm prominence the Anthology (“Lewis’ full-dress tribute to his master”) was given – and therewith what a stimulus to reading more MacDonald.

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