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Review of C.S. Lewis Goes to Heaven

May 2, 2012

Review of C.S. Lewis Goes to Heaven (Dr. David G. Clark)

In C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce the narrator eventually meets a guide to help him comprehend his experiences. Some readers of that book wished they had their own mentor to assist them in better understanding it. The wish has been granted with David Clark’s book that is a detailed examination of The Great Divorce. In C.S. Lewis Goes to Heaven Clark proves to be a very interesting and valuable teacher who provides useful background information and details that are easily missed. These aspects include: 1.) How Lewis’ view of Purgatory was different than the Catholic view and 2.) Lewis’ belief that Jesus was able to speak to all of humankind because he descended into the timeless Hades, so all are given a chance to hear the gospel (even though many don’t accept it). For these and other aspects of Lewis’ theology Clark provides careful explanations and Biblical support.

The introduction helps you achieve a proper perspective of what Lewis was accomplishing in his book, and definitions of theological terms listed alphabetically helps the reader understand how Lewis used them. Then the majority of C.S. Lewis Goes to Heaven is divided into three parts. The first (“Sociology”) focuses on the characters and serves as a great overview of the story. The “Geography” part (the shortest) spotlights the places, or landscapes encountered on the journey, and explains their theological significance. The third section examines the “Theology” of the book and provides a helpful explanation (as noted above) for tackling frequent objections to Lewis’ concept of  Purgatory, which is very different from the traditional Catholic concept. Finally, there are three excellent appendices, including a very detailed final one on the historical people and literary references used by Lewis.

Clark’s book helps to remove what is often a challenge for readers of this short book by Lewis. As a supposal, you have to “go along” with Lewis until his narrator gains a better understand of what is happening to him. With Clark’s book you gain his wisdom from having taught on Lewis for three decades on how to appreciate the dream to the fullest extent. I must admit, however, that the layout of C.S. Lewis Goes to Heaven  first turned me off. I thought it had too many divisions, but after reading it I understood the balance it provides by the chosen structure.

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