Tag Archives: Phillip Pullman

Was C. S. Lewis right about Hinduism?

C. S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis aged 50

I have read and enjoyed a number of C. S. Lewis’s stories. I remember being read the Narnia series of stories by my father when I was small. Though you can tell that they have a Christian analogy this does not get in the way of them being good stories.

I cannot say that I have read much of his non-fiction work, but I know that he was renowned as a Christian writer. I was reminded of this by a post from the myownashram blog.

C. S. Lewis is still often quoted by Christian evangelists. As he was an atheist who converted to Christianity he is seen as validating their beliefs.  One quote that I have seen used a lot is this one:

There is no question of just a crowd of disconnected religions. The choice is between (a.) The materialist world picture: wh. I can’t believe. (b.) The real archaic primitive religions; wh. are not moral enough. (c.) The (claimed) fulfillment of these in Hinduism. (d.) The claimed fulfillment of these in Xianity. But the weakness of Hinduism is that it doesn’t really merge the two strands. Unredeemable savage religion goes on in the village; the Hermit philosophizes in the forest: and neither really interfaces with the other. It is only Xianity which compels a high brow like me to partake of a ritual blood feast, and also compels a central African convert to attempt an elightened [sic] code of ethics.

Some Christian sights embellish the quote, this is an example from a Catholic site, which gives no reference . Searches fail to find a corresponding original text!:

Religions are like soups, he said. Some, like consomme, are thin and clear (Unitarianism, Confucianism, modern Judaism); others, like minestrone, are thick and dark (paganism, “mystery religions”). Only Hinduism and Christianity are both “thin” (philosophical) and “thick” (sacramental and mysterious). But Hinduism is really two religions: “thick” for the masses, “thin” for the sages. Only Christianity is both.

I think in dismissing all religions apart from Christianity and Hinduism he does a disservice to many; I am sure that Taoism, Judaism, Sikhism and many more are practiced by both the highly sophisticated and the simple country village folk. I will leave that point for followers of these religions to answer though.  I will answer one question: Is his comment on Hinduism true though? I don’t believe it is.  Continue reading