C.S. Lewis on Judging the Past

Portrait of author/educator C.S. Lewis

Interesting thoughts from one of the 20th-century’s great intellectuals:

Between different ages there is no impartial judge on earth, for no one stands outside the historical process; and, of course, no one is so completely enslaved to it as those who take our own age to be not one more period but a final and permanent platform from which we can see all other ages objectively. 

–C.S. Lewis, Reflectons on the Psalms.

3 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis on Judging the Past

  1. By the way, the CS Lewis quote is attributed to his book of reflections on the psalms.
    I found that book very engaging. Lewis doesn’t get everything right, but who doe?
    It’s stimulating to see how he approaches the psalms and has insights that bring out things that are there, but don’t jump out in a casual read.


  2. Like Jeff my first thoughts went to the teleological orientation of the popular Christian/apocalyptic imagination, which always places itself near the climactic “End Times” moment–that’s why I think we’re so prone to apocalyptic literalism and overconfidence in our ability to interpret the present as the climax of the past. We place ourselves at the center of the apocalyptic narrative as the persecuted heroes, and it never occurs to us that we have as much capacity to be the dogmatic villains–so, ironically, our apocalyptic orientation usually means that as a group we affirm the bankruptcy of the current generation while simultaneously applauding the faithful few who see the world like we do. Thanks for the reference, this will plug in nicely to my ongoing dissertation work!


  3. True.
    And every generation experiences dramatic events such as wars, famines, floods, earthquakes, political and social upheavals.
    Christians of most generations see these as proof they are if the end times generation.
    It also reminds of the way American Christians see our country as some kind of Christian version of Israel.
    Now it’s really come together. Our country and our generation is the most important of human history.


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