Evidence that Lewis was worshiping wrong

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

via Quote by C.S. Lewis from Weight of Glory.

I love Lewis. I think he is worth more than several Reformed theologians that wisdom forbids me to name. At his worst he proves Nietzsche’s dictum that the mistakes of great men are more important than the truths of others. I need to read all of his works and re-read what I have read. I thank God for his voice in modern times.

But this quotation shows that the form of Lewis’ discipleship in public worship had pointed him in the direction of madness.

Because if you don’t notice your neighbor with your senses there chewing and slurping next to you then you are



I also love all the Christians in all the communions whose way of doing the Lord’s Supper I have just attacked in public.

Some things just will not be denied. Had to write this and post it.

Grape juice is an abomination too. So is excluding young children (as is my point here since they are also neighbors). I’m not claiming to be without sin here. God have mercy on us all.

But your neighbors in Church are part of the Blessed Sacrament. Without them, you end up eating and drinking judgment on yourself.

19 thoughts on “Evidence that Lewis was worshiping wrong

  1. Dave Salyer

    Not that Lewis needs someone like me to defend him, but isn’t the point of this quote to raise our esteem for our neighbor? Now maybe his heirarchical distinction is an unnecessary and incorrect one and I can agree with you there, but it seems to me his intention here is to make us be more conscious of our neighbors and their image-of-Godness, not less, as is often the result of the common evangelical practices you are attacking here.

  2. C. Frank Bernard

    The separation and order of eating the bread (the Lord’s body of flesh) and drinking the cup (The Lord’s blood) proclaims the Lord’s death (until he comes). Any other separation/division/faction/ignoring/misjudging of the gathered/united members during Communion proclaims to the Lord their desire for a different death.

  3. Matthew N. Petersen

    I’m not sure how you’re getting that from Lewis’ quote.

    Here’s the whole thing:

    Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point. That being so, it may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging. I can think of at least one such use. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

    (The quote you quoted ends there at the end.)

  4. Matthew N. Petersen

    Are you saying that if we believe the Blessed Sacrament is actually Christ we therefore necessarily believe the neighbor’s reception is unimportant??

    Or that if we believe Christ is the most important, and the neighbor’s importance is derived thence we therefore imply that the neighbor is irrelevant??

    This post doesn’t make any sense at all to me.

    1. mark Post author

      Matthew, I’m not making any point at all about what you believe. I’m saying you should never see or experience the elements (reductively called the “blessed sacrament” by Lewis) without experiencing one’s Christian neighbors. They all come together.

      But if (perhaps) one takes the Lord’s Supper on one’s knees up front, not looking at anyone else, I think one should rethink how one is doing it.

      It seems to me Lewis’ alternative could only arise in such circumstances. But I may be wrong.

  5. Michael

    Intereting that you guys believe the Supper is such without even being prayed over. I know that some Reformed pray for the reception of such, but I have yet to hear about a Reformed church that actually performs an epiclesis, a blessing over the bread and wine itself. Does bringing wine in make it the bloof of Christ? Without at least some sort of blessing, is it really anything but standard bread and wine?

    1. mark Post author

      ??? I always pray as I break bread and then when I take the cup, just as Jesus did and just as Paul passed on to the church. What do you mean “without being prayed over”?

      1. Michael

        A prayer of consecration to hallow the elements! I believe even the Westminster Book of Divine Worship prescribes a prayer of consecration. I do not believe most Reformed pray “over” the elements. They may pray about the partaking, but that is completely different.

  6. Seaton

    Maybe I’m dense, but where do you get that Lewis didn’t notice his neighbor next to him. He simply says that of all the things sensible to us the sacrament is holiest, followed by our neighbor. What am I missing?

    1. Matthew N. Petersen

      Yeah, that’s my question too. Surely the Sacrament is not the neighbor. Distinguishing the two isn’t the problem. So is it thinking that the Sacrament is more holy than our non-Christian neighbor? Surely that isn’t problematic either. So is it thinking the Sacrament is more holy than our neighbor? Perhaps, but that isn’t a direct implication of the passage. And even if it is, I’m not sure why a belief in the Real Presence necessitates a belief that the neighbor is unimportant? But you denied that was your point above. So I’m lost hearing talk of “Lewis alternative” but exactly what that alternative is is never defined.

    1. Seaton

      If all you’re claiming is that the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper includes experiencing one’s neighbor, then where is the evidence that Lewis was worshipping wrong? I don’t read anywhere in the quote, or the extended quote, that Lewis was ignoring or not experiencing his neighbor. On the contrary, Lewis draws attention to his neighbor and specifically causes the reader to notice them. So how is he worshipping wrong?

    1. Mom/Ruth

      No, the Sacrament is not the neighbor, but neither is it the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper without the neighbor.

      It seems to me the Lewis quote is prioritizing things that should be considered holy but in doing so he doesn’t recognize or acknowledge that communing with the Body means the neighbor is an integral and inseparable part of the Sacrament.

      Sorry for the run-on sentence…

  7. Matthew N. Petersen

    And the non-Christian neighbor is surely not a part of the Sacrament, and as context shows, in that passage, Lewis is talking about the neighbor, whether Christian, or nonChristian.


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