A few previously unpublished letters from CS Lewis revealed that his wife’s death tested his faith.
The letters, written before the death of The Chronicles of Narnia author, showed his grief over the death of his wife, Joy Davidman, in 1960. He was corresponding with American scientist Thomas Van Osdall. The letters, believed to be some of the last letters Lewis wrote, showed the questions in his mind as he faced his own mortality, reports The Guardian.
One of these letters shows his faith wasn’t destroyed. He was speaking out of the framework of faith. —Michael Peterson, professor of philosophy at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky
Dated between May 27 and October 26, 1963, the letters– two by Van Osdall and three by Lewis, give a glimpse of how Lewis spent his final days. He died a few weeks later, on November 22.
Lewis and Van Osdall were devout Christians and shared an interest in science and theology. The deaths of their loved ones, Lewis’ wife and Van Osdall’s only child, led the two to discuss their thoughts and opinions.
The novelist, who lost his wife to bone cancer, wrote: “You tell a most moving story. I too have lost what I most loved. Indeed unless we die young ourselves, we mostly do. We must die before them or see them die before us. And when we wish – and how agonizingly we do, o how perpetually! – it is entirely for ourselves, for our sakes not theirs.”
Some of the questions the scientist asked Lewis were, “Can it be that science and theology are actually traveling the same road and that someday both will meet?” and “Is your concern, at this point, with the problems of uncertainty, wave and particle dilemma, probability and free will?”
Lewis replied, “When I spoke about the hypothesis of a lawless ‘subnature’ I certainly had in mind ‘uncertainty wave – and particle dilemma,’ not free will…”
Lewis’ faith influenced his work, particularly The Chronicles of Narnia. In one of his essays, he wrote, “It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn’t anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.”
Van Osdall died in 2001 and his family gave the letters to his university, Ashland University, Ohio. The University passed on the letters to Michael Peterson, professor of philosophy at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky.
“There are three volumes of Lewis’s letters out there – and now five others show up. Just to see the handwriting, you get a little sense of…Lewis’s personality. He was a very intense but warm person. That comes across,” said Peterson.
Peterson believes that the death of Davidman tested Lewis’ faith, but his doubts didn’t sway his belief. “One of these letters shows his faith wasn’t destroyed. He was speaking out of the framework of faith.”