C.S. Lewis on Socialism

Recently, upon sharing that I had lost my faith in God, and even the belief in God, several people suggested that I read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Although I do not find his rhetorical argument for the existence of God sound, I found his arguments about free will intriguing and definitely his critique of the modern Christian.  I know when I was a Christian, this is how I interpreted the ideas of social behavior in the New Testament. It is very curious, then, as CS Lewis is admired by many modern Christians, and this very book recommended by them, that they choose to ignore this part of his argument as well as this part of the New Testament.  Socialism is the great evil according to many Christians. Capitalism and financial success are literally worshipped in this society, and by none more so than Christians. From CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity:  

“The New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like . . .a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist . . .If there were such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression.  We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, ‘advanced,’ but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old fashioned. . .That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine.  We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out those bits and pieces and leave the rest.  That is why we do not get much further; and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say they are fighting for Christianity.

Now another point.  There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed.  All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest—what we call investment—is the basis of our whole system” (Lewis, pp. 65-66).

4 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis on Socialism

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  1. Capitalism is against Christianity but most Christians (especially the ”non-denominational” ones in the USA) are merely nationalistic arch-capitalist conservatives who simply hide behind religion rather than really believing in it. A Christian society should be economically socialist (an ideology that has not just been about ”consolidation of power” but was partly created by Methodists in England).


  2. Ah, but is there a difference between a Christian collective society and Socialism? I don’t believe the Left proposes Socialism because of its Christianity. The Left proposes Socialism because of its consolidation of power.


  3. At the time when I wrote this, numerous Christians held up C.S. Lewis as an authority on Christian belief. Only recently has he come under fire as possibly a heretic. The modern Christian will continue to worship money, I have no doubt, regardless of how many Christian icons they have to throw under the bus to justify their idolatry–a generalization, admittedly, but all too common. The nature of money has not changed, and to quote from the Christian sacred text, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” It seems to be quite the same to me.


  4. To answer your question, a wise person can admire a man while also recognizing that he was imperfect, as we all are, and stumbled at times. If a person had to be personally infallible to be listened to, no one could make the cut.

    As for interest, here is an explanation for why charging interest today is moral: http://www.ewtn.com/v/experts/showmessage.asp?number=346319&Pg=&Pgnu=&recnu=

    The answer is that it’s because the nature of money has changed.


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