FACT CHECK: Did C.S. Lewis Say, ‘You Do Not Have A Soul. You Are A Soul. You Have A Body’?
A post shared on Facebook alleges that Christian apologist C.S. Lewis once said, “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
This saying does not appear anywhere in C.S. Lewis’s collected works.
C.S. Lewis, widely regarded as an influential 20th century writer and theologian, is perhaps best known for his fantasy novel series “The Chronicles of Narnia,” which has since been adapted for the big screen. He also wrote extensively about religious matters in works like “The Problem of Pain” and “Reflections on the Psalms.”
However, nowhere in his writings or “The Quotable Lewis,” a book that contains more than 1,500 verified quotes, did the Daily Caller News Foundation find the quote attributed to Lewis in the Facebook post. The C.S. Lewis Foundation includes the saying on a section of its website labeled “Quotes Misattributed to C.S. Lewis.”
The DCNF reached out to several experts, none of whom thought the expression originated with Lewis. Other experts, like “The Misquotable C.S. Lewis” author William O’Flaherty, have also debunked it online.
The quote may actually originate with Scottish author and minister George MacDonald, according to O’Flaherty. In his 1867 book “Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood,” MacDonald wrote a similar expression, “They ought to be taught that they have bodies; and that their bodies die; while they themselves live on … that we talk as if we POSSESSED souls, instead of BEING souls.”
A monthly journal called “The British Friend” later attributed a shorter version of the quote to MacDonald in an 1892 article. That truncated version, O’Flaherty theorizes, was subsequently associated with Lewis, who enjoyed MacDonald’s work.
Yet, while there is no evidence that Lewis coined the statement attributed to him in the Facebook post, he did discuss the relationship between the soul and the body in his writing. In “Letters to Malcolm,” for example, Lewis wrote, “At present we tend to think of the soul as somehow ‘inside’ the body. But the glorified body of the resurrection as I conceive it – the sensuous life raised from its death – will be inside the soul.”
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