Clive Staples Lewis (Jack)

Aslan?

C.S. Lewis is one of the most popular Christian writers of the twentieth century. He claimed being neither preacher nor theologian but a thinking disciple of Christ. And yet, there are classes in many bible colleges that study “The Theology of C.S. Lewis.” He had sometimes amazing biblical insights and a gift for communicating those insights to princes and paupers alike; at the same time he was careful to neither add to nor detract from clear bible truth.

 “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”” John 1:47 [ESV]

C.S. Lewis’ Sidecar Conversion

 
 
C.S. Lewis' Sidecar Conversion

Individuals have surrendered their lives to Christ in all sorts of places. The revivalist Charles G. Finney converted in a woods; John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” repented while lashed to a ship’s wheel in a storm; Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Ministries, asked God into his life while crying in a car on a roadside. C. S. Lewis converted while riding to a zoo in his brother’s motorcycle side car.

“When we set out I did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and when we reached the zoo I did.” Jack (as he preferred to be called) had earlier become a theist–one who believes there is a God. He was converted to full Christianity on this day, September 22, 1931 following a long talk he’d had on the 19th with two Christian friends: J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson.

Tolkien, who was soon to create the most imitated fantasy of our century, The Lord of the Rings, argued that even some myths can originate in God, preserving truth, however distorted. One might do God’s work by writing myths. Lewis doubted myths embodied truth at all. The three argued until 3 A.M. when Tolkien went home. Dyson and Lewis walked and talked some more. Dyson insisted Christianity works. It puts the believer at peace, frees him of sin, and provides outside help to straighten him out.

On Christmas Day, C. S. Lewis joined the church and took communion. He felt that faith had given him a solid footing; he had lacked a sense of direction for his talent. By the middle of 1932 he had written the first of the many books which made him one of the best-loved 20th century Christian apologists: The Pilgrim’s Regress. He would go on to create his own wonderful fantasy world: Narnia.

Asked to present a series of radio talks, he gave the broadcasts which were brought together in his book Mere Christianity. These include probably the most famous quotation of all apologetics: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either he was and is the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Lewis married an American divorcee, Joy Gresham. She contracted a painful cancer. The story of her dying and his grief has twice been filmed as Shadowlands.

 

Bibliography

  • Dan Graves, MSL
  1. Gresham, Douglas H. Lenten Lands; My childhood with Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis. New York: Macmillan, 1988.
  2. Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York: Macmillan, 1970.
  3. ————–. Surprised by Joy. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1955.
  4. “Lewis, Clive Staples.” Dictionary of National Biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. London: Oxford University Press, 1921 – 1996.
  5. Petersen, William J. C. S. Lewis Had a Wife; Catherine Marshall Had a Husband. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1986.
  6. Sayer, George. Jack; C. S. Lewis and his Times. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.
  7. Wellman, Sam. C. S. Lewis; Author of Mere Christianity. Urichsville, Ohio: Barbour, nd.
  8. Various other accounts of Lewis’ life in books, encyclopedias and on the internet.

Having read much of Lewis’ writing from his own thoughts, I came to the realization that here was a man I liked. “Liked” seems such a small word. But the depth of the true meaning goes so much deeper. Below is a small sample in how he asks the question: “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” A type of apologetic I supposed. But a question all Christians should revisit from time to time. [G.W.]

13 thoughts on “Clive Staples Lewis (Jack)”

  1. Hi G.W, fellow C.S Lewis admirer here!
    I recently finished reading “Becoming Mrs Lewis” by Patti Callahan Henry. A fascinating look at the woman behind the man so to speak, and the influence his writing had on her finding faith, and then the influence she had as an accomplished author in her own right, upon Lewis’ writing during their years together. Interesting stuff! -Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jo,
      Thank you for mentioning that. Yes, the story behind Lewis and Joy Davidman becoming involved leading to a very happy marriage is truly a fascinating story in his life. I haven’t read the book you are referring to but have read some of their correspondence back and forth in his published letters, and his correspondence with friends about it. Her early death by cancer broke his heart leading to his writing of it in “A Grief Observed.” A very heart-wrenching read describing his pain and struggles of faith he experienced at losing her.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tolkien and Lewis are two of my kids favorite authors. They love that Tolkien played a role in Lewis’ conversion. I look forward to introducing them to Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, and The Four Loves in a few years. I just heard a fascinating podcast by Chuck Colson’s ministry Breakpoint on Lewis’ books, in which they recommended reading “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” in conjunction with Mere Christianity and “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” with The Abolition of Man.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”/ Mere Christianity
      “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”/ The Abolition of Man

      That sounds like an excellent idea! I can see the brilliance in that formula. Those couplets magnify each other in both cases giving a much richer meaning. In each case truth told in one is fleshed out in story form by the other.
      I think I will start recommending that very formula. Your kids likely will embrace the lessons more deeply. Thank you for this, Beth!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my favorite authors, not only has the Chronicles of Narnia been a family favorite in our home, just recently finished listening to The Pilgrims Regress on audible and it made me want to dig digger in my own walk. You can’t go wrong with any of His books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your review coins an interesting perspective. C.S. Lewis said he wrote it as a allegory of Christianity for a children of all ages audience.
      But as you said, people will see what they want to see in it.

      Liked by 1 person

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