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Discovering C.S. Lewis

Video from Desiring God

Have you read any books by C.S. Lewis?

“Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement.

Lewis wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. C. S. Lewis’s most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics in The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.” From the Official C.S. Lewis Website.

Photo of C.S.Lewis in study

Seventy years ago, a little girl walked through a wardrobe into a land called Narnia. Little girls and boys have been trying to find their way there ever since The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, was published in October 1950.

I still have the two volume set I purchased back in 1973 of The Chronicles of Narnia. I fell in love with Narnia in a difficult time in my youth. At the same time I had discovered The Lord of the Rings, it was a delightful escape to be in both countries.

Lewis once said:

The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us. Of course, it will be so only so long as we keep the impulse pure and disinterested."

In describing himself he said: "I'm tall, fat, rather bald, red-faced, double-chinned, black-haired, have a deep voice, and wear glasses for reading," Clive Staples Lewis wrote to a young admirer in 1954. His contemporaries would add his trousers were usually in dire need of pressing, his jackets threadbare, with blemishes and snags, food spots, and his shoes scuffed and worn at the heels.

C.S. Lewis had a way of explaining our pilgrimage through this life that was unlike any other.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Lewis explains, “Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy [our desire], but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”

So our dissatisfaction has a purpose as it points to “the real thing” we desire. We should naturally be discontent with earthly pleasures. If they’re satisfying us, then we’re far too easily pleased. The problem of our discontent is we believe earthly things solve our inner desires and passions. We begin to covet what God has given others, and we become ungrateful and resentful for his provision in our own lives.

C. S. Lewis was not a trained biblical scholar, but he was an expert reader of literature and other genres. Well before modern scholarship confirmed the historical accuracy of the Gospels, Lewis had already concluded that the Jesus of the Gospels and the “historical Jesus” were one and the same.

Lewis explains the Gospels are biographies grounded in real, down-to-earth details. Jesus emerges from the Gospels with a reality that surpasses all other figures in the ancient world. When we read the Gospels, we know Jesus in an intimate way that we do not know anyone else before the modern period.

Regarding myth and his mythic works of fantasy he said: “We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. If God chooses to be mythopoeic . . . shall we refuse to be mythopathic?”

Myths work because there is a residue of truth in them—-not historic facts but truth about reality. (In his novel Perelandra he says myth “gleams of celestial beauty falling on a jungle of filth and imbecility.”) The biblical story of Jesus and his gospel contains the convergence of the radiance of the mythopoeic with the glorious radiance of fact! Finally the one true “myth,” the myth that is not fiction. Lewis writes: “For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: Perfect Myth and Perfect Fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher”.

All of us know as does the Christian scholar and philosopher that the facts of the gospel go much deeper than just the intellect? We comprehend the facts of the gospel with our minds, but we receive them with our hearts because the Spirit has freed our hearts to receive them as true and to receive Christ as The Truth.

Lewis helps us to see how wondrous our real God and Savior is and how utterly and eternally glorious. C.S. Lewis in his literary and scholarly works helps us look at God and to deepen our enjoyment of the true story of his Son’s resurrection, the defeat of evil, and him reigning forevermore. Nothing is wasted then under God’s sovereign rule of the universe!

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