C.S. Lewis is perhaps the most recognized name in all of Christian literature. His fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, is beloved by children and adults the world over. His essays, like Mere Christianity and The Four Loves, are still observed by theologians to this day. He could be witty, charming, intelligent, and somber, sometimes all on the same page. And as we approach the anniversary of his death (November 22, 1963), many Christians are looking back on the life of C.S. Lewis to rediscover the power that lay in his words.
Anyone who has read Lewis’ work knows a passage that touched them personally, or inspired them on a spiritual level. Relevant Magazine’s own Tyler Huckabee recently published an article listing 10 of Lewis’ most progressive quotes. These lines range from fiction to essays, encompassing all corners of Lewis’ written work.
- The Four Loves - To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
- The Last Battle - All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
Despite these insightful words, Lewis is still held with notoriety by some. Given his popularity, some critics are skeptical of Lewis’ work, believing Christian readers see only what they want to see in his writings. Others have criticized his education, citing the fact that Lewis was not a theologian, nor did he study to be one. Stanley Ward, in his article Why Bother with C.S. Lewis, argues this factor is what made Lewis such a wise and compelling writer. In the paragraph below he states,
“While a well-known apologist and well-educated Christian thinker, he was not a professional theologian. His formal education was not in theology, and he did not write for other theology academics. Therefore, while he asked smart questions and provided smart answers, he was not writing about the theological minutiae that only academics would consider. Rather, he elucidated "mere Christianity." He attempted to make foundational concepts clear through both philosophical argument and lively illustrations. In fact, part of what makes reading Lewis so enjoyable is that his illustrations often are his arguments.”
Wherever you stand on C.S Lewis and his writing, his impact on modern Christianity cannot be denied. Though not a theologian, his writings irrevocably changed and influenced the Church as well as the lives of many individual Christians. So this November 22, consider picking up one of Lewis essays or children’s stories. If nothing else, Lewis taught readers the wonder of mere Christianity.
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com