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The Real C.S. Lewis


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Title: The Real C.S. Lewis

LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church
The Real C.S. Lewis His Life and Writings
Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity Youll
never get to the bottom of him. J.R.R. Tolkien
Paulo F. Ribeiro MBA, PhD, PE, IEEE Fellow
March 7, 2004, AD Grand Rapids
  • The joy of the Lord is our strength. Neh. 810
  • The Apologist's Evening PrayerFrom all my lame
    defeats and oh! much moreFrom all the victories
    that I seemed to scoreFrom cleverness shot
    forth on Thy behalfAt which, while angels weep,
    the audience laughFrom all my proofs of Thy
    divinity,Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver
    me.Thoughts are but coins.  Let me not trust,
    insteadof Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy
    head.From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts
    of Thee,O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me
    free.Lord of the narrow gate and needle's
    eye,Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.
  • Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal
    contact between embryonic, incomplete persons
    (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person.
    Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for
    things, is a small part of it confession and
    penitence are its threshold, adoration its
    sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment
    of God its wine. In it God shows himself to us.
    That He answers prayers is a corollarynot
    necessarily the most important one. What He does
    is learned from what He is.

Introductory Words Thanks for the
opportunity Presentation Brazilian Style
Audience Participation Talking Points, Share
our insights Why Lewis The most important
Christian writer of the 20th century. A man who
has had, and is having, a profound effect on this
world. Lewis wrote about many different subjects
with a truly integrated Christian Perspective
(theology, politics, education, English
literature, childrens stories, science fiction,
etc.) The Pubs went silent. Politics crime,
obscenity, capital punishment, conscription,
communism, fascism, socialism, war, vivisection,
the welfare state, the atomic bomb, tyranny,
"The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment" has had
had on theories of punishment. The prevailing
idea was that prisoners were sick people who
needed therapy--and that included all the
techniques that modern psychology and technology
could bring to bear to achieve behavioral modifica
tion. Sentences were open-ended, and the
prisoner was not released until he was "cured.
Lewis objected strenuously. Prisoners, he said,
need to be punished, not "cured" in that sense.
The sentence must be fixed, so that the prisoner
knows at least the approximate date of his
release. Treating the prisoner as a patient robs
him of his dignity and constitutes an unwarranted
assault on his personality and character.
Introductory Words Born in Belfast in 1898.
Educated in England (prep school then at Malvern
College and finally by a private tutor. Inlisted
in the army in 1917, saw front-line combat and
was wounded in France. Returned to his studies
after the war, graduated in 1922 and became a
fellow of Magdalen college in 1925. An atheist
in his boyhood, Lewis converted to Christianity
in 1931 and became famous as a result of his
wartime religious talks on the BBC, and his
children's books. Lewis was part of the Oxford
literary circle known as the Inklings, whose
members also included J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles
Williams. Married Joy Davidman Gresham in 1957,
an American with whom he had corresponded for a
number of years. Died on November the 22nd 1963,
the same day that John F. Kennedy was
assassinated in Dallas.
". . . when I can swim or play soccer no
longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country,
or shot over the edge of the world in some vast
cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the
sunrise. . . ." --Reepicheep, in The Voyage of
the Dawn Treader
Introductory Words I discovered C.S. Lewis when
in college. Since then I have read and re-read
almost everything he wrote. He has had a
tremendous influence on me in several ways (just
ask my wife). She says too much! -He has
helped to overcome chronological snobbery and the
temptation to be relevant. -He has helped me to
think more objectively by his rigorous, precise,
penetrating logic, vivid, lively, and playful
imagination. -He has helped me to have a better
sense of the real world. -He shows my
insensitivity and inability to enjoy God's daily
gifts. -He always points me to the ultimate
source of Joy Christ. -His theology may not be
perfect, but the practice was exemplary. Among
the books I have read and enjoyed with much
profit are Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters,
The Problem of Pain, The Abolition of Man,
Miracles, Pilgrim's Regress, Poems, Letters to an
American Lady, Letters of C.S. Lewis, The Narnia
books, Out of the Silent Planet, That Hideous
Strength, Experiment in Criticism, God in the
Dock, The Four Loves, The Weight of Glory, and
everything else.
"The Christians are right it is Pride that has
been the chief cause of misery in every nation
and every family since the world began. Other
vices may sometimes bring people together you
may find good fellowship and jokes and
friendliness among drunken people or unchaste
people. But Pride always means enmity - it is
enmity. And not only enmity between man and man,
but enmity to God. Mere Christianity
Introductory Words I relate to C.S. Lewis'
story in Surprised by Joy in many respects the
experiences of the painful, melancholy, yet
"joyful" yearnings (he calls sehnsucht).
Although the scenery was very different
tropical ocean, samba, soccer there is no sin
on the south side of the equator, I still
suffered from the stabs of joy there was an
immediate connection. Several years later I
found myself not far away from the land of Narnia
(PhD at University of Manchester 1982-1985). I
became a freak (according to my children)
house, cars, everything-Lewis-Narnia . Is this
an American thing? Then I am glad to be an
At present we are on the outside of the world,
the wrong side of the door. We discern the
freshness and purity of morning, but they do not
make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the
splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New
Testament are rustling with the rumor that it
will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we
shall get in.
The Man C. S. Lewis never claimed to be a
theologian. He approached Christianity from a
very intellectual, academic, and honest way not
theological. His Beliefs Mere Christianity is
the core set of beliefs held by the majority of
Christians throughout the ages. He believed that
Jesus was literally born of a virgin, crucified,
buried, and that He physically rose again never
to die again. Mere Christianity teaches the
doctrine of the Trinity that Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost are all three God, and that God is
one. C. S. Lewis tried to demonstrate that the
supernatural does exist and that miracles did
occur. Mere Christianity teaches that Christ died
for our sins, that He was resurrected to prove
that He conquered death and that to receive
forgiveness of sin one must respond in faith to
Him. The Themes C. S. Lewis struggled with in
his own life and subsequently addressed in his
writings the problem of suffering and pain, the
existence of the supernatural or the miraculous,
and how Christianity is the only world-view that
consistently explains the nature of man and the

Interesting facts about Lewis Accent Oxford
with an Irish tinge Voice 1 Voice 2 Voice
3 Number of books sold Breath of subjects
. 1947 Time Magazine article Declined honors
from Winston Churchill Adored In America (all
over the world, we are working in Brazil ) What
about Lewiss reputation in the UK? Sharing
The Many Sides of Lewis Lewis, the
distinguished Oxford literary scholar and critic
Lewis, the highly acclaimed author of science
fiction and children's literature Lewis, the
popular writer and broadcaster of Christian
apologetics, the Knight of Orthodox Christianity
(Champion of Mere Christianity) Lewis, the
soldier and faithful friend (from Arthur Grieves
to Tolkien) Lewis, the masterful teacher and
tutor Lewis, the private man and with family
problems (Father, Warren, Mrs. Moore) Lewis, the
romantic yet rationalist (Baptized
imagination) Lewis, the thoroughly converted man
(The Pilgrims Regress) Lewis, surprised by
marriage (the Joy of his life) Lewis, the
aggressive debater and humble/gentle man
Lewiss Appeal invitation to meditation natural
point of contact with the longing that this
generation naturally feels. avoids the technical
jargon of the theologians.. Allow me to
illustrate the power of the apologetics of
longing with a testimony. A few years ago I
introduced CS Lewis to an engineer in Virginia.
I presented him a copy of Mere Christianity. .
After several months after reacting against some
of the statements he came to me and said, I in
the hall, Paulo . In another case, I presented
a copy of the same book to a Brazilian Professor
(nominal catholic) . Two months later, he could
not control his excitement he told me that he
had introduced Lewis to another friend who was
seriously looking for some spiritual answers.
Interdenominational Appeal Almost Reformed I
believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun
has risen, not only because I see it but because
by it I see everything else. "From this
buoyant humility, this farewell to the self with
all its good resolutions, anxiety, scruples, and
motive scratchings, all the Protestant doctrines
originally sprang. For it must be clearly
understood that they were at first doctrines not
of terror but of joy and hope indeed, more than
hope, fruition, for as Tyndale says, the
converted man is already tasting eternal life.
The doctrine of predestination, says the
Seventeenth Article, is full of sweet, pleasant
and unspeakable comfort to godly persons.' . . .
Relief and buoyancy are the characteristic notes.
Interdenominational Appeal Lewis on Calvinists
and Puritans "Whatever they were, they were not
sour, gloomy, or severe nor did their enemies
bring any such charge against them. On the
contrary .... Calvinism was not too grim, but too
glad, to be true. It sprang from the refusal to
allow the Roman distinction between the life of
religion and the life of the world. Calvin's
picture of the Christian was less hostile to
pleasure, but then Calvin demanded that every man
should be made to live the fully Christian
life. This will at least serve to eliminate the
absurd idea that Elizabethan Calvinists were
somehow grotesque, elderly people, standing
outside the main forward current of life. In
their own day they were, of course, the very
latest thing. Unless we can imagine the
freshness, the audacity and the fashionableness
of Calvinism, we shall get out whole picture
wrong. It was a creed of progressives, even
The Formation of a Liberal and Orthodox
Mind Born into a bookish family of Protestants
in Belfast, Ireland. "There were books in the
study, books in the dining room, books in the
cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase
on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled
as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic,
books of all kinds," A Life of Problems and
Moments of Delight (Joy) Lewis mother's death
from cancer came just three months before Jack's
tenth birthday, and the young man was hurt deeply
by her passing. On top of that, his father never
fully recovered from her death, and both boys
felt increasingly estranged from him home life
was never warm and satisfying again. Transition
From Christianity to Atheism His mother's death
convinced young Jack that the God he encountered
in the Bible his mother gave him didn't always
answer prayers. This early doubt, coupled with an
unduly harsh, self-directed spiritual regimen and
the influence of a mildly occultist boarding
school matron a few years later, caused Lewis to
reject Christianity and become an avowed atheist.
University Life Lewis entered Oxford in 1917 as
a student and never really left. "The place has
surpassed my wildest dreams," he wrote to his
father after spending his first day there. "I
never saw anything so beautiful." Despite an
interruption to fight in World War I (in which he
was wounded by a bursting shell), he always
maintained his home and friends in Oxford.
The Search For Joy - The Unifying Theme of C.S.
Lewis Life The Search for the
inexpressible "In speaking of this desire for our
own far-off country, . . . I feel a certain
shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I
am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in
each one of you - the secret which hurts so much
that you take your revenge on it by calling it
names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and
Adolescence the secret also which pierces with
such sweetness that when, in very intimate
conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent,
we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves
the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though
we desire to do both . . . " It was not until
his Christian Conversion that Lewis understood
what he was seeking Lewis found joy in Greek and
Nordic Mythology, Music, Literature, Nature,
Surprised by Joy
Lewis calls "the shape of my early
life." Summary Less an autobiography more an
account of his religious ups and downs from
childhood From an almost lack of religion in his
early experience ... Of his hectic efforts in
boarding school to create a satisfying spiritual
realization Of his retreat into atheism .. The
long and painful return through nature,
spiritualism and philosophy to Theism and finally
to Christianity.
The Development of a Tough And Holistic Christian
  • The Chronology
  • The First Years - Born to Nine
  • Born on November 29, 1898 at Belfast
  • Father, Albert James Lewis, was a lawyer and
    mother, Flora Augusta Hamilton Lewis, a
    descendent of clergymen, lawyers, and sailors.
  • Father - sentiment and passion
  • Mother irony, coolness and the capacity for
  • Lewis description of his father not very
  • Lewis's mother died before he was ten, but she
    had already started him in French and Latin.

  • Surprised By Joy
  • Lewis and his brother (three years older) were
    left alone in a large house and spent endless
    hours in their respective imaginative worlds of
    Animal-Land and India
  • Lewis learned Sehnsucht (sen-zart), - longing
    from looking out of the nursery windows, but
    there were not genuine religious experiences.
  • The house was rich in books and the brothers read
    widely. They lived almost in their imagination.
  • One day the young Lewis stood beside a currant
    bush in flower there suddenly and mysteriously
    arose in him "as if from a depth not of years but
    centuries" the memory of an earlier happy
    morning. Though it happened in an instant of
    time, he felt that "in a certain sense everything
    else that had ever happened tome was
    insignificant in comparison.
  • It was the beginning of his search for joy.

  • Surprised by Joy
  • At ten, Lewis was sent to school in hated
    England. Under the tutelage of Oldie, who flogged
    his boys with and without excuse but taught them
    to think logically.
  • At twelve, he went to Campbell College, not far
    from the Lewis home in Ireland, but his stay was
    cut short by illness which gave him happy weeks
    on his own.
  • From 13 to 15 he was back in England at a small
    prep school he calls Charters. Here at last he
    began to love the English countryside, but here
    he also lost his faith, and his simplicity.
  • Other things which led him to atheism were the
    occultism imparted to him by a matron at the
    school, a natural pessimism, and particularly the
    reading of H.G. Wells, and Sir Robert Ball.
  • At fifteen he won the classic scholarship to
    "Wyvern" College, located in the same English
    town as Charters.

Arthur Greeves
  • Surprised by Joy
  • Though Lewis's brother had attended Wyvern and
    liked it, he himself concluded that this school,
    like most other such college in England, produced
    not the understanding and fraternal man described
    in its catalogue but rather a "bitter, truculent,
    skeptical, debunking, and cynical intelligentsia"
    dominated by social struggle and priggishness.
  • One of the few valuable assets of Wyvern was
    Smewgy, a hard but ourteous teacher and taught
    his boys to be scholars without being pedants.
  • In religion Lewis at this time suffered the
    conflict, as he says, of maintaining that God did
    not exist and being angry with him for not
  • Lewis prepared for university entrance under the
    tutorship of a tall, lean shabbily dressed but
    ruthlessly dialectical man named W.T. Kirkpatrick
    in Surrey. He found this the happiest period of
    his life.
  • He read abundantly in literature of all sorts,
    including much of Homer and other Greek authors
    in the original. His atheism was strengthened.

Surprised by Joy Lewis had been living two
lives. One was filled with the bustle of
ordinary pleasures and miseries while the other
was secret, imaginative, and full of longing for
Joy. During his illness while at Campbell he had
first found delight in fairy tales and fallen
under the spell of dwarfs. Northerners and Norse
mythology became part of his life Under Smewgy he
had indirectly discovered not more Northerners
but the power and fire of Mediterranean myth.
And of course there was plenty of King Arthur and
early Britain. Joy, "that central music in every
experience," pressed its illimitable claims upon
him and spread its glory in unbearable waves to
the roots of his being. Yet the time came when
Joy disappeared and the memory of it teased
him. Meanwhile his atheism grew bolder and
Christianity came to mean ugly architecture, ugly
music, and bad poetry, and God a great
transcendental Interferer. He wanted to tell God
and every body else that his innermost being was
marked No Admittance.
  • Surprised by Joy
  • At this time he says he was made up of two
    separate elements one the longing for Joy, the
    other a fixed and certain belief in scientific
  • Then he discovered in Yeats and other men who
    while disbelieving Christianity yet thought there
    was a world behind, or around the material world,
    and he was temporarily persuaded to believe in
    magic and occultism.
  • It was at this point that he, like Browning with
    his Old Yellow Book, came upon a soiled copy of
    George Macdonald's Phantastes in a bookstall.
  • Browning's description of his own transport over
    his discovery applies equally well to Lewis as he
    sat down to read
  • A spirit laughs and leaps through every limb,
  • And lights my eyes, and lifts me by the hair.

  • Surprised by Joy
  • Alongside the romantic elements in the novel,
    Lewis found something new, a bright shadow that
    he later discovered to be the voice of holiness.
  • It was as though the voice which had called to me
    in the room, or in my body, or behind me. If it
    had once eluded me by its distance, it eluded me
    by proximity - something too near to see, too
    plain to be understood, on this side of
  • Always in the past Joy had been separate from the
    ordinary world in Macdonald he found, to his
    surprise, that the bright shadow transformed all
    common things while itself remained unchanged.
  • His imagination was baptized. It was the
    beginning of the road back.
  • In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I
    did not know what I was letting myself in for. A
    young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist
    cannot be too careful of his reading. . . . God
    is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.

  • Surprised by Joy
  • At 18 he took the scholarship examination
  • for Oxford and was elected. But a war
  • was in progress, and the day he was
  • nineteen he found himself in the front-line
    trenches in France.
  • A brief illness gave him three weeks in an army
    hospital where he first began to read G.K.
    Chesterton and loved him in spite of his
    religious element.
  • He was wounded in April by a British shell
    falling short of its German target.
  • In January 1919 he was discharged from military
  • He ridicules his experience of taking sixty
    German prisoners of war what happened, he says
    is that they simply appeared with their hands up
    and ready to surrender.

  • Surprised by Joy
  • Back at Oxford, he began to make friends who were
    to influence his future.
  • Owen Barfield, an anthropologist, who became
    Lewis's "anti-self" and with whom he argued night
    after night and on long walks. He found the new
    friends to be man of high principles.
  • Just when the New Psychology was causing him to
    doubt his whole experience of Joy, some of his
    closest friends began to turn Christian.
  • With Barfield in particular he debated violently
    and learned much. It was he who destroyed forever
    in Lewis the easy belief in "chronological

  • Surprised by Joy
  • He also convinced Lewis that abstract thought can
    give indisputable truth and is therefore a
    different sort of from experience of the senses.
  • Finally Lewis was forced to conclude that logic
    itself participated in a cosmic Logos. He also
    became convinced of a cosmic Absolute but did not
    assume it would ever get personal.
  • Lewis was twenty-three when he finishes Greats
    and, because he could find no position, decided
    to remain for a fourth year at Oxford.
  • Almost immediately he was drawn to a brilliant
    young man named Nevil Coghill and was shocked to
    discover him a Christian and thoroughgoing

Magdalene College
  • Surprised by Joy
  • At the same time it dawned on him that
  • all the authors on whom he could really
  • feed (Macdonald, Chesterton, Dr. Johnson,
  • Spencer, Milton) saw things through
  • Christian eyes.
  • Even the most religious of the Pagans (Plato,
    Virgil...) had some of the same quality.
  • They had roughness and density of life.
  • He still thought Christianity only a myth, a good
    philosophical framework on which to hang Absolute
  • He became a temporary lecturer for a year and was
    then elected a Fellow of Magdalene College in
    1925, when he was 26 years old.

  • Surprised by Joy
  • Christians now began to appear all around him -
    men like Dyson, Tolkien ..
  • He re-read Euripides' Hippolytus and Joy returned
    to his heart.
  • On the intellectual side he read Alexander's
    Space, Time and Diet and learned that all
    important principle that we do not think a
    thought in the same sense in which we think
    Herodotus is unreliable.
  • A thought is not simply a thing inside one's head
    and isolated from its object.
  • Introspection can only find what is left behind
    and cannot operate while the original thought
  • It is a terrible error to mistake the track left
    behind for the thing itself.

The Trout Inn
  • Surprised by Joy
  • Immediately Lewis knew he was looking in the
  • wrong place to find Joy he had sought, that his
  • hope to find some mental content on which he
  • could lay his finger was wholly futile, for this
    was and would always be simply the "mental track
    left by the passage of Joy."
  • Not only must joy look to its object, but a
    desire owes all its character to its object, for
    the object is the very thing which makes it
  • He had always been wrong in thinking that he
    desired Joy itself.
  • All the value lay in that of which Joy was the
    desiring," an object clearly outside both his
    mind and body.

  • Surprised by Joy
  • Now teaching philosophy at Oxford, Lewis began to
    have real troubles with the Absolute.
  • He lectured on a philosophical "God" but
    distinguished it from "the God of popular
    religion" and insisted that there could be no
    personal relation with Him.
  • But now two hard blows struck him.
  • He read G.K. Chesterton's Everlasting Man and was
    shaken by its theistic rationale.
  • Shortly afterwards the toughest of all the
    atheists he had known sat beside the fire in
    Lewis's room and said, "Rum thing. All that
    stuff about the Dying God. It almost looks as
    if it had really happened once."

  • Surprised by Joy
  • Lewis thought that nobody could be safe from God
    if this man were not.
  • There followed a time in which all the strands
    steadily platted themselves into an invincible
    whole in which Lewis's inner being. It seemed to
    him that God was surely after him as a cat
    searching for a mouse.
  • You must picture me, he says, alone in that room
    in Magdalene, night after night, feeling whenever
    mind lifted even for a second from work, the
    steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I
    earnestly desire not to meet. That which I
    greatly feared had at last come upon me.
  • It was in the Trinity Term of 1929 that he
    capitulated. As he knelt down in prayer and
    admitted that God was God, he felt himself the
    most dejected and reluctant convert in all

Surprised by Joy
This walk in the grounds of Magdalen College was
the site of a long conversation between Tolkien,
C.S.Lewis and Hugo Dyson, after which C.S.Lewis
became converted to Christianity.
That which I greatly feared had at last come upon
me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and
admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed
perhaps, that night, the most dejected and
reluctant convert in all England. I did not then
see what is now the most shining and obvious
thing the Divine humility which will accept a
convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at
least walked home on his own feet. But who can
duly adore that Love which will open the high
gates to prodigal who is brought in kicking,
struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in
every direction for a chance of escape?
  • Surprised by Joy
  • It was conversion to Theism only, not
    Christianity and not belief in a future life.
    They came later.
  • I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning.
    When we set out I did not believe that Jesus
    Christ is the son of God, and when I reached the
    zoo I did.
  • It was thus that the Hound of Heaven overtook
    and conquered his prey.
  • Shortly after Lewis died, Clyde Kilby wrote that
    Lewis was "a man who had won, inside and deep, a
    battle against pose, evasion, expedience, and the
    ever-so-little lie and who wished with all his
    heart to honor truth in every idea passing
    through his mind."
  • Almost forty years after Kilby's words have been
    very verified through the detailed scrutiny of
    Lewis's life and writings.

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Mere Christianity Book I - Right and Wrong as a
Clue to the Meaning of the Universe An
Engineering Perspective A Flow-Chart Approach
Mere Christianity
End of the Story
A Force/Power is a sort of a tame and
convenient God . An inconsistent Power
Do you believe in the existence of a Moral Law?
What Kind A Force (Power)?
End of the Story
Are you tricking me with a religious talk?
A God ?
Is there anything or anyone behind the Moral
We are trying to find truth and the meaning of
the universe.
End of the Story
Are you interested?
End of the Story
Mere Christianity
How can we find out more about the thing behind
the moral law and the meaning of the universe?
The Moral Law ells you to do the straight thing
and it does not seem to care how painful, or
dangerous, or difficult it is to do.
The Moral Law does not give us any grounds for
thinking that God is good in the sense of
being soft and nice.. The Moral Law is as hard as
nails. If God is like the Moral Law, then HE IS
Looking into the The Universe He Made
Looking inside ourselves, where He wrote the
moral laws
He is quite merciless. The universe is a very
dangerous place.
He is a great artist
Do you want to proceed? at your own risk?
But you cannot know a man by looking at the
house he built.
End of the Story
End of the Story
End of the Story
Mere Christianity
Is He an Impersonal Absolute Goodness ?
Is He a Personal absolute Goodness ?
If the universe is not governed by an absolute
goodness, then all our efforts are in the long
run hopeless.
Absolute Goodness is either the great safety or
the great danger - according to the way you
react to it. God is the only comfort and supreme
No exceptions, or allowances permitted.
Do you want to find out more about God
End of the Story
End of the Story
Christianity tells how the demands of the Moral
Law, which we cannot meet, have been met on our
behalf, how God Himself becomes man to save man
from the disapproval of God.
Have you broken the Moral Law? Do you think you
need Forgiveness?
Beginning of Chapter 1 of the Great Story
... Which goes on forever in which every chapter
is better than the one before.
End of the Story
Mere Christianity
My reason for going around in this way was that
Christianity simply does not make sense until you
have faced the sort of facts I have been
describing. Christianity tells people to repent
and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has
nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who
do not know they have done anything to repent of
and who do not feel they need any forgiveness.
It is after you have realized that there is a
Moral Law, the Power behind the law, and that you
have broken that law and put yourself wrong with
the Power - it is after all this, and not a
moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.
Mere Christianity
The Christian religion is, in the long run, a
thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not
begin with comfort it begins with dismay. In
religion, as in war and everything else, comfort
is the one thing you cannot get by looking for
it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort
in the end. If you look for comfort you will not
get either comfort or truth - only soap and
wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end
despair. All I am doing is to ask people to
face the facts - to understand the questions
which Christianity claims to answer.
Mere Christianity
The C.S. Lewis Catechism Q1. Why does man need
God? A1. Because God made man to run on God
Himself Q2. Why did God give free will to man
allowing evil to come into the picture? A2.
Because free will is the only thing that makes
possibly any love or goodness or joy worth
having. Q3. What did God do to restore / redeem
man? A3. God Himself becomes man to save man
from the disapproval of God. Q4. What is
formula of Christianity? A4. That Christ was
killed for us, that His death washed out our
sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself.
That is the formula. That is Christianity. That
is what has to be believed. Q1 - says in a less
elegant way what Augustine said 1500 years ago.
"Though hast created us for Thyself and our
hearts are restless until they find their rest in
you." Q2 - Lewis leaned more to the
semi-pelagian or Arminian side of things on free
will than he did of the classiscal reformers
(e.g. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin). They all would
agree on free will before he Fall, but Lewis held
to the idea of free will after the Fall. Re
point three, he seems to operate with the
Anselmina view of the atonement, which is held to
by Calvinists, Lutherans, and most evangelicals.
Mere Christianity
The C.S. Lewis Catechism Q5. Is salvation by
God's predestination or by human choice? A4. "I
was offered what now appears a moment of wholly
free choice. But I feel my decision was not so
important. I was the object rather than the
subject in this affair. I was decided upon... I
chose, yet it really did not seem possible to do
the opposite."
C.S. Lewis Making Pictures To forbid the making
of pictures about God would be to forbid thinking
a about God at all, for man is so made that he
has no way to think except in pictures. Dorothy
Sayers ". . . When people try to get rid of
man-like, or, as they are called,
'anthropomorphic,' images, they merely succeed in
substituting images of some other kinds. 'I don't
believe in a personal God,' says one, 'but I do
believe in a great spiritual force.' What he has
not noticed is that the word 'force' has let in
all sorts of images about winds and tides and
electricity and gravitation. 'I don't believe in
a personal God,' says another, 'but I do believe
we are all parts of one great Being which moves
and works through us all' -not noticing that he
has merely exchanged the image of a fatherly and
royal-looking man for the image of some widely
extended gas or fluid. A girl I knew was
brought up by 'higher thinking' parents to regard
God as perfect 'substance.' In later life she
realized that this had actually led her to think
of Him as something like a vast tapioca pudding.
(To make matters worse, she disliked tapioca.) We
may feel ourselves quite safe from this degree of
absurdity but we are mistaken. If a man watches
his own mind, I believe he will find that what
profess to be specially advanced or philosophic
conceptions of God, are, in his thinking, always
accompanied by vague images which, if inspected,
would turn out to be even more absurd than the
manlike images aroused by Christian theology.
Myth Lewis believed that Christian truth must
be defended with sound logic and philosophy. But
this apologetic needed to be explicated in order
that its meaning could be made clear to its
hearers. That is why he felt this could best be
accomplished through the proper use of myths. By
myth he did not mean legends and fairy tales but
a real unfocused gleam of truth falling on human
imagination. In his classic Experiment in
Criticism, a book on how to read a book, Lewis
lays out six characteristics of literature that
that make a myth 1. it is extra-literary , or
independent of the form of the words used 2.
the pleasure of myth depends hardly at all on
such unusual narrative attractions as suspense or
surprise 3. our sympathy with the character is
minimal 4. myth is always fantastic and deals
with impossibles and preternaturals 5. though
the experience may be sad or joyful , it always
is grave and never comic 6. the experience is
not only grave but awe inspiring. We feel it to
be numinous. It is as if something of great
moment has been communicated to us.
Myth From a theological perspective Lewis saw
true myths as memories or echoes of God Himself
and He left us with human imagination as their
receptor. He explained this relationship in
describing how he came to write the Narnia
Chronicles, as a mythological expression of the
Gospel story "It was he the imaginative man
who, after my conversion, led me to embody my
religious belief in symbolical or mythopoeic
form, ranging from Screwtape to a kind of
theological science fiction. And it was of course
he who has brought me, in the last few years, to
write the series of Narnian stories for children
not asking what children want and then
endeavoring to adapt myself (this was not needed)
but because the fairy tale was the genre best
fitted for what I wanted to say." Lewis
undertook the daunting task of awakening
modernity's deadened imagination to the eternal
realities by telling stories of worlds of fixed
moral order, serenity and blissfulness. He had
help from a few friends in understanding
imagination as a vehicle to convey the Reality
who stands behind and above the visible world.
"Be sure that the ins and outs of your
individuality are no mystery to Him and one day
they will no longer be a mystery to you. The
mould in which a key is made would be a strange
thing, if you had never seen a key and the key
itself a strange thing if you had never seen a
lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is
a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the
infinite contours of the divine substance, or a
key to unlock one of the doors in the house with
many mansions. For it is not humanity in the
abstract that is to be saved, but you--you, the
individual reader, John Stubbs or Janet Smith.
Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall
behold Him and not another's. All that you are,
sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have
His good way, to utter satisfaction.... God will
look to every soul like its first love because He
is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem
to be made for you and you alone, because you
were made for it--made for it stitch by stitch as
a glove is made for a hand."
"Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most
disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so
happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so
happy that you are tempted to feel His claims
upon you as an interruption, if you remember
yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and
praise, you will be--or so it feels--welcomed
with open arms. But go to Him when your need is
desperate, when all other help is vain, and what
do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a
sound of bolting and double bolting on the
inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn
away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the
silence will become. There are no lights in the
windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever
inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming
was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is
He so present a commander in our time of
prosperity and so very absent a help in time of
"For a good wife contains so many persons in
herself. What was H. not to me? She was my
daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher,
my subject and my sovereign and always, holding
all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend,
shipmate fellow-soldier. My mistress but at the
same time all that any man friend (and I have
good ones) has ever been to me. Perhaps more. If
we had never fallen in love we should have none
the less been always together, and created a
scandal. CS Lewis
He took in more, he felt more, he remember more,
he invented more His writings record an intense
awareness, a vigorous reaction, a taking of the
world into his heart His blacks and whites of
good and evil and his ecstasies and miseries were
the tokens of a capacity for experience beyond
our scope. Austin Farrer on C.S. Lewis
There was one candle on the coffin as it was
carried out into the churchyard. It seemed not
only appropriate but also a symbol of the man and
his integrity and absoluteness and his faith that
the flame burned so steadily, even in an open
air, and seemed so bright, even in the bright
sun. Peter Bayley at Lewiss funeral
Conclusion It is the way Lewis thoroughly
integrated his Christian faith into his scholarly
work that leaves the largest legacy and which has
impressed me and blessed me most. Lewis taught
me... how to long for God and seek true joy. How
to integrate a Christian worldview with my
vocation, my family life, and my inner self. If
go to Lewis for ultimate answers you will be
disappointed. In all his writings, Lewis tried to
point to Christ. The impact of Lewis on my life
has been great. He has challenged me to grow in
my faith so that Im not afraid to engage
spiritually and intellectually with a world
hostile to God. But above all he has taught me
that the power of the imagination is one of the
greatest tool we have to bridge the gap into the
secular mind. My tropical-Latin-culture- mind
found in Lewis a way to conciliate samba, soccer,
engineering, theology, joy which is consistent
with a Reformed worldview. Mr. Jack, e never
ad no idea of money. Is mind was always set on
igher things. Lewiss gardener Youll never
get to the bottom of him. JRR Tolkien
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