Apologist (Defender of the Faith)


C.S.Lewis & Aslan

C.S.Lewis, author of the beloved 'Narnia Series' is one of my family's favorite authors. I read the books to my children, and we have all watched the movies when they came out. But he was far more than merely a wonderful author of children's books.

By the time C.S. Lewis received a scholarship to Oxford in 1916, Lewis had developed a fascination with mythology. World War I intruded on his studies. He served in the army and was wounded. Lewis graduated with 1st class honours, and by 1925 became a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, a position he held until 1954 when be became Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge. In Oxford, he developed a reputation both as a tutor and writer on late medieval literature and as one of a group of widely read and entertaining conversationalists and writers. He hung out with a particular group of friends known as the "Inklings" who included J.R.R.Tolkien (renowned for 'The Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings') and Charles Williams.

He had abandoned any Christian faith in his early teens. However, in 1930, his continuing interest in mythology and fantasy brought him in contact with George MacDonald, a writer of Christian fantasies. He talked things over with Tolkien, a devout Roman Catholic, and others. Then he read 'The Everlasting Man' by G.K. Chesterton, a convert to Roman Catholicism, and this eventually persuaded Lewis to abandon his atheism. By 1931, Lewis was an active member of the Church of England. C.S. Lewis then proceded to use his considerable skills for Christ and became a Christian apologist (a verbal defender of the Christian faith). His experience with myth, story-telling and allegory, together with his new-found Christian faith and his considerable ability as a writer and communicator made him one of the most popular defenders of the Christian faith in the 20th century.

Lewis's best known specifically apologetic works arose out of a series of articles he wrote and talks he gave, many of them during World War II. 'The Screwtape Letters'(1942) used the idea of letters from a senior devil (Screwtape) to a younger one on techniques that are useful in deceiving humans. Many of the talks given on the BBC were drawn together in Lewis's highly influential and very popular 'Mere Christianity' (1952). Some later talks appeared posthumously as 'God in the Dock' (1971).

Two autobiographical works were also Christian themed. In 'Surprised by Joy' (1955), Lewis tells of his own journey to and in Christianity, and in 'A Grief Observed' (1961) he offers a moving insight into the emotional journey associated with the death of a loved one (his wife). It has been widely read and appreciated by others. As have all his works. May he Rest in Peace in Aslan's Land.

BORN: 1898, Belfast, Ireland.

DIED: 22 November 1963, Oxford, England, U.K.