[This post is part of a series on C.S. Lewis.]
Last month, many in the Anglophone Christian world marked the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis's death. (Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley all died on November 22, 1963.) Though always aware that people of a certain age were deeply affected by President Kennedy's assassination, I was also struck by the voices of prominent Christians who spoke so personally, eloquently, and gratefully of Lewis's influence on their faith. In the wake of these mentions and remembrances of Lewis, I determined to give a fair hearing to his writings and his influence.
Growing up in church (conservative-to-moderate Mainline), I was vaguely aware of C.S. Lewis. However, I never read The Chronicles of Narnia -- I suspect I was a very unimaginative child. At one point around age 14, I remember owning a paperback copy of The Screwtape Letters, though I don't remember reading it. During my undergraduate years at Oklahoma Baptist University, there was a group on campus reading through The Problem of Pain. But again, I didn't participate.
Having somehow made it through a church-filled childhood and a Christian college without reading Lewis, it seemed the window of opportunity had closed. I left literal-Bible Christianity behind and never looked back. As time passed, I relegated Lewis in my mind to the "fundamentalist apologist" category, mostly because the only people I knew who talked about Lewis were people who spent a lot of time reading fundamentalist apologetics.
Yet my peripheral knowledge of Lewis and his work suggests that he is a cut above most bestselling Christian apologists when it comes to careful scholarship, rigorous thought, and seriousness that demands engagement. After a few conversations with friends who are conservative-but-not-fundamentalist evangelicals, I decided to investigate Lewis for myself. Now that I've started blogging (rationale here), it occurs to me that some of you may want to follow along.
Here's the thing: I don't fit the profile of the typical reader of Lewis. I don't have a set of historical, doctrinal, and supernatural beliefs relating to Christianity for which I'm seeking intellectual justification. Neither am I a skeptic would would be a believer if only I could be convinced. Rather, I'm a friend and fellow-traveler of liberal Protestantism curious to know why "my people" have generally ignored Lewis (at least by comparison to our more conservative friends). Does Lewis speak only to the sects of Christianity that have come to be considered orthodox? Or might he also have something to say to the rest of us?
Last week, I read a concise, fascinating commentary on Lewis's "case against scientism." I just bought Alister McGrath's new biography. I'd also like to read Samuel Joeckel's recent book on Lewis. And I'll read through some of Lewis's books. In the coming months, I'll publish a series of posts on Lewis for people wholly uninterested in fundamentalist apologetics. Follow me on Twitter so you can read along.
C.S. Lewis for Heretics
Part 1 -- Rationale
Part 2 -- Is Lewis Just for Conservatives?
Part 3 -- Biographical Discussion
Part 4 -- Mere Christianity
Part 5 -- Lewis and Scientism
Part 6 -- Lewis for the Rest of Us