Clive Staples Lewis, better known as C.S. Lewis, died on November 22nd, 1963 just a week shy of his 65th birthday. While it’s been decades since his passing, his work and life’s legacy still lives on today. Lewis, a British writer and theologian, is best known for his works of fiction like “The Screwtape Letters”, but also for his Christian apologetic texts like “Mere Christianity.” These documents have helped shape how people world Christianity.
Lewis wrote more than 30 books which have been translated into more than 40 languages, selling millions of copies worldwide. The seven books that make up his series “The Chronicles of Narnia” which were first published more than 60 years ago, have sold the most at an estimated 150 million copies. It has sense gone on to have become popularized on stage, TV and radio. When they were adapted into three films, they generated a total of $1.5 billion at the box office. Until Harry Potter came around, the series was voted the most influential of children’s books in the world. Since 2001, “Mere Christianity” has sold 3 million copies while “The Screwtape Letters” have sold 2 million.
It’s hard to argue that any others that lived around the time Lewis did left as strong of an impression as he was able to. Lewis gave us a clear indication of what it means to be a Christian that can be easily adapted into today’s modern world. Here are some of the many reasons that we are still inspired by C.S. Lewis.
C.S. Lewis taught us how to communicate.
C.S. Lewis was able to touch the lives of so many different people because he was able to meet them where they were. Lewis was an intellect with creativity, allowing him to be a strong theologian but also a poet, children’s writer and writer of science fiction. This means he was able to communicate with different audiences with different levels of intelligence. He could use his creative mind to effectively communicate theological truths and concepts through the use of pictures, analogies, and other simpler things people could understand. He helped to break down the blocks to understanding Christianity as a whole. As Lewis noted, “Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence...He wants a child’s heart, but a grown up’s head.”
C.S. Lewis showed us how to empathize.
In addition to his intelligence, Lewis was able to connect with people on a personal level. Lewis went through his own suffering as a child and also faced doubt in God. This enabled him to empathize with those who found it difficult to believe in God, because he too faced those issues at one point. Lewis lost his mother at the age of 10, had to fight in the World War I (in which he lost his best friend), and hated school. It might be a shock for many to know he was an atheist as a teenager, and didn’t find God until 1929 after extreme reluctance.
C.S. Lewis tells us how to defend Christianity.
Being an atheist as a teen helped C.S. Lewis later in life, because he understood all the arguments that atheist would make against the Lord and Christianity. He was able to communicate and defend the entire gospel to a popular audience of millions in his famous wartime radio broadcasts between 1941 and 1944. Around 50 percent of the people that tuned into his radio were nonbelievers, which shows just how great Lewis’ persuasion and communication techniques were. Even if people didn’t want to convert, they still tuned in to listen to what he had to say.
In his book “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis writes, “Ever since I became a Christian, I have thought that perhaps the best, perhaps the only service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief.” He was so successful in doing so that he earned the nickname “the Apostle to the skeptics” in the 1940s. Lewis wouldn’t only tackle the basic issues of good vs. evil, but would dive into the more hard-hitting questions of modern science and the supernatural.
C.S. Lewis’ work spans denominations.
C.S. Lewis was raised in a church-going family in the Church of Ireland, so he was acquainted with the faith at an early age. Lewis's return to the Christian faith was influenced by the works of George MacDonald, arguments with his Oxford colleague and friend J. R. R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man". During this time, Lewis said to consider himself entirely orthodox Anglican. However, Lewis' works have become extremely popular among evangelicals and Catholics. Billy Graham, who Lewis met in 1955, said he “found him to be not only intelligent and witty but also gentle and gracious.” The late Pope John Paul II said Lewis's "The Four Loves" was one of his favorite books. His works remind us that though there are many different denominations today, we still can come together under the veil of Christ.
C.S. Lewis brought reason back to Christianity.
By presenting a defense of the Christian faith that appealed to reason, Lewis removed obstacles to faith that most people in our world face today.Lewis showed how Christianity could appeal to those earnestly seeking answers to the great questions of life. He was able to puncture the pomposity and the pretension of modern elite intellectuals and challenge them with new, fresh ideas. For example, he reasoned that Christian imagination was vital to the faith so that we could learn more about God's truth. When we limit ourselves to science, we can't see Christianity in unique ways.
C.S. Lewis was quiet popular when he was alive, but it’s hard to argue that he isn’t more well-known now. His books have crossed over from country to country, generation to generation, and church to church. They are used even still today to help spread the Word of God in a way people can understand and relate too. By learning about C.S. Lewis, we are choosing to learn how we too can better teach others about Christ.