One of my favorite present-day Christian philosophers Tom Morris had this to say about the writings of C. S. Lewis:
Clarity is power. This is one of the reasons that, for more than half a century, the immensely popular books and essays of C. S. Lewis have launched into the world a nearly steady stream of new Christian philosophers and intellectuals.1
Lewis’s book Mere Christianity was the first Christian book that I ever read. My sister gave it to me and it had a big impact upon me as a young believer. The book discussed essential Christian doctrine and values and it offered specific arguments for the truth of historic Christianity.
I remember being very impressed with the clarity of Lewis’s writing and struck by his crisp logical reasoning. I went on to read virtually all of Lewis’s theological and apologetics related books. And so, in part, I was motivated to study philosophy and Christian apologetics because of Lewis’s writings.
Morris also comments on the power and eloquence of Lewis’s writings in a way that matches how I felt, especially when I read Lewis for the first time.
As a college student, I recall finding in his books sentences of such insight, and unexpected phrases of such perfection, that I would just sit and stare at the words, thinking to myself, I wish I had been able to say it that way.2
There are many passages in Lewis’s writings that have made me feel exactly how Morris describes. Here’s just one example from Lewis that always makes me marvel:
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.3
I have indeed felt God speak to me in the three ways that Lewis describes. But it is one thing to recognize the insight that God speaks in these distinct ways, it is quite another thing to state this truth in such an eloquent and powerful way.
Of course, over the years I have come to disagree with some of Lewis’s own beliefs and views that are reflected in his writings. But my disagreements are always tempered with respect and affection because Lewis was one of my first teachers in the Christian faith and I owe him a debt of gratitude.
On a recent episode of my podcast Straight Thinking, biblical scholar Jack Collins of Covenant Seminary said that all Christians writing in the field of apologetics today owe a debt to C. S. Lewis (listen to that interview here: part 1 and part 2). I think Collins is right and thus I write this article to honor the unique Oxford don on the fiftieth anniversary of his death.
1. From Tom Morris’s foreword of C. S. Lewis as Philosopher, eds. David Baggett, Gary R. Habermas, and Jerry L. Walls (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008), 9.
3. C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 91.