C.S. Lewis the Truth-Seeker: How God Formed a Great Christian Apologist - page 1


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From the Winter 2013 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

C.S. Lewis the Truth-Seeker:
How God Formed a Great Christian Apologist

by Joel S. Woodruff, Ed.D.
Vice President of Discipleship and Outreach, C.S. Lewis Institute

 

nlike the dramatic, instantaneous conversion of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, C.S. Lewis came to faith in Christ through a search for truth that journeyed through the twists, turns, and dead ends of a long, thirty-year maze characterized by varying worldviews, ideas, and religions. This quest involved both his intellect, which sought logical, sound answers to the questions of life, and his heart, which longed for something to fill the lonely void within. As Lewis explored each worldview along the way, he would be enamored by the approach, only to eventually recognize the weaknesses of the view and be disappointed by the conclusions of that particular ideology. It was this thoughtful, careful, Socratic-like search for life’s raison d’être that enabled Lewis to understand so deeply the world’s religions and philosophies and also articulate how these views paled in comparison to the ultimate truth found in Jesus Christ. In other words, God took Lewis’s pre-Christian wanderings in false religions and philosophy and redeemed those experiences, enabling Lewis to communicate the truths of biblical faith in ways that searching people could understand. After all, he had been there himself.
  In the preface (sometimes presented as an afterword) to the third edition of The Pilgrim’s Regress, an allegorical look at his own conversion, Lewis writes,

The sole merit I claim for this book is that it is written by one who has proved them [various worldviews] all to be wrong. There is no room for vanity in the claim: I know them to be wrong not by intelligence but by experiences, such experience as would not have come my way if my youth had been wiser, more virtuous, and less self-centred than it was. For I have myself been deluded by every one of these false answers in turn and have contemplated each of them earnestly enough to discover the cheat. To have embraced so many false Florimels is no matter for boasting: it is fools, they say, who learn by experience. But since they do at last learn, let a fool bring his experience into the common stock that wiser men profit by it..1

   Lewis had in a sense “dated” and been infatuated by a number of “Florimels,” damsels of great beauty who turned out to be illusions. By “dating” various worldviews, over time, Lewis developed deep insight into the ways in which a religion can at first appear attractive, only to lead to bitter disappointment when the honeymoon is over and the witch suddenly appears. It was this experience in the first thirty years of his life, before his conversion, that prepared him to become one of the greatest Christian apologists of the twentieth century.  

Raised in a Christian Home

  Lewis’s spiritual journey began within the confines of a home in which he experienced the love and security communicated to him by his mother, Flora, the daughter of an Anglican priest. Born in 1898, his early years afforded him great happiness. His mother read stories from the Bible, prayed with Lewis daily, and introduced him to the teachings of Christ. The family attended a Protestant church in Belfast, although they didn’t have any problem in hiring a Catholic maid, whom Lewis loved and who also told him Bible stories.

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