Those of us who love C.S. Lewis are always challenged by his famous quote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”1 If “by it” we see everything else, shouldn’t that change the way we talk about everything else?
If you’ve ever told someone that you’ve read something by C.S. Lewis or that you like his writing or have seen one of the Narnia movies, you may have found that many people have a positive view of him. Asking people what books they read might lead them to ask you about your reading choices.
Lately, I’ve had several opportunities to transition conversations about C.S. Lewis to discussions about God. I’ve found them to be fruitful; I hope they will be used by the Lord to have people consider life beyond the wardrobe.
Here are five suggested ways to transition from C.S.L. to J.C.
First, we can inform people that the same guy who wrote the Narnia books for children wrote religious books for adults. Many people don’t know this. (More copies of Lewis’s Narnia books have been sold than all of his other books combined!) People who have fond memories of a land that opened up from the back of a wardrobe might have fewer defenses than others about religion. They might be open to hear about God from the same writer who decades ago made their imaginations soar.
Second, I like to tell people that Lewis thought deeply about all of life, and so he helps me think more deeply about my life. Austin Farrar, a close friend of Lewis’s once said that he was the most thoroughly converted man he had ever met. This is no surprise once we learn how Lewis was trained rigorously for debate by his tutor, William Kirkpatrick, often called “the Great Knock.” Lewis had to defend every idea and conclusion he ever uttered to Kirkpatrick, thus honing skills of careful thought and precise expression. Any reader of Lewis’s nonfiction will recognize and appreciate the training he received. I tell people that Lewis has helped me reflect more deeply about my life, my family, my job, the world around me, and a million other topics. I sometimes ask people, who has shaped your thinking the most? It escalates the quality of the conversation significantly. I find that many people who rarely talk about things other than the weather, sports, or (Lord, have mercy!) politics are open to, even eager for, deeper conversation.
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