What Accounts for the Powerful Spiritual Impact of C.S. Lewis? - page 1




What Accounts for the
Powerful Spiritual Impact of C.S. Lewis?

by Lyle Dorsett,
Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School

BROADCAST TALKS presents ideas to cultivate Christ-like thinking and living. Each issue features a transcription of a talk presented at an event of The C. S. Lewis Institute. The following is adapted from the opening talk given at the 2016 C.S. Lewis Institute Summer Conference, The Spiritual Formation of C.S. Lewis, held at the Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College (IL). This talk, the first of six presented by Lyle Dorsett at the conference, explores why C.S. Lewis had, and continues to have, such a powerful spiritual impact on so many people. (The Wade Center is a major research collection of materials by and about seven British authors including C.S. Lewis).

s you stand back, as I travel around, as I talk to people, the impact of C.S. Lewis is everywhere. Some of the most powerful Christians in this country and other parts of the world came to Christ through the impact of C.S. Lewis. I think ‌of Chuck Colson. I think of Rebecca Pippert, Helen Joy Davidman, and of course, Os Guinness, all kinds of people. The list goes on and on.

C.S. Lewis’s books have been extremely important to me. Lewis’s and Chesterton’s writings were instrumental in my conversion from agnosticism to the Christian faith. And certainly Lewis has been one of my best teachers over the years on so many things. I didn’t really know anything about spiritual warfare until I read The Screwtape Letters. I’d never read anything very sophisticated on miracles until I read Miracles, and on and on the list goes. I can’t wait to meet him and thank him.

I have a habit – it’s become kind of a professional habit – that if there’s an author who has really blessed me or influenced me, I like to know what’s made that person tick. I want to know how that person matured spiritually. Lewis has had such a profound impact on me that I wanted to know how he grew in the faith. One thing that I have found rather, frankly, tedious is reading biographies that show you little Jack, as Lewis was known to his friends, growing up with his brother Warnie, the devastating time with Mom when she died, how they fall into agnosticism if not atheism, and then they convert, and all of a sudden C.S. Lewis is this powerful Christian who’s writing all these great books that are changing the world. Well, that’s an interesting picture, but it’s just not very valid, because the truth is that Christians are birthed into the kingdom, and they have to grow just like children do. They’re birthed, they have to be nurtured, they have to grow, and the thing that I wanted to know more than anything but couldn’t find much about – you’d get hints here and there in books – I wanted to know how this man went from his new birth in Christ into becoming the kind of soul that could have such an impact on so many people. That was the burning desire in my heart.


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