What Accounts for the Powerful Spiritual Impact of C.S. Lewis? - page 3




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

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

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Along with that, Lewis had a commitment – I think any of you here, and a lot of you are writers, if you decide you’re going to write books or articles or anything, you have to decide what audience you’re going to write for. Lewis was an academician. He was a professor of literary history and criticism. He wrote a number of books that were for the colleagues in that academic discipline. His English Literature in the Sixteenth Century is still the standard work in that field. He did that, but he also made a choice to devote much of his time to writing books for ordinary people, intelligent people who had questions, whom he hoped could learn something about . . . In other words, he wrote to commit. He wanted things to get out to the general reader.

Lewis also was very keen on raising and seeking to answer the most difficult questions people come up with about faith. And all of us have tough questions. God, if You’re there, how do we explain this? God, if You are sovereign, why is this happening? And Lewis would wrestle with those questions.

Two more things I want to mention, and then I’m going to dig into some things on spiritual formation, because I’m pointing out things that certainly help explain his impact.

Lewis was a humble man. That humility is manifested in many levels. One is being willing to write books to the general readership when that very effort kept him from getting a professorship at Oxford, because people put him down; they called him a popularizer. I think some of them were jealous of him, but the point is that he did not get a professorship in his own alma mater. Cambridge gave that to him. Lewis was humbled in a lot of other ways. Some people said, “Well Lewis was a great man; he was a man of great faith,” and on and on. Yes he was. But more important, and I hope you’ll think on this, he’s what I’d call a ‘great God’ man. Lewis believed he had a great God. He knew he had a great God. He knew it wasn’t about him or his faith or his strength. He was serving a great God. That is a sign of humility.

Lewis was radically obedient to what God called him to do. He refused to fall into the trap of a lot of Christians: that if you obey God, you’ve fallen into legalism. No way! You fall into God, you show you love God. You obey Jesus. You show that you’re committed to Him. He’s in charge. You’re His servant.

Those are some of the things that I think we’ve looked at. You add to that the fact that Lewis had a first-rate mind. He had the privilege of growing up in a home of parents who bought him books. They loved books. He was surrounded by books. He read books all the time. He wrote books even as a child. He was in an environment that was phenomenal. He had that good mind that he was born with. He was well disciplined and had the best educational opportunities somebody could get in the early twentieth century in his part of the English-speaking world. His father got him to Mr. Kirkpatrick, “the Great Knock,” he called him, who was a first-rate tutor and toughened up his mind, but he also got two degrees at Oxford. He had advantages. And so he took advantage of those.


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