What Accounts for the Powerful Spiritual Impact of C.S. Lewis? - page 5

 

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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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Lewis said this: “The New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion.” A whale of a lot of evangelicals talk about “it’s me and Jesus. I don’t even need to go to church. I don’t like church, too many hypocrites in it. All I need is my Bible. I like ‘it’s me and Jesus.’” Lewis tears into that. He said, “The New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion.” We are grafted into the church when we’re baptized, Lewis believed.

And then a fifth area I’m going to look at is some of his spiritual friends and guides. You all are most familiar, I’m sure, with George MacDonald. Lewis said this: “I regard George MacDonald as my master. I fancy I’ve never written a book in which I did not quote him.” Let me read that again. That is something else. “I regard George MacDonald as my master. I fancy I’ve never written a book in which I did not quote him.” What a compliment. And George MacDonald was a prolific writer, as you know. He wrote forty to fifty novels. They’ve got it all right here at the Wade. He wasn’t a great novelist. Lewis said his stuff is not all that great. But it’s so rich in content. I read somewhere that Lewis thought that the most important novel he wrote was Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood. I teach at a divinity school, trying to help train up the next generation of clergy, and I tell all the men and women in my classes, “Read Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood if you want to know something about pastoral ministry, if you want to know what a real pastor is; how do pastors care for people?” Lewis is reading this stuff. And I’m going to submit to you this week that Lewis was a pastor. You can’t read hundreds and hundreds of his letters, where he was caring for the souls of other people very carefully, and not know, this man’s a pastor. He wasn’t ordained; he’d never attended seminary, but he was a pastor to many people. And I’m going to be talking about that and a number of other things.

Well, I’m going to begin now, and the purposiveness that’s involved in this man’s life is apparent and I’m not going to dwell on that, but I want to begin tonight and talk to you about prayer as one of these factors. We can’t understand the importance of prayer in Lewis’s life if we don’t go back to his childhood. Age nine. The year was 1908. His mother, Flora, had a hard case of cancer. She had a tumor in her abdomen. They lived in Ireland, outside of Belfast, and the surgeon came and performed surgery in the bedroom. Most of you know this if you’ve read much about Lewis. There were two people, one of them was family and the other a nurse or a housekeeper or somebody, who told young Jack and his brother Warnie, “If you guys pray with enough faith, if we all pray with enough faith, Mom’s going to be healed.” Jack said that he and Warnie prayed, they prayed, they prayed, other people prayed. They’d had quotations, you know, to them, Jesus’s words: “Whatsoever you ask” – Mark 11:24 – “Whatsoever you ask, believing that you shall receive, you shall obtain.” Well, Mom died. And the boys were devastated. Where was God? Was He not there? He sure didn’t answer this prayer. What’s this business with Jesus telling us to pray this way, and we’ll get this done? What’s going on? He was devastated, so was his brother. Their father, in the wake of their mother’s death, went into a spiritual and psychological dark night of the soul that he never emerged from. They were young boys and men who had not only lost their mother; they essentially lost their father, for all practical purposes.

 

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