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C.S. Lewis' Obstacles to Faith

This is an excerpt from the book C.S. Lewis’s Case for Christ (IVP – 2005) by Art Lindsley. It presents some of the obstacles that led to Lewis’s unbelief and points to some of his later writing that show how he overcame those difficulties. The subsequent chapters of Lindsley’s book deal one by one with how he wrestled with these obstacles.


Lewis had one sibling, Warren, who was three years older and with whom he remained friends all his life. Lewis’s earliest memories involve “endless books” in the study, dining room, cloakroom, bedrooms and piled as high as his shoulder in the attic. On the often-dreary days, time would be spent in reading and in imaginative games involving “dressed animals” and “knights in armor.” These were the subjects of Lewis’s first novel, Boxen, which he wrote at the age of twelve.

The most shattering event of Lewis’s early life was the death of his mother when he was nine years old. Lewis says in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, “With my mother’s death all settled happiness disappeared from my life. There was much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis.”1 At this point he lost not only his mother but also, in effect, his father. Albert Lewis became emotionally withdrawn and decided to send both sons to boarding school, an experience that proved very difficult for both boys. Warren Lewis later wrote, “With his uncanny flair for making the wrong decision, my father had given us helpless children into the hands of a madman.”2 The boarding school’s headmaster, whom the students called “Oldie,” inflicted harsh punishment on those who failed their lessons. He was later declared insane, and the school was closed.. . .

Click here to read full article (PDF). 

Arthur W. Lindsley

Arthur W. Lindsley is the Vice President of Theological Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Works, & Economics. He has served at the C.S. Lewis Institute since 1987 both as President until 1998 and currently as Senior Fellows for Apologetics. Formerly, he was director of Educational Ministries at the Ligonier Valley Study Center, and Staff Specialist with the Coalition for Christian Outreach. He is the author of C.S. Lewis's Case for Christ, True Truth, Love: The Ultimate Apologetic, and co-author with R.C. Sproul and John Gerstner of Classical Apologetics, and has written numerous articles on theology, apologetics, C.S. Lewis, and the lives and works of many other authors and teachers. Art earned his M.Div. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.  

COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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