by Knox Chamblin

Wrote C. S. Lewis: “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]  In that light we consider Lewis’ apologetics.  In this endeavor we are indebted to the greatest of all Christian apologists, the apostle Paul, who employed the Greek terms apologia (“defense”) and apologeomai (“make a defense”) in his witness to the Christian faith.[2]  The following five headings all have their counterparts in Paul’s teachings.

 

REVELATION.

For C. S. Lewis, as for Paul, the foremost way to defend the faith was to proclaim its central verities as revealed in Holy Scripture.  He focuses on mere Christianity, on the manifold truth of the Apostles’ Creed, on what has always been believed by all orthodox Christians everywhere.[3]

In accord with the Creed, Lewis affirms that the Holy Trinity is the foundational reality of Christian theology.  Book 4 of Mere Christianity (for which the first three prepare) is entitled “Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity.”  The unfathomable mystery of “the three-personal God” is itself evidence of its truth.  “It is the simple religions that are the made-up ones.”[4]  The words “God is love” (1 John 4:8) “have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons.  Love is something that one person has for another person.” God the Father and God the Son are eternally united in deepest love.  Moreover, “this union itself is also a Person…the Third of the three Persons who are God.”  Lewis likens this fellowship to a drama, to a dance, to a great fountain of energy and beauty springing forth at the heart of reality.[5]

God the Creator lacked nothing: fellowship within the Trinity was perfectly satisfying.  He created because of what he possessed: fullness of love and joy.  The wonders of God’s creative artistry are often celebrated in Lewis’ writings.[6]

“God created man in his own image…; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).  As there is a distinction between Creator and creation, so there is between human beings and the other creatures.  The diversity in man (“male and female”) corresponds to that within the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  God has dominion over the whole creation, man and woman over the rest of creation (1:28).  As Father, Son and Spirit unite in their rule, so do the man and the woman: Aslan (the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia) appoints both sons of Adam and daughters of Eve to reign over Narnia.[7]  As the Persons in the Godhead have different functions, so do the man and the woman: the glorious complementarity between the King and the Queen of Perelandra prepares them for participation in the Great Dance.[8]

On the heart, or conscience, of every human being, God engraved his moral law, a law based on his own holy character (see Rom. 7:12).  History testifies to the reality, objectivity, universality and tenacity of this “law of human nature.”[9]  Recognized by all civilized people are the “cardinal virtues”: wisdom (or prudence), moderation (or temperance), justice and courage (or fortitude).  The church acknowledges three “theological virtues” as well: faith, hope and love.[10]

 

INSURRECTION

The truth that God revealed about himself in his creation and in his moral law, human beings willfully suppressed (Rom. 1:18-32).  It is pride that explains their rebellion.  Pride is by nature competitive.  We say people are proud of being rich, or smart, or good-looking: but that is vanity.  We are proud of being richer, or smarter, or better-looking than someone else.  “It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.”[11]  To the proud person, God is the supreme Rival; so truth about him must be suppressed if the creature is to be enthroned in its own universe.  It was pride, the longing to be like God, that brought about the Fall of Man in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-7).  Pride is “the complete anti-God state of mind,” the premier “deadly sin” from which spring the other six—envy, wrath, sloth, covetousness, gluttony and lust.[12]

Human pride finds expression in Naturalism, the belief “that nothing exists except Nature.”  The Naturalist believes “that the ultimate Fact, the thing you can’t go behind, is a vast process in space and time which is going on of its own accord.”[13]  According to one brand of Naturalism, “matter, behaving in certain fixed ways, has just happened, by a sort of fluke, to produce creatures like ourselves who are able to think.”  According to another, “the small variations by which life on this planet ‘evolved’ from the lowest forms to Man were not due to chance but to the ‘striving’ or ‘purposiveness’ of a Life-Force.”  Yet this Life-Force (or élan vital) remains subject to the natural processes that gave rise to it: “nothing can come into Nature from the outside because there is nothing outside to come in, Nature being everything.”[14]  Belief in a transcendent God or in heaven has no basis in objective reality, but is only the product of human imaginings and longings.[15]  But, as Lewis observes, if there is no Reason behind Nature, if human beings owe their existence to Nature alone, how can they trust their reason to give an accurate account of Nature?  Are not their thoughts “the results of irrational causes,” the effects of Nature’s whims, and therefore sure to be irrational?  Would not reason have to stand outside Nature for its evaluation of natural processes to be trusted?[16]

Suppressing as it does the truth revealed by God, Naturalism possesses no objective moral norms.  On what basis, then, can one speak of cardinal virtues, or of deadly sins?  Why should not each person be allowed to do what is right in his own eyes (Judg. 21:25)?  What now determines “acceptable” human behavior, and who is to decide?  What rules are to govern those who govern others?  What is to guide self-deified humans in their efforts to master the powers of Nature?  In fact, the way of Naturalism assures “the abolition of man.”  In the meantime, as actors in a ghastly tragi-comedy, Naturalists betray their awareness of the very moral law they deny; and they clamor for the very qualities their philosophy rejects.

“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.  We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”[17]

There are further tragic consequences for Naturalists.  “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”  “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.”[18]  It is those who serve God instead of wealth, and who lay up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, who really enjoy wealth and the splendors of nature (see Matt. 6:19-34).  By the same token, the three “need loves”—storg (affection), philia (friendship) and eros (romantic love)—are sure to be selfish and destructive if used independently of God; but they will serve God’s purposes when undergirded by agap  (charity), the “gift love” which finds supreme expression in the Holy Trinity (1 John 4:8) and which God grants his people by the power of his Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Rom. 5:5).  “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.  In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all.”[19]

Satan cultivates and celebrates human rebellion.  The “only thing that matters,” says Screwtape to Wormwood, “is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.”  The simplest way to prevent people from attending to God “is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves.”  For the demons, Spiritual Pride is “the most beautiful of the vices.”  If the devil “worshipped anything but himself,” it would be the Life Force, so well does it serve his purpose.  To draw people away from mere Christianity, Wormwood should spur their interest in Christianity and something new or something else.  “Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring.”  Even when the usual learned person reads an ancient text, “the one question he never asks is whether it is true.”[20]

 

LIBERATION

The general revelation of creation (see above) cannot reclaim rebellious creatures; special revelation from God is required.  “Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is.  Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed….”[21]  The will of the higher and the mighti­er to come down, to give itself to, and to raise, the lesser and weaker, is abundantly evident in nature.  “The pattern is there in Nature because it was first there in God.”  That pattern comes to its highest expression in the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of the Son of God: these events are the Grand Miracle of human history.  Like a diver who descends to the ocean’s floor and returns with priceless treasure, Jesus goes to the very depths, to death itself, and then rises triumphantly, bearing a redeemed humanity.  It is no accident that Jesus rises in the spring.  His resurrection is no legend inspired by the cycle of the seasons; rather, it is the central historical reality which God illustrates with budding maples and blossoming azaleas.[22]

“Each thing was made for Him.  He is the centre….  Blessed be He!”  This praise for the Son of God in Perelandra[23] is due the figure that dominates the Chronicles of Narnia.  When Lewis began to write what became The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he “had very little idea how the story would go.”  But when the great lion Aslan “came bounding into it…He pulled the whole story together, and soon He pulled the six other Narnian stories in after Him.”[24]  Aslan is both good and terrible: the children tremble before his roar, but bury their faces in his great golden mane.  “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.  “Who said anything about safe?  ’Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.”[25]  On occasion the Chronicles witness to the figure Aslan represents.  In one story, as the creatures stand before the donkey’s stable whose inside is bigger than its outside (whose door is the gateway to eternity), Lucy says: “In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”  In another, when Lucy expresses sorrow over never returning to Narnia, Aslan assures her that she will meet him in her own world.  “But there I have another name.  You must learn to know me by that name.”[26]

Followers of Christ believe that “the main thing He came to earth to do was to suffer and be killed….The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God….We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins….”  With Anselm, Lewis affirms that the Redeemer had to be both divine and human.[27]  In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edmund stands condemned: the Law of the Emperor over Sea—represented by the Stone Table—requires the traitor’s blood.  But Aslan willingly dies in Edmund’s place.  The traitor is redeemed—liberated at great personal cost to Aslan.[28]

According to the New Testament, Christ’s resurrection from the dead was bodily in character, and “the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe.  He is the ‘first fruits,’ the ‘pioneer of life.’  He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man.”[29]  The risen Aslan is assuredly no ghost!  He explains to the children that had the white witch been able to read the “deeper magic from before the dawn of time,” she “would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”  The cracked Table signals that the curse of the Law has been broken.  Aslan’s breath restores stone statues to life: believers will be raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11).[30]

As the Apostles’ Creed affirms, the conception and the resurrection of Jesus were miraculous events.  In face of denials from naturalists and Bible critics, Lewis argues that the “canon ‘If miraculous, unhistorical’ is one [scholars] bring to their study of the texts, not one they have learned from it.”  “I never regard any narrative as unhistorical simply on the ground that it includes the miraculous….The real reason why I can accept as historical a story in which a miracle occurs is that I have never found any philo­sophical grounds for the universal negative propo­sition that miracles do not happen.”  The Creator is perfectly free to suspend his own Laws of Nature.  The more we learn about Jesus and the God he reveals, “the more credible the miracles become.”[31]  Lewis’ essay “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” contains this answer: “There is no question of what we can make of Him, it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us.  You must accept or reject the story.”[32]  Some reject it by trying to reconstruct it.  People often say about Him:

“I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.”  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic…or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.[33]

 

TRANSFORMATION

Lewis’ account of his conversion is integral to his apologetics—as Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road was to his (Acts 22:1-16; 26:1-18).  Exposed to the faith in his early years, Lewis says that at about the age of 13 he “ceased to be a Christian.”  “I became an apostate, dropping my faith with no sense of loss but with the greatest relief.”[34]  “I was at this time [a year or so later] living, like so many Atheists or Antitheists, in a whirl of contradictions.  I maintained that God did not exist.  I was also very angry with God for not existing.  I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.”  Lewis thus rebels against both general and special revelation.  Strongly influenced by an atheistic teacher, he marshals arguments supporting Naturalism and opposing Christianity.[35]

Around the time he became a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford (1925), Lewis was discovering that the authors who really fed him were Christians—Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Samuel Johnson, George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton and the like.  At Oxford he was also getting to know persons who were both ­Christians and intellectu­als, such as J. R. R. Tolkien.  He began to think of God as cosmic Reason or Beauty or Goodness or Spirit.  “There was, I explained, no possibility of being in a personal relation with Him.  For I thought He projected us as a dramatist projects his characters, and I could no more ‘meet’ Him, than Hamlet could meet Shakespeare.”[36]

But the Hound of Heaven was in pursuit.

Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about “man’s search for God.”  To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat….You must picture me, alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling…the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.  That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me.  In the Trinity [spring] Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.  I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet.  But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?

The words “compel them to come in,” when properly understood, “­plumb the depth of the Divine mercy….  His compulsion is our liberation.”[37]

Lewis became a Christian two years later.  During a late-night conversation, his friends Tolkien and Hugo Dyson helped him to see that the story of Christ was the myth that came true, that really happened.­[38]  Lewis reapplied his earlier analogy: If Shake­speare and Hamlet were to meet, “it must be Shakespeare­’s doing….Shakespeare could, in princi­ple, make himself appear as Author within the play, and write a dialogue between Hamlet and him­self.  The ‘Shake­speare’ within the play would…be at once Shakespeare and one of Shakes­peare’s crea­tures.  It would bear some analogy to Incar­na­tion.”  “I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken.  I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning.  When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.”[39]  Lewis knew himself to be “not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement [but] a rebel who must lay down his arms.”  Eustace’s efforts to shed his dragon-skin are futile; it takes Aslan’s radical surgery to make him a boy again.[40]

In a sense, says Lewis, “the central story of my life is about nothing else” than Joy—“that unsatisfied desire which it itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.”’  In time he realized he was wrong to suppose he desired Joy itself.  ­­­“All the value lay in that of which Joy was the desiring.”  Sought for its own sake, Joy remains elusive.  Those who set their hearts on God will be surprised by Joy.[41]  One means by which God deepens his people’s love for him, and prepares them for the Great Dance of the life eternal, is suffering.[42]  Another is the communion of saints in the holy catholic church.[43]

 

INVITATION

“Most of my books are evangelistic, addressed to tous exo [those without],” wrote Lewis.  For the “real business of life” is “the glory of God, and, as our only means to glorifying Him, the salvation of human souls.”  Indeed, said this lover of literature, “the salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world.”[44]  As the apostle Paul used the koin (“common”) Greek to preach the gospel, so Lewis sought to expound the faith in words ordinary people could understand.  “We must learn the language of our audience” if we are to be effective apologists.  “I have come to the conviction that if you cannot translate your thoughts into uneducated language, then your thoughts were confused.”[45]

In Lewis’ view, “an author should never conceive himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before, but simply and solely as trying to embody in his own art some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom.”[46]  In seeking to do so, Lewis appeals to both our reason’s love of truth and our imagination’s love of story—as Jesus himself did.  While we would be much impoverished if deprived of such closely-reasoned books as Miracles, The Problem of Pain, The Abolition of Man and Mere Christianity, such imaginative works as Perelandra, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce and the Chronicles of Narnia will usually prove to be the more effective apologetic tools.  “Lewis understood the daunting improbability of awakening the stultified modern imagination to ancient and eternal blisses and realities.  He understood the task, and he undertook it by means of the oldest method there is.  He began to tell stories….”[47]  Like Jesus’ parables, the Chronicles of Narnia have a way of disarming people, and confronting them with truth before they realize what is happening: for example, the account of Aslan’s execution bears the truth of Jesus’ crucifixion “past watchful dragons.”[48]  The widespread ignorance of Christianity—as evidenced in responses to Out of the Silent Planet— “might be a help to the evangelisation of England; any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under the cover of romance without their knowing it.”[49]

Lewis recognized the gravity of the Christian apologist’s task.

It is a serious thing…to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare….[It is in this light] that we should conduct all our dealings with one another….There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal….But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit ‑ immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.[50]

He also knew that being an apologist called for humility before God and the people to whom one is witnessing.  Let us all ponder “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer.”

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more

From all the victories that I seemed to score;

From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf

At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;

From all my proofs of Thy divinity,

Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

Thoughts are but coins.  Let me not trust, instead

Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.

From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,

O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.

Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,

Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.[51]

 

CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS

The foregoing suggests at least four reasons why C. S. Lewis is “a scholar every Christian should know.”  First, he schools us in a whole range of Christian beliefs.  In that light he helps us to perceive the flaws in opposing views; for example, the Biblical doctrine of creation exposes the folly of Naturalism.  And he is a prophet: warnings sounded in The Abolition of Man in 1943 are more urgent now than then.

Second, he encourages us to grow in relation to ourselves, to other people, and to God.  The Screwtape Letters reveal my vulnerability to various temptations, and God’s way of escape from Satan’s tyranny.  The Four Loves teaches me how to love other people, both Christians and non-Christians.  A whole symphony of Lewis’ writings deepen my joy in the Holy Trinity, and longing for heaven.

Third, while many scholars have ably expounded and defended Biblical truth, Lewis surpasses most of them by the clarity of his thought, the simplicity of his language, the power of his arguments, the brilliance of his imagination, and the appeal of his stories.  His writings elucidate and amplify each other—a great help to non-scholars!

Lastly, he offers us an example to follow.  Does not God command us to be apologists too (1 Pet. 3:15)?  Could it be that someone reading this sentence should witness to the Christian faith by writing a children’s story or a critique of American public education?

 

Knox Chamblin (Th.D.) is Professor of New Testament Emeritus at Reformed Theological Seminary.  He has done extensive study of and teaching about C. S. Lewis, the man and his works.

 

Noteworthy Dates in the Life of C. S. Lewis

  1. November 29: Lewis is born.
  2. August 23: his mother, Flora Lewis, dies. September 18: he enrolls at Wynyard School.
  3. September-December: he is enrolled at Campbell College, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  4. January: he enrolls at Cherbourg House. Here, he says, he ‘ceased to be a Christian.’
  5. September: he is enrolled at Malvern College.
  6. September 19: he meets William Kirkpatrick, who tutors him until the next March.
  7. April: at Univ. College, Oxford. June: he joins the army.  November: he crosses to France.
  8. April 15: he is wounded in battle. May-November: in hospitals.
  9. January 13: he arrives back in Oxford.
  10. July 16: he takes First Class honors in English Language and Literature at Oxford.
  11. May 20: he is elected Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.
  12. In the spring, Lewis converts to belief in God. September 25: his father, Albert Lewis, dies.
  13. September 28: he is certain ‘that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’
  14. May 25: The Pilgrim’s Regress is published.
  15. September 23: Out of the Silent Planet is published.
  16. April 25: first weekly Inklings meeting. October 18: The Problem of Pain is published.
  17. June 8: the sermon ‘The Weight of Glory’ is preached at St. Mary’s Church, Oxford.

August: first of the broadcast talks that would eventually be published as Mere Christianity.

  1. February 9: The Screwtape Letters is published.
  2. January 6: The Abolition of Man is published. April 20: Perelandra is published.
  3. August 16: That Hideous Strength is published.
  4. January 14: The Great Divorce is published.
  5. May 12: Miracles is published.
  6. October 16: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is published.
  7. October 15: Prince Caspian is published.
  8. July 7: Mere Christianity is published. September 15: The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader is published.             September 24: he meets Joy Gresham.
  9. September 7: The Silver Chair is published.
  10. June 4: he accepts Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University.

September 6: The Horse and His Boy is published.

  1. May 2: The Magician’s Nephew is published. September 19: Surprised by Joy is published.
  2. March 19: The Last Battle published. April 23: he and Joy are married in the Registry Office.

Sept 10: Till We Have Faces is published.  Oct 19: Joy, suffering from cancer, is hospitalized.

  1. March 21: he and Joy are married in Wingfield-Morris Hospital by the Rev. Peter Bide, who also performs a healing service for Joy, who is believed to be dying.
  2. June: Joy’s cancer is diagnosed as arrested.
  3. October: Joy’s cancer returns.
  4. March 28: The Four Loves is published. April 3-14: he and Joy are in Greece.

July 13: Joy Davidman Lewis dies.  August: he writes A Grief Observed.

  1. October 13: An Experiment in Criticism is published.
  2. Nov 22: he dies at his home. On the same day John Kennedy was assassinated, and Aldoux Huxley              (British novelist and essayist) died.  See Peter Kreeft, Between Heaven and Hell (Downers Grove:                InterVarsity, 1982).

 

The above dates are drawn from Walter Hooper’s C. S. Lewis: A Companion & Guide (Harper SanFrancisco, 1996), 121-26.

 

NOTES

[1] The closing sentence of “Is Theology Poetry?” in They Asked for a Paper (London: Bles, 1962), 150-165.  Unless otherwise indicated, Lewis is the author of all sources cited.

[2] Especially notable are the instances of the noun apologia in Acts 22:1; 25:16; Phil. 1:7, 16; and of the verb apologeomai in Acts 24:10; 25:8; 26:2.  See also 1 Pet. 3:15-16 (with apologia).

[3] The Holy Catholic Faith is “divided from all non-Christian beliefs by a chasm to which the worst divisions inside Christendom are not really comparable” (Preface to Mere Christianity).

[4] Mere Christianity, Book 4, ch. 2.  No wonder King Tor says: “‘For many hours I learned new things about Maleldil and about His Father and the Third One.  We knew little of this while we were young” (Perelandra, ch. 17).

[5] Mere Christianity, Book 4, ch. 4.  Screwtape perceives that God “is not content, even Himself, to be a sheer arithmetical unity; He claims to be three as well as one, in order that this nonsense about Love may find a foothold in His own nature” (The Screwtape Letters, no. 18).

[6] “He has no need at all of anything that is made”; it is all “a plain bounty” (Perelandra, ch. 17).  In The Magician’s Nephew, chs. 8 and 9, Aslan sings Narnia into being.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, ch. 11, describes the glories of spring after a century-long winter.  “Only Supernaturalists really see Nature” (Miracles, ch. 9).  See Reflections on the Psalms, ch. 8 (“Nature”).

[7] The Magician’s Nephew, ch. 14; and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, ch. 17.

[8] Perelandra, ch. 17.  On the respective functions of the masculine and the feminine in the hierarchy of being, see “Priestesses in the Church?” in God in the Dock, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 234-39; and The Four Loves, ch. 5 (“Eros”).

 [9]See Rom. 2:14-15; Mere Christianity, Book 1 (“Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe”); and the appendix to The Abolition of Man (for illustrations of the law of human nature, or Tao, from various times and places in history).

[10] Mere Christianity, Book 3, chs. 2 (cardinal virtues), 9-12 (theological virtues).

[11] Mere Christianity, Book 3, ch. 8 (“The Great Sin”).

[12] Ibid.  Questions about human suffering must take account of “human wickedness” and “the fall of man” (The Problem of Pain, chs. 4 and 5).  For episodes in which the temptation of Genesis 3 is resisted, see The Magician’s Nephew, ch. 13, and Perelandra, chs. 8-11.  On the seven  deadly sins, see Dorothy L. Sayers’ introduction to Dante’s The Divine Comedy: Purgatory (London: Penguin Books, 1955), 61-68.

[13] Miracles, ch. 2 (“The Naturalist and the Supernaturalist”).

[14] The first two quotations are from Mere Christianity, Book 1, ch. 4; the third from Miracles, ch. 2.  Belief in a Life-Force is a form of pantheism.  On this view, Nature is God: “if [the universe] did not exist He would not exist either” (Mere Christianity, Book 2, ch. 1).

[15] In The Silver Chair, ch. 12, the Queen of Underland argues that her world is the only world, that the Overworld is only a “pretty make-believe.”  Cf. the quotation from Roland Quiz, Giant-Land, at the opening of Miracles, ch. 2.

 [16] See Miracles, ch. 3 (“The Self-Contradiction of the Naturalist”).  “Thus the Freudian proves that all thoughts are merely due to complexes except the thoughts which constitute this proof itself” (ibid.).  Mere Christianity, Book 3, ch. 4, affirms the value of Freudian psychoanalytic technique while rejecting its philosophical basis.

[17] The Abolition of Man, ch. 1, where the “chest” is the heart, where virtues are cultivated.  See Mere Christianity, Book 1, ch. 1 (a person who claims that morality is relative will still appeal to an objective moral standard when he himself is wronged); and “The Poison of Subjectivism,” Christian Reflections, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 72-81.  “Man is the last bit of nature to be conquered, and he will be conquered by Tao-less, naturalistic, amoral ‘Conditioners.’  Thus ‘man’s conquest of Nature’ turns out to be ‘Nature’s conquest of man’ and the ‘abolition of man’” (Peter J. Kreeft, C. S. Lewis for the Third Millennium [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1994], 137-38).  Cf. the judgment on the men of the N.I.C.E. in That Hideous Strength, ch. 16.  On the descent from a God-centered (or medieval) to a man-centered (or modernist) view of reality, see The Discarded Image and “De Descriptione Temporum,” in They Asked for a Paper, 9-25.

[18] The respective quotations are from Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. W. H. Lewis (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1966), 228; and Mere Christianity, Book 3, ch. 10.

 [19]Letters of C. S. Lewis, 248.  On the cruciality of agap, see especially The Four Loves.

[20] The respective quotations are from The Screwtape Letters, nos. 12, 4, 24, 22, 25 and 27.  Cf. Mere Christianity, Book 1, ch. 4: “Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?”

[21]Mere Christianity, Book 2, ch. 2.

[22] Miracles, ch. 14 (“The Grand Miracle”).  “The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact.  The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history.  It happens—at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences” (“Myth Became Fact,” God in the Dock, 66).

[23] Ch. 17, where the Son is called Maleldil (see n. 4 above).  Cf. Col. 1:15-20.

[24] “It All Began with a Picture…,” On Stories, and Other Essays on Literature, ed. Walter Hooper (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982), 53.  In The Horse and His Boy, Shasta says that Aslan “seems to be at the back of all the stories” (ch. 14).  Aslan is the “center of gravity…for the whole saga” (Thomas Howard, The Achievement of C. S. Lewis [Wheaton: Harold Shaw, 1980], 48).

[25] The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, ch. 8.

[26] The Last Battle (ch. 13), and The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” (ch. 16).

[27] Mere Christianity, Book 2, ch. 4 (“The Perfect Penitent”).  The Savior must be both God (who alone can atone for sins) and man (who alone ought to) (Anselm, Cur Deus Homo? Book 2).

[28] Chs. 13 (“Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time”), 14 (“The Triumph of the Witch”).  The witch invokes the Deep Magic, but it was established by the Emperor over Sea (God the Father).  By the disobedience of another son of Adam (Digory), Sin entered Narnia at its very dawn (cf. Rom. 5:12).  Even then, Aslan foresaw his saving work: “Evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself” (The Magician’s Nephew, ch. 11).  The Bible stresses the great cost of redemption, and never says the ransom is paid to the devil; see e.g. Mark 10:45; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:18-19.  Cf. Perelandra, ch. 11: “’It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom,’ said the Voice….’My name also is Ransom,’ said the Voice.”

[29] Miracles, ch. 16.  Cf. 1 Cor. 15:20; Acts 5:31; Heb. 2:10; Rev. 1:18.

[30] The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, chs. 15 and 16.  Would Jadis have killed Aslan, had she realized he would rise to destroy her?  Cf. 1 Cor. 2:6-8; Col. 2:13-15.

[31] The respective quotations are from “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism” (Christian Reflections, 158); Reflections on the Psalms, ch. 11; and Miracles, ch. 15.  “There must be no pretence [sic] that you can have [Christianity] with the Supernatural left out.  So far as I can see Christianity is precisely the one religion from which the miraculous cannot be separated” (“Christian Apologetics,” in God in the Dock, 99).

[32] In God in the Dock, 160.

[33] Mere Christianity, Book 2, ch. 3.  The demons encourage the study of the “historical Jesus” (The Screwtape Letters, no. 23).  The coming of the God-man both dispels and deepens mystery (see Paul’s use of the noun mystrion in Col. 1:24-2:5).

[34] Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, ch. 4.  Cf. The Pilgrim’s Regress, Book 1, for John’s life under, and escape from, the Landlord (who stands for God).

[35] The quotation is from Surprised by Joy, ch. 7.  The teacher is W. T. Kirkpatrick (ibid., ch. 9).  For Lewis’ arguments, see e.g. They Stand Together: The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1914-1963), ed. Walter Hooper (New York: Macmillan, 1979), 134-39 (letters from 1916).

[36] Surprised by Joy, ch. 14.

[37] Ibid.  Cf. Luke 14:23; John 6:44.  “Conversion requires an alteration of the will, and an alteration which, in the last resort, does not occur without the intervention of the supernatural” (“The Decline of Religion,” in God in the Dock, 221).

[38] They Stand Together, 421-28 (letters from September and October, 1931).  Cf. n. 22 above.

[39] The quotations are from Surprised by Joy, chs. 14 and 15 respectively.

[40] The quotation is from Mere Christianity, Book 2, ch. 4.  Eustace’s “conversion” (in The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader,” ch. 7) recalls Lewis’ own experience: see Alan Jacobs, The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis (Harper SanFrancisco, 2005), 133-34.

[41] The quotations are from Surprised by Joy, chs. 1 and 14 respectively.  In The Pilgrim’s Regress, John’s intense longing for the Island (Book 1) is only satisfied when he returns to the Landlord (Book 10).

[42] The Problem of Pain closes with a chapter on “heaven.”  God’s goodness to us in our fallen state “must…mean primarily remedial or corrective good” (ibid., ch. 5).  Suffering shatters the illusions of human divinity and self-sufficiency.  “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (ibid., ch. 6).  Says Lewis in the closing chapter of A Grief Observed (which he wrote after the death of his wife Joy): “When I lay these questions before God I get no answer.  But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’  It is not the locked door.  It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze.  As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question.  Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.’” Reminiscent of the Book of Job is Orual’s address to the God at the close of Till We Have Faces: “I ended my first book with the words No answer.  I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.  You are yourself the answer.  Before your face questions die away.”

[43] Mere Christianity, Book 4, chs. 7 and 8; ‘Membership,’ The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, ed. Walter Hooper (New York: Macmillan, 1980), 106-20.  In The Pilgrim’s Regress, “Mother Kirk” is the Landlord’s daughter-in-law (Book 5, chs. 1 and 2).  In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Professor Kirke imparts wisdom to the children.  In The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” the ship of the title may well be an image for the church (Jacobs, The Narnian, 209-10).

[44] The respective quotations are from “Rejoinder to Dr Pittenger” (God in the Dock, 181); “Christianity and Culture” (Christian Reflections, 14); and “Christianity and Literature” (ibid., 10).  In face of mysteries concerning the fate of the heathen, we trust that “all justice and mercy will be done”’ by God; “nevertheless it is our duty to do all we can to convert unbelievers” (The Letters of C. S. Lewis, 238).

[45] “Christian Apologetics,” 96, 98.  Mere Christianity affords us a superb model.

[46] “Christianity and Literature,” 7.  In The Great Divorce (ch. 9), an inhabitant of heaven says to a ghost who had been an artist on earth: “When you painted on earth—at least in your earlier days—it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape.  The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too.  But here you are having the thing itself.”

[47] Howard, The Achievement of C. S. Lewis, 15.  On the value of an apologetic that shows rather than merely explains, see Jacobs, The Narnian, 242-47.  Yet in favoring the former, Lewis never repudiated the latter (see Victor Reppert, C. S. Lewis’ Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason [Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003]).

[48] Walter Hooper, “Past Watchful Dragons: The Fairy Tales of C. S. Lewis,” Imagination and the Spirit, ed. Charles A. Huttar (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 277-339.

[49] The Letters of C. S. Lewis, 167 (from a letter written in 1939).

[50] “The Weight of Glory,” They Asked for a Paper, 210-11.

[51] In Poems, ed. Walter Hooper (London: Bles, 1964), 129.  We apologists “can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our arguments…into Reality—from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself.  That also is why we need one another’s continual help—oremus pro invicem [Let us pray for one another]” (“Christian Apologetics,” 103).