I don’t ‘get’ CS Lewis.

I’m reading ‘Miracles’ at the moment, and it’s not resonating with me any more than ‘Mere Christianity’ did (which is not much). I love ‘The Screwtape Letters’, but I think that’s got more to do with the clever satire than anything else. I know that CS Lewis is very well respected, but I just can’t quite feel inspired by his apologetic writings. So, to those of you who find him convincing, what is it in particularly that works for you? And does anyone else join me in the ‘meh’ camp?

( I love his Narnia books though. I’m willing to make a lot of allowances for the man that brought the world Narnia)

22 thoughts on “I don’t ‘get’ CS Lewis.

  1. I loved Mere Christianity but then I am already a Christian and maybe that helped my enjoyment of it. It you were looking for something of that ilk then ‘The Reason for God’ by Tim Keller is similar but modern, although he does quote CS Lewis a lot! I also found ‘The God I don’t Understand’ very interesting, although it doesn’t provide any clear cut definite answers, I guess that’s part of the reason it’s called faith?

    • Thanks Nick- I just added The God I Dont Understand to my kindle. I’m not a fan of Keller. He made a scientific statement in one of his books (maybe using irreducible complexity as a reason for a designer?) which even I, as a lay person, could debunk so it put me off him a bit. I might give him another go, though.

  2. I’m a Christian, but I’ve never put much stock in Apologetical works. I think Lewis has become a “sacred cow” (pardon the odd mixing of metaphors) primarily because of the Narnia books. I don’t think his apologetical works are that good, but as I’ve said, I don’t put too much stock in those. I think “A Grief Observed” is particularly good (and a considerable advancement on his earlier “Problem of Pain”) and his books The Four Loves, The Weight of Glory, and ‘Till We Have Faces are all nice, but probably only to already believing Christians. Literarily I like Dostoevsky, but he doesn’t provide clean cut answers (and one might walk away a frustrated atheists as likely as one would be a Christian from most of his works, particularly The Brothers Karamazov (I should note that his pre-Crime and Punishment works were written as an Atheist and a Communist (Poor Folk) and Crime and Punishment on (The Idiot, Karamazov) were as a Christian, but one who clearly struggled with his faith). So they aren’t “apologetical” in the usual sense. As far as Christian living, I like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and his two more approachable books (Life Together and The Cost of Discipleship), but again his works are more as a corrective to (as he saw them) excesses in Christianity. So I can’t help you if you want Apologetics to read (I don’t like them), but these other books might give insight to what the Christian faith is really about.

    • You make a really good point. I actually don’t like apologetics either, and I think that I’m letting the idea that he’s CS Lewis get in the wat of that basic fact.
      I’ve been dabbling in some Dostoyevsky lately- I’ll commit myself to him a bit more, I think.
      Great recommendations; thanks.

  3. Lewis undoubtedly speaks more to moderns than post moderns, because that’s the worldview in which he was writing. I’ll admit that Lewis has had a huge influence on me. Many people may not be aware that Lewis was professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at both Cambridge and Oxford. At one time, I wanted to become a university English professor, so I was attracted to his style. Perhaps his time has come and gone, but I still love reading him.

  4. Lewis is touted because he says that he was once an atheist. However, his reasons for being an atheist don’t seem to match up with the reasons many are nowadays, which makes his writing fall flat.

  5. I’m more a fan of Lewis the man than Lewis the writer. He struggled honestly and deeply with his faith and consequently, for me, his best writings are those that reflect lived-life dilemmas. I find his correspondence with dozens of letter-writing fans, asking him about all kinds of issues, more heart-felt and insightfully spiritual than his attempts at casual apologetics. (He considered his letters to readers a chore and yet his true ministry.) It took me two readings of “Mere Christianity” to get it. It is good but not great. His tweedy, early 20th century English academic insularity is a bit thick to plow through. For me, his best things are “Surprised By Joy”, “A Grief Observed”, the Narnia series, of course, and some of his correspondence.

  6. CS Lewis was a great influence on me in my youth, and I read virtually everything he wrote. I loved the polite, reasonable approach, the thoughtful analogies and the way he carefully built his case. Favourites included Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Pilgrim’s Regress, his essays and his letters. I don’t read him so much these days, but when I do I still appreciate the same things.

  7. I’ve never liked Lewis. That so many do I’ve always taken as a depressing indictment at how bad Christian theologians are at reaching mainstream readers. Any God whose existence and way in the world can be so easily, rationally demonstrated might be the god of olde Anglicanism but not the God of the Bible. Even Lewis’ conversion book is BORING and, even worse, purely intellectual, as though following Jesus were about ideas.
    I like Narnia but think its Sesame Street to Tolkien. Rowan Williams has a new book out about Narnia, maybe he will point out what I’ve missed.

  8. I have to concur, that even in my most committed Christian days, I could not get into Lewis. Especially, Mere Christianity….boring.

    I honestly think that Lewis is more widely quoted than having been read. He has some very quotable turn of the phrases (like his Liar, Lord, Lunatic from Mere Christianity). That and the Narnia books have made him well respected and popular. But most Christians I knew, did not really know that much of his actual writings.

    Just my 2 cents on the man….

  9. “I honestly think that Lewis is more widely quoted than having been read.”

    I disagree here. I am still finding people who say Mere Christianity made a big difference to them – Francis Collins for example – decades after Lewis died.

  10. I grew up in a Christian home but my parents didn’t have fundamentalist views… Church was a place to be reminded that we don’t understand God and that faith is important… not to get the list of scripture verses to slay evil and convert un-believers. My parents asked me once about my faith and I recited for them what I knew in my own heart. So, even though I had shucked off my religion, that I had faith was all they wanted to hear and when they listened intently and lovingly, I realized, they were faithful in a deep way that until that 1/2 hour was unknown to me about them.

    Faith was by then for me was about learning to be loving compassionate and comfortable with being genuine and free of dogma … the rebellion was over …nobody had to win anymore. I was free, they were free; you were free.

    I din’t know you; still don’t but I knew you were free… nobody was more or less important.

    ~ Eric

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