Lewis Revisited

With the release of the blockbuster film The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis is once again drawing the world’s attention. Of course, among Christians, Lewis’s stock has never gone down. For at least half a century, his works have been inspiring the faithful and drawing the skeptical to Christianity. As I have recounted many times, his book Mere Christianity was instrumental in my own conversion. Even many secularists have recognized the quality of Lewis’s work in such books as the Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters. All the same, not many consider him one of our culture’s major writers. But now that Lewis has come back into the limelight, people are taking a fresh look at the quiet-living Oxford professor and writer, trying to figure out just what Christians find so attractive about him. After all, there are plenty of gifted writers out there who never earn the kind of love, loyalty, and admiration that Lewis receives from so many readers. His devout faith, brilliant use of logic, and humility are rare and precious qualities. But what really makes him so compelling is his ability to blend reason and imagination in his works. As he wrote, “For me, reason is the natural organ of truth, and imagination is the organ of understanding.” He is right. The imagination sees what the mind might take only to be as abstract truth. So Christians and non-Christians alike can appreciate both Lewis’s endlessly creative imagination, and the way he grounded even his works of fantasy in absolute truth. This is why you do not have to be a Christian to enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia. Generations of children have loved the books whether they fully understood their religious significance or not. The movie, like the books, is for everyone. But the film, again like the book, is far richer and more meaningful if one grasps the Christian symbolism that pervades it. Lewis never intended the Narnia books to be an evangelical tool. But he did hope that they would show children the beauty and power of Christianity in a fresh light, rather than burdening them with the stale, as he put it, “stained glass and Sunday school associations” that could inadvertently “freeze feelings.” At a time when, as the newspaper Guardian reports, “Forty-three percent of people in Britain [can’t] say what Easter celebrate[s],” the need for such fresh approaches to faith is more urgent than ever. Whatever audiences may make of the film, we Christians have an unusual opportunity right now. The limelight is notoriously fleeting, and Lewis knew that all too well. He once wrote, “To move with the times is, of course, to go where all times go.” His refusal to “move with the times” is in part what gave his work its timeless quality. But for the moment at least, Lewis and his work are drawing worldwide attention, which gives us Christians a great opportunity. Take your friends to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, explain the Christian message it portrays, and then give them a copy of one of Lewis’s books. A list is available on our website, or we will send you a copy if you call us (1-877-322-5527). My choice, which comes as no surprise to anyone, is Mere Christianity—it might change their lives, just as it did mine.


Chuck Colson


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