Meet C.S. Lewis

"Paging through 40 years of Christianity Today . . . one author's books indisputably affected American evangelicals during this period more than any other. And that author was neither American nor quintessentially evangelical . . . C.S. Lewis." (Christianity Today 9/16/96). Lewis had an enormous impact on more than a generation of readers who sought "practical wisdom, digestible theology, wit, verve, logic, and imagination."

Clive Staples ("Jack") Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on November 29, 1898. Raised in a bookish home, Lewis and his older brother, Warren, were more at home in the world of ideas of the past, than with the real world of the 20th century. Coping with the tragedy of his mother's death when he was 10, Jack sought refuge in composing stories and studying. The rest of his life might have been a sad search for the security he felt as a child before his mother's death, if not for the joy he experienced in his conversion to Christianity in September of 1931. After long conversations with J.R.R. Tolkien (a devout Catholic), Lewis records in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy (1950), "When we [Warren and Jack] set out [by motorcycle to the Whipsnade Zoo] I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did."

In 1933, he published his first theological work, The Pilgrim's Regress, a lively allegory detailing his flight from skepticism to faith and a parody of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. In a varied and comprehensive career, C.S. Lewis wrote with three very different voices. There was Lewis, the distinguished Oxbridge literary scholar and critic; Lewis, the highly acclaimed author of science fiction and children's literature; and Lewis, the popular writer and broadcaster of Christian apologetics. Although his most notable critical and commercial success is certainly his seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia, published between 1950 and 1956, he is at his most articulate, and winsome in his theological works: The Problem of Pain (1940), a defense of pain -- and the doctrine of hell -- as evidence of an ordered universe; and The Screwtape Letters (1942), a senior devil's correspondence with a junior devil who is fighting Christ the Enemy for the soul of an unsuspecting believer.

During World War II, he emerged as a religious broadcaster and became famous as the "apostle to skeptics." Mere Christianity is a compilation of his wartime radio essays defending and explaining the Christian faith. C.S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963, a week before his 65th birthday and on the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. His grave is in the yard of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, Oxford. The headstone bears the inscription from Shakespeare, "Men must endure their going hence." All who read, both evangelical and skeptic, are richer for Jack Lewis having come.

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