With contributions from a number of well-known evangelical leaders, this book explores the life, work, and theology of one of the most prominent Christians of the twentieth century: C. S. Lewis.
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About the Author
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College&Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God; Don’t Waste Your Life; This Momentary Marriage; A Peculiar Glory; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
David Mathis serves as the executive editor at desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church, and adjunct professor at Bethlehem College&Seminary. He writes regularly at desiringGod.org, and he and his wife, Megan, have four children.
Randy Alcorn (MA, Multnomah University) is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries and a New York Times best-selling author of over fifty books. His books have sold over nine million copies and been translated into nearly seventy languages. Alcorn resides in Gresham, Oregon, with his wife, Nanci. They have two married daughters and five grandsons.
Philip Graham Ryken (DPhil, University of Oxford) is the eighth president of Wheaton College. He preached at Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church from 1995 until his appointment at Wheaton in 2010. Ryken has published more than 50 books, including When Trouble Comes and expository commentaries on Exodus, Ecclesiastes, and Jeremiah. He serves as a board member for the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, the Lausanne Movement, and the National Association of Evangelicals.
Douglas Wilson (MA, University of Idaho) is a pastor, a popular speaker, and the author of numerous books. He helped to found Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, and is currently a senior fellow of theology at New St. Andrews College. He blogs regularly at DougWils.com.
Table of Contents
Half a Century since C. S. Lewis David Mathis
1 C. S. Lewis, Romantic Rationalist 21
How His Paths to Christ Shaped His Life and Ministry John Piper
2 Inerrancy and the Patron Saint of Evangelicalism 39
C. S. Lewis on Holy Scripture Philip Ryken
3 Undragoned 65
C. S. Lewis on the Gift of Salvation Douglas Wilson
4 In Bright Shadow 81
C. S. Lewis on the Imagination for Theology and Discipleship Kevin Vanhoozer
5 C. S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth 105
God's Eternal Remedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering Randy Alcorn
6 What God Made Is Good-and Must Be Sanctified 131
C. S. Lewis and St. Paul on the Use of Creation John Piper
Appendix 1 C. S. Lewis and the Doctrine of Hell Randy Alcorn 147
Appendix 2 A Conversation with the Contributors 155
General Index 180
Scripture Index 187
A Note on Resources: desiringGod.org 191
What People are Saying About This
“A book that displays the impressive breadth of Lewis’s appeal across denominational boundaries and that helpfully highlights the continuing importance of his example as a Christian who could think both rationally and imaginatively. Altogether an interesting, lively, and thought-provoking read.”
Michael Ward, Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford; author, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis
“For many of us, the writings of C. S. Lewis have been a helpful guide to the nooks and crannies of the Christian life. As noted by a number of the authors of this extremely helpful collection of essays, the rich coloring of all of Lewis’s work has been a tonic in the gray drabness of contemporary life. Although none of the authors would endorse every element of Lewis’s thinking, each is well aware that to neglect Lewis is to miss out on one of God’s surprising gifts in the twentieth century. A great introduction to and reflection on a remarkable Christian!”
Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Paints a well-rounded, sharply observed portrait that balances criticism with a deep love and appreciation for the works and witness of Lewis. The writers have all absorbed Lewis into their bones, and they invite us to do the same.”
Louis Markos, Professor of English and Scholar in Residence, Houston Baptist University; author, From Achilles to Christ and Literature: A Student’s Guide
“A warm-hearted, engaging and thoroughly thought-out appreciation of evangelicalism’s enormous debt to C. S. Lewis that also looks squarely at differences, real and imagined. With well-chosen and varied contributors, it presents a deep understanding and wide reading of Lewis and also reaches toward the secret of Lewis’s profound and health-giving influence on Christianity throughout the world.”
Colin Duriez,author, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship, A-Z of C. S. Lewis andJ.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend
“In order to explore the world that is Lewis, we need faithful guides, explorers who have charted his terrain, both the familiar and the back roads where few have dared to tread. The authors have not just looked at Lewis, as though he were some theological or literary curiosity. Instead, they’ve looked along Lewis, laboring to see with the freshness of his vision, and then draw us further up and further in so that we too come to see the real world, and God, and Christ, with new eyes.”
Joe Rigney, Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview, Bethlehem College and Seminary; author,The Things of EarthandLive Like a Narnian
“Lewis fans of all persuasions will enjoy this collection of essays. More than just a celebration of Lewis, the authors celebrate what Lewis celebrated and point to the one he pointed to. The authors don’t always agree with Lewis (itself a good and healthy thing), but they always understand and appreciate him and help us to do so as well. Most of all, in these essays they share Lewis’s ultimate goalthat of kindling and nurturing a desire for God.”
Devin Brown, author, A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Even though he died over fifty years ago; Even though he was an atheist during his early adult life; Even though, as a confirmed Anglican churchman, he never jumped onto the evangelical bandwagon, C.S. Lewis’s popularity as an author is greater today than at any time during his life. John Piper attributes this to his “utter commitment to both the life of the mind and the life of the heart,” and has compiled a comprehensive tribute to and analysis of Lewis’s contribution to the shaping of the evangelical mindset. Because he has partnered with four other Lewis scholars, each chapter of the book brings a fresh perspective on the life, theology and writing of “the patron saint of evangelicalism.” Philip Ryken on Inerrancy: If anyone ever has a beef against Lewis, it’s probably related to his doctrine of Scripture (unless they won’t read him at all because he smoked and drank alcohol). Ryken is clear on Lewis’s most important theological shortcoming: he “placed the inspiration of Scripture on a continuum with other forms of literary inspiration, thus downplaying to some degree the uniqueness of the Bible.” Add to this the fact that he “believed there were contradictions and probably errors in the Bible,” and that he “doubted or denied that certain parts of the Bible were historical,” and you have to wonder how C.S. Lewis has gained his rock star status among conservative evangelicals. Oddly enough, Lewis came into criticism from liberals of his day because he was committed to the veracity of the accounts of miracles in the Bible, specifically the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While I acknowledge the fact of his suborthodox stand on Scripture, Lewis’s story of Aslan’s charge to Jill Pole to remember the signs, to repeat them morning and night, to get them word-perfect so she would have them ready when needed is always my go-to story when I need a strong illustration of the importance of Scripture in the Christian life. Clearly, Lewis had a high view of Scripture and lived a better theology than he knew when it comes to the importance of biblical truth for discipleship. Douglas Wilson on Soteriology: The question in this chapter is: Was Lewis “reformed” in his understanding of God and salvation? Wilson comes down on a solid “probably” here, but, of more importance is his exploration of Lewis’s magnificent portrayal of the undragoning of Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as well as his analysis of the masterful storytelling by which Lewis created a world where we see Truth more clearly for the unfamiliarity of the setting. Sarah Arthur has said many things well, and this is one: “When the front door of reason is locked and double-bolted against the gospel, . . . the back door of the imagination often stands wide open.” This is Lewis’s shining contribution to the conversation on salvation, and the fact that he did not claim to be a theologian at all seems to make the question of whether or not he was “reformed” a case of measuring a mile in ounces. Kevin Vanhoozer on Imagination: Laying the foundation of C.S. Lewis’s awakening to the truth of Christ through the baptism of his imagination, largely from the influence of George MacDonald’s writing, Vanhoozer makes a fascinating case for the role of imagination in discipleship and theology. As a disciple, Lewis was, in the words of one biographer, “the most thoroughly converted person he ever met.” As a theologian, he was a committed amateur who loved the map that theology provided for being “taken into the life of God.” He put reason (“the organ of truth”) and imagination (“the organ of meaning”) in their most useful relationship to one another through his use of story. His body of writing promoted a Biblical imagination, which, in Vanhoozer’s words, “sees reality as it truly is.” Randy Alcorn on Heaven: Better than Alcorn’s examination of the end of all things in the Revelation and his enlightening clarification of the term “new earth”; even better than his references to the Chronicles of Narnia — which paint the most compelling picture of the afterlife that I have ever read — is Randy’s own story of finding C.S. Lewis and thereby finding Christ. The account of his hunger for truth and its satiation is (for me) the most important part of this collection of essays. John Piper on the Use of Creation: “[God] likes matter. He invented it.” Beginning with this Lewis-truth, Piper urges his readers to join C.S. Lewis in enjoying all the good and enjoyable things that God has made and to do so with thanksgiving. When we do, it becomes an act of worship, for God has given to us Himself in all of creation. This is not Pantheism, nor is it true that a shriveled and ascetic approach to all that is good in this world is a higher holiness. The wisdom of C.S. Lewis is that Aslan (who is good, but certainly not safe) has given all the delights of His creation so that, by enjoying them, our eyes would turn to the Giver and our hearts would long to go “further up and further in” that we might know Him better.