C.S. Lewis

His friends called him "Jack" Lewis and his full name was Clive Staples Lewis; C.S. Lewis as most know him. 

 His words and ideas are used more by general authorities of the church than any other non-member author. His mind was trained well. He started his life thinking without a God and ended it having written a prolific amount about God's reality. His ideas in favor of a God were so profound that they have been used to combat against the atheistic ideas and theories of such famous intellectuals as Psychologist Sigmund Freud and Cambridge Philosopher Bertrand Russell. He is a master with metaphors and paints pictures in the minds of his readers that teach truths in a way that make even the most fearsome atheists question their logic about God--because believe it or not he didn't always believe in a God.

Come learn about his process of going from an atheist to a warrior for divine truth. Discuss with us some of his famous quotations and some of his not as well known sayings that should be known by every person who refers to themselves as a Christian. Come with all you have learned about him or any of his writings. Even just having watched Narnia helps to understand his pervasive impact on world of Christian thinking.

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

 Lewis seems to have had the more forceful personality of the two. Yet you show that Tolkien had a deep influence on Lewis. What did he teach Lewis?

Lewis used a very rational, knock-down technique in his rhetorical approach to philosophical questions and was a deeply imaginative man who regarded his imaginative self as his most basic self. Before he met Tolkien, he became friends with Owen Barfield, and the two of them had long conversations about the imagination. But as a brilliant young man who had decided that the Christian faith of his up-bringing was intellectually untenable, Lewis had no way of bringing together that imaginative side of his nature with his rational side. His rational side told him that while stories might serve to amuse, they couldn't very well teach you about the things that really mattered.

What Tolkien did was help Lewis see how the two sides, reason and imagination, could be integrated. On September 19, 1931, C.S. Lewis was not a Christian. However, the next day he became one. During the two men's night conversation on the Addison Walk in the grounds of Magdalen College, Tolkien showed Lewis how the two sides could be reconciled in the Gospel narratives. The Gospels had all the qualities of great human storytelling. But they portrayed a true event—God the storyteller entered his own story, in the flesh, and brought a joyous conclusion from a tragic situation. Suddenly Lewis could see that the nourishment he had always received from great myths and fantasy stories was a taste of that greatest, truest story—of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

So Tolkien brought the imagination right into the center of Lewis's life. And then, through a gradual process, with the example of Tolkien's Silmarillion tales and Lord of the Rings before him, Lewis learned how to communicate Christian faith in imaginative writing. The results were Narnia, the space trilogy, The Great Divorce, and so forth.

What about Lewis's impact on Tolkien?

Tolkien was a private man who, when he met Lewis, had written his mythic tales for a private audience. He had very little confidence that they could speak to a wider audience. But from the beginning of their relationship, Lewis encouraged his friend to finish and publish his stories. He delighted to hear Tolkien read chapters of his epic trilogy, as he completed them, at meetings of their Oxford reading group, the Inklings. And Tolkien was immensely encouraged by those meetings. It spurred him on.

There were some instances in which Lewis gave Tolkien something to think about. In his space trilogy, Lewis introduced the concept of Hnau, the embodiment of personality and rationality in animal and vegetable beings. This seems to have influenced the creation of the Ents in Lord of the Rings. There is also evidence that Tolkien pondered a lot on the Screwtape Letters. For the most part, however, Tolkien was extremely annoyed at Lewis's popularizing of theology. He thought theology should be left to the professionals. Tolkien also disliked the Narnia series, feeling it was both theologically heavy-handed and artistically slapdash—an unfair judgment of what were among the most beautifully crafted of Lewis's works, and probably the most likely to survive the next hundred years as "classics."

Though there are Volumes of quotes by him, here are a few we may discuss:

  • "Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live forever. Perhaps my bad temper or jealousy are gradually getting worse--so gradually that the increase in seventy years will not be very noticeable. But it might be absolute hell in a million years: in fact, if Christianity is true, Hell is precisely the correct technical term for what it would be..." (Mere Christianity, p. 74)
  • "If we insist on keeping Hell we shall not see Heaven; if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest most intimate souvenirs of Hell" (The Great Divorce p. viii).