Today, November 29th, is C.S. Lewis’ birthday. (He would have been 112 today). I hope to always celebrate this day by reacquainting myself with some of “Jack’s” great wisdom – perhaps by reading something I still haven’t read of his or re-reading something I hadn’t taken in for some time.
A word of caution is worth mentioning. While I love C.S. Lewis and would say he may have had more influence upon my thinking than anyone outside of the Bible, I am certain he wasn’t always correct. In fact, at some points, I would say he was downright heretical. I think his musings about people of other faiths, for example, (found in “Nice People or New Men” toward the end of Mere Christianity) were outside the bounds of orthodoxy.
Nevertheless, I agree with John Piper that, despite the problems, Lewis helps me more than just about any other writer. Here’s what Piper said at a recent pastor’s conference about Lewis:
“What was it about the work of C. S. Lewis that has helped me so much? The answer lies in the way that the experience of Joy and the defense of Truth come together in Lewis’s life and writings. The way Lewis deals with these two things—Joy and Truth—is so radically different from Liberal theology and emergent postmodern slipperiness that he is simply in another world—a world where I am totally at home, and where I find both my heart and my mind awakened and made more alive and perceptive and responsive and earnest and hopeful and amazed and passionate for the glory of God every time I turn to C. S. Lewis. It’s this combination of experiencing the stab of God-shaped joy and defending objective, absolute Truth, because of the absolute Reality of God, that sets Lewis apart as unparalleled in the modern world. To my knowledge, there is simply no one else who puts these two things together the way Lewis does.”
Allow me to quote something Lewis said at a Question and Answer session, recorded in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (pp. 58-59). When asked, “Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness?” Lewis responded:
“Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness? While it lasts, the religion of worshipping oneself is the best.
I have an elderly acquaintance of about eighty, who has lived a life of unbroken selfishness and self-admiration from the earliest years, and is, more or less, I regret to say, one of the happiest men I know. From the moral point of view it is very difficult! I am not approaching the question from that angle. As you perhaps, know, I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity. I am certain there must be a patent American article on the market which will suit you far better, but I can’t give any advice on it.”
Quite often, Lewis convicts me while also making me laugh. There aren’t too many other writers who do that as deeply and as enjoyably.
Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis.