C.S. Lewis is best known as the author of the children's fantasy classics in the series The Chronicles of Narnia. But he was also an outspoken Christian speaker and writer. He wrote many books on apologetics, which is the argumentative defense of Christianity. He also gave talks on the BBC’s religious broadcast during WWII.
An interesting difference between Lewis’s philosophy and many other theologians and Christian writers is that he actually turned away from his faith in his teens. He didn’t return to religion until his 30s, when he was confronted with faith and guided toward God by his friends—including another famous fantasy writer, J.R.R. Tolkien.
Though his own journey was highly personal and even mystical, Lewis presents Christianity in his writing with purely intellectual and rational language. He makes rhetorical and logical arguments for his faith.
Lewis also deals with Christian ethics and what it means to be Christian.
To fully understand Lewis, you have to know his important works. He wrote a range of books from pure fiction to nonfiction, and all of them have something for the Christian reader.
You can’t have a complete guide to C.S. Lewis without touching on Narnia. This beloved set of children's fantasy books holds entertainment and insight for young and old readers. The books follow a few sets of characters and don’t necessarily keep to one overarching plot. But all of the stories involve and take place in a magical, Alice-in-Wonderland-style alternate dimension called Narnia.
As with most of Lewis’s fiction, the Narnia stories are highly allegorical. There are so many deeper meanings, adults can find new messages about faith in these stories. Whether these books are new to you or you've loved them since you were a child, it's worth reading through them again in your assisted living apartment or home to get some new meanings.
The Screwtape Letters handles faith more directly but is still a fictional story. It deals with themes of temptation through letters written from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood. Screwtape provides advice on how to better tempt Wormwood's “patient,” a Christian man. This satirical approach lets Lewis comment on Christian ways of thinking and how easy it is to fall to temptation from the point of view of devils.
Lewis’s most popular nonfiction book is Mere Christianity, a theological book adapted from his BBC radio talks. In this work, Lewis focuses on the core of Christian beliefs, avoiding any disputed doctrine or denominational beliefs.
He makes his apologetic argument for Christianity clear, first making the case for objective morality, which he then uses to argue for a creator of that morality. He also argues that humans have an innate longing for something higher than this world and they wouldn’t know to long for it if it didn’t exist.
One of Lewis’s earliest nonfiction books, The Problem of Pain addresses one of the popular arguments against God. A common line of atheist thinking goes like this: If God were truly all powerful and all loving, He would be able to and want to stop suffering. So, God must not be one of those things or not exist. Lewis counters this argument with the idea of free will. Humans are allowed to choose their own suffering.
In his nonfiction book The Four Loves, Lewis deals with love from the Christian perspective. He breaks love into four types: empathetic bond, friendship, romance and unconditional “God” love. Empathetic bonds are love that come from familiarity, such as with family members or even pets. Friendship comes from shared interests and values and is a freely chosen form of love. Lewis sees it as one of the most important forms of love. Romantic love of course deals with passion and marriage. Unconditional love is the love God feels for humanity.
Miracles is a nonfiction book that dives into the question of supernatural occurrences and whether or not they’re true. He defines the distinction between naturalists — people who believe the universe always acts in a consistent manner according to its laws — and supernaturalists, who believe in events that take place outside of natural law. He makes the case that for there to be free will there must be the supernatural.
In the Space Trilogy, Lewis takes allegory to the world of sci-fi. The trilogy revolves around the concept that life on other planets has decided to quarantine from earth to prevent getting contaminated by its ideology. The backstory has parallels to the story of Satan’s fall. One of the angel-like planetary rulers rebelled against the rest and was confined to earth.
Whether you're browsing the library at Bethesda Gardens Monument or trying to figure out what to order next on Amazon, consider giving Clive Staples Lewis a go. Pick up a short and fun piece of fiction or a thoughtful nonfiction book full of theological thoughts.