Why Bother with C.S. Lewis?

cslewis

by Stanley J. Ward

So why bother with C. S. Lewis?

Every year I attempt to answer this question for a lecture hall filled with high school seniors who are more interested in reading text messages than reading books. I don't fault them for their lack of literary taste, as bloggers have taught us to expect three sentence paragraphs, and text messages contain sentences that are missing most of their vowels. In spite of these cultural trends, I still require my senior Bible students to spend an entire semester reading C. S. Lewis. Here's why.

First, he is the best-known English speaking apologist of the 20th century. You may wonder how I know this – by some well-researched and statistically valid social science tool? No. I believe this to be true because everyone I meet at church, seminary, Christian camps, or Christian schools who know what an apologist is, also know about C. S. Lewis. And the vast majority of them love him. I tell my students that when they cite Lewis, they cite a recognizable source. And a recognizable source can be a helpful source when making an argument.

Still, simply being well-known does not make one a dependable source. So I next point out that Lewis was well-educated. Our school is a great books school, meaning we expect students to read Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, Swift, and others. Lewis knew this material – he read the classics in their original languages. He was an Oxford graduate who earned top grades in three different degrees, and he also taught at Oxford and later became a full professor at Cambridge. Not bad for a kid whose formal education began under the tutelage of an insane headmaster…

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