C. S. Lewis: Defender of the Faith
By Donald T. Williams
Many have argued about the validity of C. S. Lewis’s apologetic arguments. (They are sound.) This essay will look at Lewis as a practical role model for winsome Christian apologists. What made him a good one? He understood the evangelistic situation we face in the modern world, in which sin and true moral guilt are missing concepts and the biblical worldview a foreign country to most people, yet he was not tempted to alter the gospel to make it more palatable to the evolving audience. He understood how to communicate abstruse ideas and linear arguments in a way that normal human beings can follow. He understood that good arguments are a necessary but not a sufficient condition of an effective apologia. He knew how to make his arguments meaningful by calling imagination to the aid of reason and by putting them in the context of a life of loving service. This combination of features made him the greatest apologist of the twentieth century. The conclusion for us is to “go thou and do likewise.”
Many scholars have taken pen in hand to discuss the validity of C. S. Lewis’s apologetic arguments. I have been one of them.1 But here I will address what we can learn practically about apologetics as Christian ministry from Lewis’s approach to defending the faith. A fresh look at his approach could be useful to both evangelists and apologists in the twenty-first century.
C. S. Lewis did not talk a lot about evangelism. He just did it. He often did it indirectly, but it got done. There is no direct appeal for conversion in the broadcast talks that became Mere Christianity, but there is an exposition of the Christian faith designed to elucidate its attractiveness as an answer to the problems of fallen man as well as to underscore its truth. And conversion was often the result, as famously with Charles Colson. But while Lewis’s evangelism may have been indirect, it was not unintentional…
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