Forgive me for using my devotion to plug a friend's book, but I believe you'll be glad to be introduced to this resource. My longtime colleague, Dr. Mike Gehring, has just published his first book about C.S. Lewis, The Oxford Evangelist. It's a bit misleading, I realize, to promote a book I haven't read, but I feel as though I have. You see, Mike got his PhD from Manchester University in England on the topic of CS Lewis and evangelism. After many years of conversation with Mike I feel as if I talked through many parts of the manuscript. Or perhaps it's better to say, our conversations give me great anticipation for the final product!
C.S. Lewis was an atheist, though he was baptized as a child in the Church of Ireland. A brilliant professor of literature and philosophy at Oxford he became good friends with J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the famed Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien was a strong Christian whose books communicate an indirect message of faith. His influence on Lewis was instrumental in leading Lewis back to faith.
But Lewis didn't just become a believer, he became an evangelist, or maybe it should be said that he became an apologist. That doesn't mean he apologized for his faith, but rather he offered a defense for the faith. As an atheist whose brilliant intellect couldn't rationalize Christian faith, now he found himself on the other side of the equation using his great mind to communicate the profound truths of Christianity in relevant, meaningful ways. In that sense he became an evangelist writing books like Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce and so many more.
The life of CS Lewis offers many lessons for us today: For those who struggle with faith at times, Lewis' writings offer helpful encouragement from one who shares our doubts. For those who believe, he challenges us to keep growing in our faith. Understanding what we believe goes hand in hand with a faith that is living and real and makes an impact in our daily lives. And for those who not only believe, but feel strong in their faith, we need to be mindful of people whom we can influence for Christ much like Tolkien did for Lewis. After all, where would the millions of people who have been helped by Lewis be were it not for JRR Tolkien? Who is waiting for you and me to be The Indiana Evangelists?
It's like the life of St. Patrick. As a teenager living in England he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland. After six years he managed to escape and return home, but one day he felt called by God to go back to Ireland as an evangelist and share the faith with his former captors. He understood them. He learned their ways and knew how to communicate to them, and because he did, he has forever been venerated as a saint to the Irish. The love, grace and hope Christ brings to the world gets experienced through people who let God use their unique voice to be his Voice.
To learn more about my friend's book, go here. I'll see if we can't have Mike here sometime to do a study and book signing.