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Proclamation Index

Crucial Answers from Great Minds: C. S. Lewis, Part 2 of a 3-part series

compiled by Daryl E. Witmer During this final quarter of 1998 the PROCLAMATION is featuring excerpts from the teaching of three of the most highly revered definers and defenders of the Christian faith to have lived during the 20th century. This month's answers by the ever-popular C. S. Lewis, born 100 years ago this month, are all sourced in an encyclopedic selection of his work entitled, appropriately enough, The Quotable Lewis, edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root, ©1989 Tyndale House Publishers. For purposes of this series, Lewis' writings are presented here in interview format; there was obviously no actual exchange. C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) was a skilled debater, a prolific writer, and a respected scholar at Oxford University in England for 29 years. He later became a professor at Cambridge University. He converted to Christianity at the age of 33 after first espousing atheism. Many regard Lewis as the most articulate and persuasive Christian writer in the history of the Church, aside from the Scripture writers themselves. Lewis' desire to avoid any fanfare over his death was realized when he died on November 22, 1963, the very day that the American president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. OUR QUESTION How are faith and feelings related when it comes to the Christian experience? C. S. LEWIS' ANSWER Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods "where they get off," you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro... OUR QUESTION Is it ever possible to go overboard in matters of faith? C. S. LEWIS' ANSWER [Many people] believe that a certain amount of "religion" is desirable but one mustn't carry it too far. [Christians] must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. OUR QUESTION Why should anyone believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ? C. S. LEWIS' ANSWER Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God because He said so. The other evidence about Him has convinced them that He was neither a lunatic nor a quack. OUR QUESTION But what are we to make of Christ, really? C. S. LEWIS' ANSWER There is no question of what we can make of Him, it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story. The things He says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, "This is the truth about the Universe. This is the way you should go," but He says, "I am the Truth, the Way, and the Life." OUR QUESTION If God is love, why will so many end up in Hell? C. S. LEWIS' ANSWER There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. OUR QUESTION Has God done everything to save people from Hell? C. S. LEWIS' ANSWER "Please-Aslan," said Lucy, "can anything be done to save Edmund?" "All shall be done," said Aslan. -From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, chapter 12, p124. From The Quotable Lewis, Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root, editors; ©1989 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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