Between Mere Christianity & Just As I Am
To say I like C.S. Lewis is a profound understatement. But then again, who doesn’t?
Even the popular atheist author Christopher Hitchens tips his cap to Lewis’ approach. In an 2009 interview with The Walrus Magazine, Hitchens responded to a question about why he quoted Lewis in a positive light in his book God Is Not Great:
“That’s true. I mean, I’m trying to think… I don’t quote Niebuhr, or any of them. I’m not very impressed by any of them. I quote Lewis against his beliefs; I quote Lewis against the soft option. And I praise him for his moral courage….I remember being struck by that because so many times you come up against the Jeffersonian line, that Jesus may not have been divine, but that his morality was divine. No. It’s a wicked doctrine if it isn’t fed by the force of revelation. And if you don’t believe the world is coming to an end and the son of god is imminent, the stuff is, as Lewis quite rightly says, wicked gibberish. And I’m forced to say that I’m always full of respect for anyone who uses the argument of evidence against interest. Someone who agrees to take things on the chin and say, “this is what I believe and here’s how you find out how it’s wrong.”
C.S. Lewis recognized both the need and the limitations of his intellectual approach as illustrated in the following quotes:
“If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now–not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground–would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen.” (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses)
“Finally, I must add that my own work has suffered very much from the incurable intellectualism of my approach. The simple, emotional appeal (‘Come to Jesus’) is still often successful. But those who, like myself, lack the gift for making it, had better not attempt it.” (C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock)
“Lewis said that his predominately intellectual approach in evangelism was due to the limitation of his own gifts. However, he was very sensitive to and appreciative of what he called the more emotional and more “pneumatic” kind of appeal which he had seen “work wonders on a modern audience.” “Where God gives the gift, the ‘foolishness of preaching’ is still mighty. But best of all is a team of two: one to deliver the preliminary intellectual barrage, and the other to follow up with a direct attack on the heart.” (From footnotes of article posted at The C.S. Lewis Institute)
So, if you are caught somewhere between “Mere Christianity” and “Just As I Am,” perhaps you have found your sweet spot for effective evangelism.