C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)
Some, of the most popular types of books, movies, and television programs have to do with crime. Within this type of programming there are specific types of shows. There are the stories that focus on the policemen who are out there pursuing the bad guys. There are the shows that focus on the courtroom, the judges, and the lawyers, and what they do with the bad guys once they are in custody. And for many years on television was the popular CSI program– Crime Scene Investigation. This series focused on those men and women who use the most sophisticated scientific technology to sort through the smallest bits of evidence for clues to what really happened. From whatever angle the story is told, all of these types of programs have the same central theme and goal– the gathering and evaluating and then judging the evidence in an attempt to get at the truth of ‘who did what.’
This all makes for interesting television because the viewer is in on the search, able to sift through the evidence as it comes in, and then make their own conclusions. Science, technology, intuition, knowledge, common sense, experience, a wisdom and justice all play a part in-the investigation and prosecution of a crime. And good, solid evidence is always essential.
By any standard, C. S. Lewis was one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. He wrote with amazing intellect and insight on such varied topics as literature, science, education, theology, politics, culture, and history. He was a giant among giants at Oxford and Cambridge where he spent his life teaching. Lewis loved to debate and seldom lost an argument. His books are still best-sellers a half century years after his death, and still proving challenging to readers who may disagree. And many who have read what he has written about religion have decided to not disagree, but have become believers in Jesus Christ on the basis of Lewis’s powerful arguments for the truth of the Bible and the Christian faith.
C. S. Lewis approached religion with the same intellectual rigor that he approached everything else; with the same methods as a detective would approach a crime scene, as a lawyer would approach an investigation and prepare for a trial, or as a jury would approach a case they had to decide. Lewis wanted to look at the evidence, evaluate it on the basis of his logic, knowledge, and wisdom; and, come to a reasonable conclusion.
Lewis did all that as a young man. At that time, he came to the conclusion that there was probably no God, and if there was, God wasn’t good. The evidence, Lewis then argued, was this whole world, filled as it is with violence, illness, pain, sadness, despair, and death. This could not be the work of a good God. The evidence was there. The verdict was clear. Case closed.
When Lewis was a bit older, he was prompted to reconsider the question. He had some very intelligent friends who were Christians. Not only that, but in his vast reading Lewis began to notice that most of his favorite writers were also Christians; writers like the novelist George MacDonald and the journalist G. K. Chesterton. These were smart people; had they not looked at the evidence? How could they have come to such a different conclusion? Lewis could still beat anyone in a debate on purely philosophical grounds, but then he began to see that there was perhaps more to the evidence than he first thought. Maybe there was more to consider than just the world he could see.
Lewis’s Christian friends and his favorite writers were always pointing to the Bible as evidence. But Lewis had long ago dismissed the Bible as merely another form of ancient mythology, with no more basis in historical fact than the stories of the Zeus, Hercules, Jupiter, and all the other ancient gods.
Nudged along by his friends, Lewis took another look at the Bible, reading it with all his critical abilities as an expert in literature, history, mythology, and logic. As he looked into it deeper, Lewis began to see the Scriptures in an entirely new way. He later wrote how he came to believe they were true, and provided important additional evidence by which to evaluate the world God created. Lewis first came to a general belief in the existence of some kind of God, and then, later came to believe in the Christian belief that God had revealed himself to the world in the personal appearance of his Son, Jesus Christ. Here, Lewis said, was a story like so many ancient stories of a God coming to earth and becoming a man and defeating death. But only in this case, Lewis would begin to argue so persuasively, the story is true. From then on C. S. Lewis viewed the world from an entirely different perspective.
The Bible talks much more about faith than it does about evidence, and faith certainly is the greater part of it. But it is not just faith for the sake of faith. Biblical faith is faith in someone who is there, and in something that really happened. Therefore, it is not out of line to look at the evidence and ask the historical and logical questions. The answers one finds will only take them so far, but it will take them beyond the ignorance of a girl who wrote a letter to the editor of a magazine I recently read. The point of this girl’s letter was that Jesus did not ever exist, so no one needs to be concerned about what he really did or did not say. Well, there are some significant historical realities that she is not aware of, and even a little evidence might remove for her a barrier to faith.
Then again, maybe not. I once read the story of a student in a classroom who was about to lose an argument, but confidently said to his teacher, “Well, just because it’s true, doesn’t mean I have to believe it!” For many people today, personal opinion matters more than truth. What chance does faith, reason, or logic have with such confused thinking?
Yes, we are saved by faith, and not by proof; but it is faith in something that we believe really happened, and such faith requires a certain amount of clear thinking. We have in the New Testament a reliable historical document, that tells the story of some people who lived with Jesus, saw him teach and do many miracles, saw him killed, and then saw him alive again. They tell of what they saw and heard, and they give good reasons for us to have faith in the Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.
II Peter 1:16 — We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Luke 1:1-4 — Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
I Peter 3:15a — In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.