Saturday, March 31, 2012

C.S. Lewis gets a pass

During my elementary school years, most of my reading was focused on the Happy Hollisters mystery series. I’m sure you can relate.

Then, in 5th grade, I was introduced to Mr. Lewis. C.S. Lewis, that is, and the Chronicles of Narnia.

Whoa, baby.

And I’d lie in my bed at night. Elbow bent. Head resting in my hand. And I’d read. And then I’d read and read and read some more. Losing myself in a land of kings and queens and talking animals.

And when I got around to book three—The Horse and His Boy … Well, that was pure magic. (When Disney gets around to making this film, I will most certainly lead the charge of middle-schoolers into our local movie theater.)

It was sometime later that I realized Lewis was also a “Christian author.” My dad would sometimes mention him in his sermons. Like the time he talked about The Great Divorce and how condemned people took a bus ride to heaven where they found things quite uncomfortable.

Everyone one I knew at church or school loved C.S. Lewis, and a few of us were completely devoted to him. How long did the map of Narnia hang on my bedroom door?

Mr. Lewis, an Anglican of all things, was welcome in the Church of Christ.

Not everyone, though, was treated so kindly.

Like Billy Graham for example.

I heard people talking about Graham, and they were frustrated.

“Billy Graham NEVER talks about baptism in his sermons. Why not? It’s right there in the Bible as plain as day.”

“Did you know his wife wasn’t even baptized until later in life?”

“I know a man who wrote Billy Graham a letter, asking him if baptism was essential for salvation. Well, that man is still waiting for his answer.”

The message, as I understood it, was that Graham was a bad Christian, or not even a Christian, but that Lewis was a very good man.

C.S. Lewis got a pass.

And, at the end of the day … I’m glad he did.


Right now, I’m reading What Good is God? by Philip Yancey. It has a couple of excellent chapters about C.S. Lewis, if you’d like to check it out.


  1. Here was a conversation at our church in the early 90's. We had a Charles Swindoll book at church for some reason. The preacher and another guy walked by, The preacher picked up the book and said, "Ah, Swindoll". The other guy said, "He'll be in heaven." The preacher then said, "Well, he won't. But his books will be." We all laughed. Was he kidding??? or not???

    1. Dude ... if Chuck Swindoll doesn't make it, then I'm in big trouble. :)

  2. Mike, I've been out of touch but always love reading what you write. You may enjoy this....

    1. Love it, Sheila! Cheryl has laminated my old Narnia map and uses it in her 3rd grade classroom.

  3. Hearsay, but here are two Billy Graham stories I've heard in the past. One I can remember who told me, and I think he could tell me who it was involved from the CoC perspective, but I don't know that I care to ask. Not like I'll ever have an audience with Billy Graham to follow up. Anyway, the two stories.

    One is that some significant CoC preacher has had a heart to heart with Billy Graham on baptism, and that he agrees. However, he doesn't want to preach that because he thinks it would destroy too many people's faith. (That's the one that I think I could track down the name if pressed to. The next one I don't know if I could document, but when you read it I'm sure you'll see that it's very plausible in that you can readily see the actions on both sides consistent with a CoC person interacting with Billy Graham.)

    In the second story, when it got time for the "altar call" and the "heads are bowed and eyes are closed" part gets started (or however Billy Graham conducts it) the CoC person (not sure if it was a preacher or not) gets really loud, "Why don't you tell them what Peter told them? Why won't you preach Acts 2:38?" or words to that effect. Billy Graham's response: "Sit down, you Campbellite!"

  4. Sit down, Campbellite! W-o-w. Don't mess with Bro Graham. :)