C.S. Lewis was not a Mormon. But, Mormons love C.S. Lewis. We love to read his books [the Chronicles of Narnia series and The Screwtape Letters always top faves], and we love to quote him. He’s one of the most oft-quoted non-Mormons by Mormons [**rivaled only by his best friend and fellow author, J.R.R. Tolkien, whom I have previously blogged about**]
Tomorrow commemorates the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death (which happened to coincide on the same day as JFK’s assassination). November is also Lewis’ birth month. So, it’s high time for me to pay homage.
Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly called C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as “Jack“, was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. . . best known both for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.
C.S. Lewis is regularly quoted by Latter-day Saints everywhere. He is oft-quoted by General Authorities and prophets in published articles, and over the pulpit during General Conferences. Most recently, the October 2012 session by apostle Quentin L. Cook:
“Commitment and repentance are closely intertwined. C. S. Lewis, the striving, pragmatic Christian writer, poignantly framed the issue. He asserted that Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness; but until people know and feel they need forgiveness, Christianity does not speak to them. He stated, “When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor.” [Mere Christianity]
- Elder Quentin L. Cook, Can Ye Feel So Now?
And now, here are my…
6 Reasons Mormons Love C.S. Lewis
1. His Conversion
We are inspired by his powerful conversion story from a confirmed anti-religion/Atheist/Intellectual into a devout Christian. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) are great believers in the power of God to convert anyone to Christ! [Mormon missionaries, *fistpump*!] :)
2. His Balance:
We revere the way he could perfectly reconcile the importance of exercising faith weighed with using our God-given power to reason with our “sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. … You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.”
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
3. His Intellect:
The concept of pursuing life-long education and gaining knowledge is a hallmark of the Latter-day Saints. We believe that “The Glory of God is Intelligence” (D&C 93:36), and that men and women are “God’s in embryo“. Thus, the more intelligence (truth & light) each of us can gain in this life, the farther along we may progress toward our fullest, divine, potential in the next life. In a very real way, C.S. Lewis is a ‘poster child’ for Mormon intellectualism. At times, he expresses Biblical concepts key to LDS doctrine that many Christians often overlook.
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . . There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. . . it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit —immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
4. His Words of Wisdom:
Not all of his doctrines match up perfectly with ours, however, Latter-day Saints give C.S. Lewis (aka “Jack”) a pass - recognizing he did not have the fullness of the Gospel as we know it. We treasure his ability to so beautifully articulate the cause for being a modern disciple of Christ.
“Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.’ I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good…Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
5. His Perspective
C.S. Lewis inspires us to “keep going”. He reminds us that all of our effort fighting temptations, striving to be better, and enduring through trials has a reason, and is worth the price.
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”
- C.S. Lewis, letter circa 1943 included in Yours, Jack
6. His Storytelling
C.S. Lewis embodied the principle of “loving God with all your heart and all your mind” - understanding that a very important part of our mind is the power of imagination. He had a gift for using allegories and stories to excite the imagination and then creatively teach truth and faith. He understood that The Gospel of Jesus Christ relies on the telling of stories, and parables to enlighten and help convert us.
C.S. Lewis gave us the magical, beloved parable of Narnia!
“You think I am trying to weave a spell, perhaps I am. But, remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them, and you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found – to wake us from the evil enchantment of the worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a Century. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Yep, we Mormons love C.S. Lewis!
I really enjoyed watching a short documentary called “C.S. Lewis: Why He Matters Today”, sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Foundation. I had to share it here! OK peeps, don’t go away! It’s ONLY 24 minutes. I realize that 24 minutes may seem like an “eternity” sometimes during our busy day, but I really hope you will pause and take the time to watch. Or, at least bookmark this page and come back soon. It’s so well done and enlightening.
If you didn’t know & love C.S. Lewis before, I hope you will now! – MoSop