Wednesday, September 16, 2015

C. S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian

Gregory S. Cootsona, C.S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian. Westminster John Knox Press, 2014. 169 pages. ISBN: 978-0-664-23940-4

There are some authors that you read once and there are other authors that you read over and over and read everything they ever published. You even read books that others write about this author. C. S. Lewis is that type of author for me. I read him for the first time my first year at Southeastern Louisiana University. During the Christmas break I read the Chronicles and Narnia and I was caught. At different periods of my life I have re-read many of Lewis' works and continue to do so. Lewis has been a spiritual mentor to me for much of my christian life.

It seems to be the same for the author of C. S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian. The author writes, "I rarely found Lewis simplistic or pat. In fact, in him I found a kindred spirit-- one for whom faith was by no means self-evident or devoid of serious reflection, a person who struggled with Jesus as a unique revelation of God, who took religious faith seriously with all his powers of thought. I found in his writings a fluidity of style and of mind that slowly engaged and even entranced me as a fellow lover of books and soon-to-be undergraduate in comparative literature. And I also found in him a fellow seeker who spent his life in a secular, world-class university, a place where Christianity, if treated at all, was passe, a vestige of Western civilization that had long ago thrown off such infantile beliefs" (14). It was through his reading of Lewis at the university that the author became a Christian and it was through Lewis' writings he has been able to resolve the crises of Christian life.

The purpose of this book is neither biography, or a critique of some or all of Lewis' books. Rather it is to look at the writings of Lewis from crisis situations, as Lewis and the author experienced them. The book is divided into three parts and an introduction. The opening chapters looks at Lewis' life and why he remains so popular since Lewis died over fifty years ago. The first part deals with the crisis of atheism. It includes chapters on materialism, meaningless, and anomie, a term the author does not define. It means social disorder. It is in this chapter he talks of Lewis writings on moral law. The second part addresses the "Crises of Christian faith" with chapters on Jesus and myths, and the "crisis of the Bible." The author's discussion of Lewis' views on scriptures was excellent. The last part of the book deals with "crises of human life." It includes chapters on feeling, suffering, and death. These were my favorite chapters. Lewis was a rationalist and he believed feelings were unreliable. Obedience, not feeling is the important thing. Many times feelings will follow our obedience. Our obedience should not depend on our feelings. It depends on the will, not emotions.

C. S. Lewis and the Crisis of Faith is both an easy and enjoyable read. The author explains crises that most, if not all, Christians go thorough. It shows how Lewis and the author resolved these crises in their own life. After reading the book, the reader should be motivated to read Lewis for the first time or all over again.

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