C.S. Lewis and Mere Christianity by Paul McCusker
Author Paul McCusker gets into the crisis that spurned the conversion of C.S. Lews to the Christian faith but also the influences that led him there in his book, C.S. Lewis and Mere Christianity: The Crisis that Created a Classic. Drawing on the rich resources from Lewis’ youth, the turbulence of the war (WWII) and the influence of friends, McCusker draws out the picture of Lewis in a quite extraordinary way. The beauty of such a work is that you get Lewis in all his varied array speaking about his own life and McCusker drawing together the details.
Lewis grew up in rooms full of books and immersed himself in the affairs of the imagination in a very real and tangible way. Led to study under some of the notable atheists of his time, it was his imagination that drew him to study those whose work brimmed with religious optimism and hope. McCusker writes, “The First War nearly clinched Jack’s conviction that God, if he existed, wasn’t “good” in any way at all. But while recuperating from trench fever in a French hospital, Jack read a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton. Though he disagreed with Chesterton’s theology, he was drawn in by the “goodness” of his writing. Both Chesterton and MacDonald (George) baptized Jack’s imagination.” Yet, we know from later on that it was his friend Owen Barfield who held out firm Christian convictions to Lewis and even held his own in argumentation. Further, his conversations with Oxford teachers J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson led him further to discover that Christianity was the true myth.
What is quite remarkable about C.S. Lewis is his uncanny knack from writing about the real concerns of humanity and cutting across all stripes of Christian denominations. In his book, The Problem of Pain, Lewis was met with much criticism from reviewers. Tolkien strongly disapproved of the work, noting that it should not be laypeople tacking theological matters but professional clergy. And yet, as Paul notes, “…The Problem of Pain cut across most denominational lines. Jack was able to deal with his subject without alienating any particular branch of Christianity.” It was this book that led James Welch, frontman for the BBC to go get Lewis for his religion broadcasting.
This is a truly unique book in that it combines history, Lewis’ story, and the way his life helped shaped millions.
Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.