by Tom Arthur
Whenever one disagrees with C.S. Lewis, there is sure to be much fear and trembling. I am a Christian today in large part due to Lewis’ writing, and, if he had the opportunity to respond to me on the subject of pacifism, I suspect I would meet the long shadow of the Great Knock! A fearsome idea if there ever was one.
I should say that I don't have a comprehensive knowledge of Lewis’ view of war, but he has written a very helpful brief essay on the topic titled, “Why I Am Not a Pacifist”, found in The Weight of Glory. I recently read this essay in preparation for a sermon on Memorial Day weekend. I was looking for a robust argument against pacifism, but found only a weak description of pacifism and therefore a weak argument against it. Ultimately Lewis’ seemed unable to imagine a theologically robust and courageous pacifism.
I will attempt to show how Lewis got pacifism wrong by first outlining his argument against pacifism and then bringing Lewis into conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. to show how King’s form of pacifism, active nonviolent resistance, answers Lewis’ objections to pacifism with a more imaginative and theologically robust view of the implications of the gospel.