by David C. Downing
In an introduction to a broadcast given on 11 January 1942, which was later deleted from the published text, Lewis explains why he was chosen to give the talks: “…first of all because I’m a layman and not a parson, and consequently it was thought I might understand the ordinary person’s point of view a bit better. Secondly, I think they asked me because it was known that I’d been an atheist for many years and only became a Christian quite fairly recently. They thought that would mean I’d be able to see the difficulties—able to remember what Christianity looks like from the outside.” Do you think Lewis has succeeded in representing the ordinary person’s view of Christianity? In what ways might his atheism and later conversion have affected his relationship to Christian beliefs? Do his convictions gain weight because he struggled to arrive at them?
In the introduction to his Broadcast Talk given on 11 January 1942 (not included in the text of Mere Christianity), C. S. Lewis explained that he was asked to give the talks in order to provide a lay person’s point of view, not that of a parson. This strategy might have backfired in many cases, as there’s an old saying, “There is no greater ignorance than that of an expert talking outside his field of expertise.” Fortunately, Lewis knew his theology and his church history, and he also consulted clergy from a variety of denominations before delivering his radio talks.
|Lewis with his brother Warnie|
With his usual shrewdness, Lewis put his finger on one of the key reasons for his success as a Christian apologist. A careful look at Lewis's teens and twenties reveals that he did not become an effective defender of the faith despite the fact that he spent so many years as an unbeliever. Rather his Christian books are compelling precisely because he spent so many years as an unbeliever.