20th Century Centurion
[22 November 1963]
Almighty God, whose servant C S Lewis received of your grace Singular gifts of insight in understanding the truth in Christ Jesus, and of eloquence and clarity in presenting that truth to his readers: Raise up in our day faithful interpreters of your Word, that we, being set free from all error and unbelief, may come to the knowledge that makes us wise unto salvation: through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
"The idea of the knight--the Christian in arms for the defense of a good cause--is one of the great Christian ideas."
Clive Staples Lewis is truly a 20th Century Centurion and the most popular and influential Christian apologist of our times. Today, in the 21st Century, his legacy continues and millions of people are influenced toward orthodox Christianity through his works and those of his companions, JRR Tolkien and Dorothy Sayers.
CS "Jack" Lewis attended University College, Oxford and there joined the Officer Training Corps. He was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry and volunteered for service on the front. After four weeks of training he was sent to the front under fire in France at the age of 18. Shortly thereafter he came down sick with trench fever and was hospitalized for a short time and then sent up to the front again. This time, however, on his 19th birthday, he was wounded and again evacuated from the front after artillery killed his friend and he received three shrapnel wounds. While convalescing the war ended. Lewis returned to Oxford and completed his studies eventually becoming a Professor of Ancient Literature and a Fellow at Magdalen College in Oxford.
Readers may like to learn more of his war service, one new source is A Morning After War: C. S. Lewis and WWI by K. J. Gilchrist
His "conversion to Christianity occurred over a period of several years – from 1926, the year Dymer was published, when he began to believe in a nebulous power outside of himself, to 1931, when he became a believer in Christ". The writings of GK Chesterton had a great influence on him, as did his conversations with Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. It was during a late evening conversation with these men on September 19, 1931 that planted the seed. Three days later, while Lewis was riding in the sidecar of his brother’s motorcycle, he accepted Christ.
His first Christian publication was Pilgrims Regress in 1932. He continued to write Christian works throughout his life. In 1941, with England at war with Germany, C.S. Lewis was engaged by the BBC to give four broadcasts concerning the "Law of Nature" and "Objective Right and Wrong" specifically addressed to the British military. His popularity was remarkable, and he was soon thereafter engaged again to broadcast talks on "What Christians Believe." His style of lecture and succinct lectures appealed to all Christians regardless of denomination. His last three broadcasts were entitled "Beyond Personality: The Christian View of God." During this period, he started the Oxford Socratic Club where atheists, agnostics, and Christians would gather to discuss the hard questions of faith. Here, he refined his method of counter-attack to become the Century’s foremost Christian apologist.
There are many resources concerning Lewis available on the internet, one of the best that I’ve found is Into the Wardrobe; I heartily recommend it and the books Mere Christianity, the Abolition of Man, and God in the Dock to all (available on the website).
Sayer, George; Jack, CS Lewis and His Times; 1988, Harper & Row, San Francisco
"It is Chaucer's Knight... who comes most often to mind when one remembers C.S. L....He was a chivalric figure, and his imagination ran most richly in the forms of chivalry and adventure."
[Obituary, Cambridge Review as cited in Christian History of Fall 2005]