Clive Staples Lewis has meant many things to many people. For some of us, he was the magician who captivated our childhoods (and adulthoods) with incomparable fantasy fiction, who populated our imaginations with wardrobe-portals, fauns, talking animals, space travel, Arthurian legends, and profound myths about the ways of God in the world. For others, he was the author of lucid, sensible, and irresistible works of Christian apologetics, an incisive intellectual fueled by the deep emotional and spiritual truths of Christianity. He was, and continues to be, both, and much more. His figure towers over twentieth-century Christianity, and American Christianity in particular—a giant of our faith who still has something to say for our time.
November 22nd marks the fiftieth anniversary of C.S. Lewis’s death. This event is especially significant because Lewis will be given a place in Westminster Abbey’s prestigious Poet’s Corner, forever ensuring his place in the history of English letters. The writers over at Christ and Pop Culture are remembering Lewis’s legacy this week through reflections on their favorite books. (You should check out all of them, but start with this one on A Grief Observed by my friend Marty Jones.) We hope to have some of our own reflections later in the week. For now, I’ll leave you with these insightful words on the Trinitarian nature of God from the classic Mere Christianity, words which echo themes permeating the whole of Lewis’s work:
All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that ‘God is love’. But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean ‘Love is God’. They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to be treated with great respect. Perhaps they are: but that is something quite different from what Christians mean by the statement ‘God is love’. They believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else.
And that, by the way, is perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: that in Christianity God is not an impersonal thing nor a static thing—not even just one person—but a dynamic pulsating activity, a life, a kind of drama, almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.… The pattern of this three-personal life is … the great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality.