C.S. Lewis, one of the most renowned Christian writers, was born in Ireland in 1898 and later moved to England where he lived for most of his life.
Lewis’s journey to Christianity is considered as one of the greatest intellectual conversions of modern times.
He initially described himself as an atheist before converting to Christianity at age 33. Growing up, he lost his mother when he was just nine years old which made him very bitter towards religion from a young age.
“I maintained that God did not exist.”
However, over time his views began to change due to several encounters with religious beliefs including conversations with fellow writer J.R.R Tolkien who introduced him more thoroughly into Christian thought.
“In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in and admitted that God was God… perhaps that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England”. – C.S. LewisThis article will explore further what led C.S. Lewis onto this path from being someone who claimed they didn’t believe in anything supernatural at all through those experiences before eventually fully embracing faith.
Early Life Struggles
C.S. Lewis had a rough childhood and faced numerous struggles while growing up.
“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”
He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1898. His mother passed away when he was just nine years old leaving his father to raise him and his older brother alone. C.S. Lewis developed a passion for reading books at an early age which acted as an escape from the harsh realities of life that he experienced.
In addition to losing his mother at such a young age, C.S Lewis also went through several illnesses during childhood including lung infections and gastroenteritis which left him weak physically.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny.”
C.S. Lewis’ early life was full of difficulties but he did not let it dampen his spirit or enthusiasm towards learning new things.
The loss of his mother especially affected him deeply – “With my Mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil & reliable disappeared from my life.” However, this tragedy ultimately influenced his ideas about Christianity later on: “…she died before I became sufficiently adult to understand much, ” wrote Lewis years later; “and whether her death really influenced me more than other events which took place in those very receptive years is hard to say.”
“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn fast.”
These experiences shaped C.S. Lewis’ character and built resilience within himself both mentally and spiritually allowing him to face future challenges with determination.
C.S. Lewis had a difficult childhood which shaped his views on God and religion.
“I was beaten, abused, frightened mornings, afternoons and evenings.”
This is what he said about his life as a child living in Belfast with distant parents. His mother died when he was just nine years old from cancer, leaving him alone to cope with the tragic loss. This event led Lewis to question the existence of God because it seemed unfair that such terrible things could happen to good people.“When you are happy…you often forget Him. But sorrow makes Him vividly present”, wrote C.S. Lewis.
Through these feelings of grief and questioning, Lewis found himself seeking answers through literature and philosophy.“Early death has been part of my experience, ” he once wrote, “and for quite a long period very nearly dominated my imagination.”
In spite of this early tragedy, or perhaps even because of it, C.S. Lewis would go on to become one of the most celebrated Christian apologists in modern history. Through wrestling with doubt and despair- emotionally fueled by the enduring pain stemmed from all those losses- he ultimately came out victorious over this negativity given how passionately devoted an individual can be towards Christendom by means of advocating deeply spiritual-based relationships dependent upon faithfulness plus self-sacrifice during times both easy & tough.
“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going – either to Heaven where Heavenly father resides or else – to Hell, ” writes CS lewisOverall, C’s sLewis’s experiences as a child molded him into who he became later in life – someone passionate about Christianity and determined to share its message with others despite any tragedies faced along the way.
The academic pressure is a well-recognized issue faced by many students, especially those pursuing higher studies.
A perfect example of how exhausting academics can be is the story of C.S. Lewis’s journey towards Christianity.
“I gave in and admitted that God was God and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”
C.S. Lewis’s path to faith was not easy as it was overshadowed by his immense academic load at Oxford University.
In 1925, he began teaching English language and literature while researching literary theories during his free time. The pressure increased when he became Professor of Medieval Literature at Cambridge University in 1954.
All these duties required great mental effort—identifying patterns across texts often requires deep focus along with careful reading comprehension—which caused an increase in emotional exhaustion for Lewis. He found himself dreading work that previously invigorated him — so much so he considered quitting academe on several occasions.
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, “
“But it is more common and also harder to bear”
An excess of study contributed directly to such exasperation; leaving little energy or interest behind for other life necessaries like relationships or hobbies which further feed life enrichment.”
This experience led him ultimately toward seeking solace through spirituality.
C.S. Lewis, a renowned British writer and academic, was an atheist for many years of his life before he became a Christian at the age of 32. His journey towards Christianity is an interesting one as it involved intense emotional turmoil.
“I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed.”
Lewis’s mother died when he was young which left him deeply saddened and furious with the world. This event led to a disbelief in religion altogether. In some way, his atheism gave him comfort because accepting there wasn’t any divine being relieved him from feeling helpless about death.
In spite of this relief brought by nihilistic beliefs, depression still lingered on Lewis’ mind throughout his early adulthood; often loneliness would accompany melancholy thoughts – even writing failing to offer complete respite from them:
“No matter how much I might try to keep Him out through my life theories… He came knocking all the same.”
This struggle continued until he formed strong relationships with other authors including J.R.R Tolkien who played a tremendous role in encouraging Lewis on re-considering Christianity instead of falling for general skepticism or moral relativism while teaching literature espousing truth-beauty-goodness kept under generous scope rather than legalistic strictures or mere instincts.
“The story-maxims like fairy tales contain both matters of fact (truth) but far beyond just bare facts since they enchant our hearts bursting into flames inside each person’s own imagination validating beauty plus real purposes leading us back again unto their Divine author Jesus Christ.”
Another significant turning point happened during World War One where Lewis found himself serving his nation. His experiences of war brought him closer to the concept of God, and he developed an appreciation for faith’s capacity to comfort people in times of anguish.
Overall, C.S. Lewis’ journey towards Christianity was not a straightforward one but involved complex emotional struggles and influences from other renowned writers that helped him see how Christ could be the answer to his depression.
Encounter with Christianity
C.S. Lewis, a renowned writer and scholar of the 20th century, was an atheist in his younger years but later on converted to Christianity. His journey towards faith wasn’t instantaneous; instead, it took him several years to develop an interest in religion.
In his book Mere Christianity, he wrote about how various experiences led him closer to God’s existence. He had been interested in mythology since childhood which eventually made him question whether there is any truth behind these myths or not.
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”– C.S Lewis
The First World War also played a crucial role in shaping C.S. Lewis’ perspective as he witnessed the horrors and tragedies of war firsthand.
“What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring”–C.S Lewis
In addition, his encounters with Christian thinkers like J.R.R Tolkien and G.K Chesterton pushed him further towards questioning his own beliefs regarding faith and spirituality.
All these events collectively led C.S Lewis down the path of conversion from atheism to Theism first before becoming entranced by Christ:
“You can shut Him up for a fool…you can spit at Him and kill Him as demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord Beside Himself there is no other option”-C.S lewis
The road leading toward believing all Jesus taught without having objections forced upon them may have taken time but even though he died, Lewis continues to be an influential figure for both atheists and Christians alike.
Meeting J.R.R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien was one of the most renowned Christian authors of all time, whose works inspired numerous people to embrace Christianity. His friend, C.S Lewis also known as Jack became a devoted follower of Christ due to Tolkien’s influence on him.
“What made me a Christian was reading Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man and realizing that it meant something like fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
C.S Lewis frequently discussed theology with J.R R.Tolkien during their legendary conversations about myths and legends while strolling in Magdalen College at Oxford University where both served as professors.
In his memoir ‘Surprised by Joy’, Lewis writes reverently about how much he respected Professor Tolkein for surprising him with Christianity’s innate beauty through allegories woven into “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy books.
“You look at trees and label them just so (tree) when in fact each is different from the other… Someone like myself sees a bunch of trees which he has learned to call ‘trees’: I shall probably never learn any secrets about them…. In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity.”
Tolkien gently guided C.S.Lewis towards an appreciation for Catholicism—the faith tradition underlining continuity between humankind—as opposed to established linguistic techniques e.g., Old Norse—to explain intriguing stories passed down among human societies globally.. He helped demonstrate timeless insights available in religious texts extending beyond historical times or even academic teaching publications.
The unexpected friendship catalyzed by shared interests beautifully illustrates the miracle of good friends coming together at precisely the right time in their spiritual journeys. Their discussions illuminate how people of seemingly very different backgrounds and academic specializations can gain help from a friend to solve personal problems.
Reading George MacDonald
If we want to understand how C.S. Lewis became a Christian, one of the key figures that influenced him was Scottish author and poet George MacDonald.
In fact, Lewis once said about him:
“I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.”
This is significant because while Lewis had been raised in a religious household, he found himself turning away from Christianity during his early adulthood due to personal tragedies such as World War I and the death of his beloved mother. However, after taking up literature studies at Oxford University, he discovered authors like MacDonald who presented Christianity through their own literary works.
You may be wondering what it is about MacDonald’s writings that so captivated Lewis’ attention?
Beyond providing entertainment for readers with stories like The Princess and Curdie or At the Back of the North Wind (which are still popular today), these books contained deeper truths underlying them. They often invited readers on spiritual journeys encouraging them towards goodness, truthfulness and love – values central to Christianity seen through allegorical tales containing metaphorical symbols- depicting two levels meaning one surface level accessible by everyone & other deeper hidden-level understandable by Christians alone.Takeaway
- George Macdonald’s impact on C.S.Lewis proved invaluable till date inspiring generations via godly morals cloaked under fiction genres.
The Turning Point
As we have seen, C.S. Lewis’s journey to Christianity was anything but straightforward. His early life had been marked by tragedy and loss which led him to become an atheist before eventually becoming a theist while he was at Oxford.
It wasn’t until a few years later that his conversion to Christianity took place. This momentous event in his life has come to be known as “The Turning Point”. It occurred on September 28th, 1931, when Lewis went out for a late-night walk with two of his friends: Hugo Dyson and J.R.R. Tolkien.
“When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.”
This famous quote from Lewis himself encapsulates what happened during this fateful night. As they walked and talked about many things including mythology and literature, suddenly something clicked within Lewis’s mind.”All my defenses – all my walls – came crashing down, ” he wrote.
Lewis realized that faith isn’t only reasonable; it makes sense. He saw how silly it was to reject beliefs simply because one can’t understand them fully or rationally justify them.
“I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken… What mattered most was obedience… Complete surrender.”In conclusion, The Turning Point changed everything for C.S.Lewis.This encounter transformed him into someone who wanted nothing more than people not missing-out Jesus’s love for them just like he almost missed-out.Most importantly, in tomorrow being so passionate about finding truth & seeking God..he published some world-famous books wherein readers agree with him-to-date.He challenged readers globally- religious alike-to consider the Gospel’s claims and to make an informed decision, just as he did.
The Realization of Joy
The legendary C.S. Lewis once said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”. His journey was not an easy one; he went through trials that led to his realization and acceptance of true joy found in Christ.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis
Lewis grew up with strong Christian beliefs taught by his mother but later fell away from it during his teenage years. He became agnostic, believed there could never be any empirical proof for God’s existence until he realized how much love affected him when World War I started where he lost some friends. That event pushed Lewis towards Christianity as he slowly regained faith identifying himself now as a “theist” or someone who believes that God existed somewhere out there but not involved with human affairs just yet. He then began reading works on philosophy and religion which helped rekindle his belief leading him to eventually accept Jesus.
“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.” – C.S. Lewis
It wasn’t overnight though—his pursuit didn’t stop after accepting Christianity as intellectual hurdles challenged what misgivings about the Bible hit still resulting Him being happy despite circumstances at last possessing something beyond fleeting happiness – pure joyfulness only possible via the grace of The Lord Himself reminding everyone Of Looking For Joy Not In Material Things But In Heavenly Surrender Which Provides True Fulfillment Evident When One Experiences It. Joy cannot be pretended nor counterfeited, so others would do well seeing the journey of Lewis to accepting Christ and obtaining such a reward many humans yearn – joy.
The Influence of G.K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, popularly known as G.K. Chesterton, was a renowned English writer and journalist who lived from 1874 to 1936. Many prominent writers such as C.S Lewis looked up to him for inspiration.
“The riddles which were hidden from me became crystal clear after reading Chesterton’s writings”
Chesterton’s writing style greatly influenced C.S Lewis’ literary career and his conversion to Christianity in the early twentieth century.
“He saw with his mind what I had only seen with my emotions until then;” said Lewis about how he found truth in religion through Chesterton’s works.
One of the significant ways that G.K.Chesterton inspired Lewis was via storytelling; accordingly, he taught him that fictional stories carry a lot of meaning when written thoughtfully.”Fairy tales do not tell children dragons exist, ” wrote Chesterson “Children already know dragons exist.. Fairy tales tell children dragons can be killed” These words helped shape C.S Lewis theory on literature use it could be used an evangelism tool.he went ahead and authored fantasy novels like “The Chronicles of Narnia” which made religious themes more accessible to people around the world
In conclusion, It is easy to see why despite being deceased two centuries ago,.GK chestertons still retains relevance today, his courageous way at holding point-of-view has been compared by some scholars as unheard similar you are yet build A considerable case.G.k Chesrtorn influence stretch far past this life time into many others including humans strive become spiritual beings
The Role of Reason and Imagination
C. S Lewis, one of the most influential Christian writers in history, was once an atheist. He used to be a committed materialist who believed that everything could be explained by physics and chemistry alone.
“I was at this time living like many atheists; in a whirl of contradictions.”
However, his view changed when he started using both reason and imagination together. In his book “Miracles, ” Lewis wrote:
“For my part I distrust all generalizations about women, favorable and unfavorable, masculine and feminine – all alike…. To me it seems a fatal mistake to generalize: they are individuals…”
Lewis argued that reason is necessary but inadequate on its own because it only deals with what we already know or can deduce logically from what we know. Meanwhile, imagination is essential for discovering new ideas beyond the limits of our current knowledge.
In order to believe in Christianity as a reasonable faith through reasoning, C.S Lewis had to abandon atheism after examining the arguments against it critically.
“A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.”
Lewis believed that people should not blindly accept something just because others say so or simply reject opposing views without considering them first.
It wasn’t until Lewis combined these two faculties that he began moving towards Christianity as he saw things more clearly – seeing God’s fingerprints all over nature itself made him realize how much sense believing in His existence truly did make!
This reasoned basis allowed him also then fully embrace Jesus Christ as Redeemer life-transformed really unexplainable phenomenon- miracle according-to-Lewis.
In other words, for C. S Lewis, reason and imagination are both important in discovering truth and acquiring faith- something that he personally experienced through his own life journey towards Christianity.
After C.S. Lewis embraced Christianity as his faith, it had a profound impact on him and also the world.
Lewis’s memoir “Surprised by Joy” shows how he felt about converting to Christianity:
“In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”
Despite initially possessing doubts towards his newfound belief system, once he became certain of his beliefs – like a true theologian- He wanted to be able to share what brought him joy with others. This led to Lewis’s creation of some of our generation’s best writings surrounding religion including “The Chronicles of Narnia”, Mere Christianity”, “The Problem Of Pain”, ”Miracles”. Through these works C.S. Lewis shared advice beyond evangelism itself but spiritual nourishment which we can still partake until today.
C.S. Lewis’ journey into Christianity has inspired generations not only because they can learn something new from someone else’s experience but because even powerful minds take time before fully committing particularly when similar people have equal power influence around them. For instance he took comfort from J.R.R Tolkien (who later became an instructor at Oxford), who supported this decision despite being Catholic himself.
In conclusion, through embracing his Christian faith fully following much reflection had given birth significant transformation both intrinsically personally externally publicly right up until present day ever since publication more than half-a-century ago. And thanks partly due peer support whose zeal for faith-filled renewal broke down barriers anew every morning twice-as-strong newly-formed kinships where seekers continue opening hearts without hesitation or failure reigniting same fervor within each other frequently everyday long after transcendent inspiration initially came into their lives though this amazing written work.
The Conversion Experience
C.S. Lewis, the renowned writer and scholar, had a profound experience that led him to convert to Christianity. It was not an easy path for him as he struggled with his beliefs for years before finally surrendering to God.
“You must picture me alone in that room…with nothing particular to do….I began to pray. I felt myself being drawn into something of which I could never have dreamed.”
This quote from C.S. Lewis reflects the moment when he first encountered God’s presence during a restless evening in 1931 at his home called “The Kilns”. During this moment of deep contemplation, he realized there was something beyond himself and the universe—there was meaning and purpose behind it all.
This realization started him on a journey towards faith where he grappled with important questions about life and spirituality. He knew he couldn’t keep this inner conflict at bay forever but wasn’t sure how or why Christian belief systems would give answers until one day:
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust…..But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line…..Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple”
Through reading the works of various Christian authors including G.K Chesterton who played significant roles in shaping his religious philosophy during those challenging times; He slowly came around believing in Christ by choosing what became core convictions like- “Faith is holding onto things your reason once accepted despite your changing moods” as well respecting Jesus teachings much more wholeheartedly than before based on reasoning that leaves him satisfied:
“I am trying here t slay based on my own reasonings the person I am at present: who is still largely driven by his likes and dislikes, his vanity and his pride.”
C.S. Lewis’s conversion may have been long overdue but it was a pivotal moment in his life that led him to monumental change both internally and externally.
The Impact on His Writing
C.S. Lewis’s conversion had a significant impact on his writing that can be observed in the themes, tone, and messages of his works.
The Chronicles of Narnia, for instance, is filled with Christian imagery and symbolism. As Lewis himself once said: “The whole Narnian story is about Christ.” The character of Aslan represents Jesus as a sacrificial savior who dies to redeem others from evil. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, we see Edmund betraying his siblings just as Judas betrayed Jesus to be crucified.
“I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which paralyzed much of my own religion since childhood…Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation snuffs out desire.”
In other words, through storytelling, C.S. Lewis found a way around people’s cognitive barriers towards Christianity; by subconsciously leading them towards religious ideas instead of pushing beliefs onto them overtly.
Lewis also wrote books specifically discussing Christianity like Mere Christianity, where he explained what he believed were fundamental aspects and values shared across different denominations:
“Christianity has not championed animal rights simply because there was no point in doing so while everyone agreed that animals are simply things-that-we-can-do-what-we-like-with.”
Through these kinds of texts – fiction and non-fiction alike -, C.S.Lewis became instrumental in introducing countless readers around the world into exploring various concepts within Christianity while simultaneously reinforcing the faith of many others. In fact, critics believe that his writing’s ability to inspire people long after he died is a testament to how influential and consequential C.S.Lewis was as both an author and Christian apologist.
The Legacy of His Faith
C.S. Lewis became a Christian in 1931 after spending many years as an atheist and agnostic. Lewis’s journey to faith began with conversations he had with friends, including J.R.R Tolkien, who were committed Christians.
“I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when eventually I did, I realized that I had been wrong in thinking atheism the only alternative to Christianity.”
After converting to Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote extensively on his Christian beliefs and produced works such as Mere Christianity which remains popular today among those seeking answers about their own faith.
“Christianity is not the belief that God has made Himself known through specific revelatory acts culminating in the Incarnation: it is the belief that He has done so”
In addition to writing about his faith, C.S. Lewis also lived out his beliefs by advocating for social justice issues such as poverty reduction and ending nuclear weapons proliferation during World War II.
“It is a serious thing…to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which…if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.”
C.S. Lewis understood how important living life under one’s principles was because if they serve no functional purpose other than personal gains then what point do they truly contain? When someone embraces honesty or love over greed or lies it shouldn’t matter whether it affects them personally tangibly materialistically; value itself comes from being inherently important, despite materialistic gains or losses.
C.S. Lewis’s faith and writings have had a tremendous impact on generations of Christians seeking to grow their relationship with God by finding answers through his works that still resonate today as much as it did in those times.
Frequently Asked Questions
What was C.S. Lewis’s religious background prior to becoming a Christian?
C.S. Lewis grew up in the Church of Ireland, but he became an atheist during his teenage years after witnessing firsthand the horrors of World War I and suffering personal losses. He remained an atheist for several years before gradually returning to Christianity.
What events or experiences led C.S. Lewis to question his atheism?
Several factors contributed to C.S. Lewis questioning his atheism, including reading works by George MacDonald and G.K Chesterton that challenged his worldview, as well as having discussions with friends like J.R.R Tolkien who held strong Christian beliefs.
How did C.S. Lewis’s friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien influence his conversion to Christianity?
C.S. Lewis’s close relationship with J.R.R Tolkien played a pivotal role in his return to Christianity since it sparked many intellectual conversations regarding faith which helped him understand the philosophical underpinning behind belief systems better
What role did the writings of G.K. Chesterton play in C.S. Lewis’s conversion?
Chestertonian ideas had deep connections on CS intellect turning skeptic thoughts on their surface some proper content treated exceptional whimsy about things observed superficially getting involved further down immoderately especially upon moving towards its moral consequences thereby playing magnanimous gestures opening horizons hence easing transition into angelican religion bringing readers argumentative reasoning through storytelling personally witnessed impeding threats from world wars inspiring un-preciptable nature yet pre-supposing trust between one’s self & art giving context while christ attested historicity prevailing over other mythologies virtually scripting the essay’s epilogue.
How did C.S. Lewis’s conversion to Christianity impact his writing and literary career?
The influence of C.S.Lewish Christian beliefs surfaced in writings formulating deep theological messages through diverse modes from poetry like “The Four Loves” & Narnia series children books illustrating human deficiency such as temptation etc., apologetic literature having philosophical perspective featured in Mere Chritianity exploring connection between different denominational belief systems elevating him onto platform with credibility far outweighing all other authors within genre even after death because manuscripts exceed atheological believers bias towards creating fictitious realms being imaginative tools truth illumination