I was reading about a man who, as a brilliant writer and professor at a prestigious university, got dismissed by colleagues and passed over for advancement in position because of his unapologetic apologetics of Christianity and for the way he spoke openly about things of his born again faith as a believer and follower of Christ.
You might think this is recent, given the increasing hostility expressed in the corporate, political, academic and entertainment industries towards anyone who expresses their faith in Christ, however…it was C. S. Lewis.
He was at Oxford from 1925-1954 and Cambridge from 1954-1963 when he resigned due to terminal illness.
It is fascinating to read the ways he was dismissed in the academic world because of his beliefs and his willingness to write about them.
Here is a quote regarding the atmosphere of higher learning in England at this time.Reminiscences of the Oxford Lewis, James Houston; We Remember C. S. Lewis Essays & Memoirs, edited by David Graham, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001
“But in that culture, we no more talked about religion to our colleagues than we would talk about our kidneys. It was the concealed part of one’s being. We didn’t live in a culture like our North American Culture, where one can unashamedly talk about religion. I suppose one of the reasons for the difference has to do with church attendance. Then, in the fifties, church attendance was only about 5 or 6 percent. It wasn’t a popular thing to go to church. The chapels were becoming the laughing stock of many of the dons (professors).”
First off, can we just take that in for a minute.
This gentleman, James Houston taught at Oxford for twenty-three years until 1970 when he left and became the first Principal of Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.
He is referring to a North American culture that has changed drastically since he penned those words. A North American culture that is seeing a decline in church attendance and a place where going to church is not at all popular.
But the point of this is, Lewis’s writings on faith, despite the ways they were criticized by his fellow academic colleagues, has had a profound effect on many people including one Charles Coulson who attributes the whole concept of Prison Fellowship Ministries to the conviction he received upon having a portion of Mere Christianity read out loud to him by a friend. *
One of the best quotes about Lewis I jotted down is this one [and that is not a typo, the date of Lewis’s writing is 1943]:
“His The Abolition of Man (1943) dissected the moral relativism that has devastated modern education, from the college campus to the elementary classroom… There is a lesson here for you and me, as each of us shoulders the task God has given us. Lewis exhorted Christians to get ready for the Second Coming simply by staying at our post, faithfully doing what we are called to do. And when we do, God will often use our efforts in ways we cannot imagine.”Charles Coulson, C.S. Lewis and God’s Surprises; We Remember C.S. Lewis Essays & Memoirs, edited by David Graham, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001. (*also above paragraph)
Staying our post.
Faithfully doing the thing we are called to do.
Imagine the effects of faithful Christians in these last days not caring if they are promoted or understood or lauded or appreciated.
Charles Coulson did not hear the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the words of C. S. Lewis until quite a decade after the author’s death. The writings of this man continue to speak because they are truth and truth carries on long after we are gone.
Just faithfully doing what they are called to do with grace and kindness and excellence as we wait for Jesus to return.