My good friend Dr. Jerry Root teaches a class at the Wheaton Grad School on C. S. Lewis. In the catalog it is listed EVAN 694 but the title is "C.S. Lewis: Apologist to the Head and the Heart." This is a course I wish I could take and someday maybe I will. Jerry is not only an inspiring teacher but he is a great student of all things C. S. Lewis.
In his syllabus Jerry asks, "Why was Lewis so effective?" He answers, "In part, his effectiveness stemmed from his holism; that is, he spoke to the head and the heart." I could not agree more.
C. S. Lewis speaks to my heart in a way that few modern writers do. He wrote out of deep personal experience. He was, as some young people would put it, "real." His journey to the faith, recounted in his own moving story Surprised By Joy, and his subsequent growth into a deeper and more mature faith, are both inspiring and spiritually formative.
But Lewis never sacrificed his profound intellectual skills to be a Christian. He had some serious intellectual barriers to faith and needed to resolve these in order to believe well. He worked at resolving these barriers all his life. I believe he worked at these out of a deep desire to answer his own questions. We just happen to be the beneficiaries of this work. In the process Lewis became adept at presenting the gospel to others and thus he became a kind of reluctant evangelist and world-renowned apologist. He was also a literary genius, employing a number of different genres. This is one reason why his work will remain useful well beyond one or two generations.
Jerry Root says that Lewis models for us a holistic approach to life that employed two approaches to knowing God. The first approach was romantic. This approach considers the qualitative aspects of one's relationship with God. This is the way of story and narrative. This is the way that employs imagination. This is also a reason why Lewis has a particular attraction for young adults more than ever. I have become impressed, much too late in my life I fear, that I never developed this approach well. I am presently writing an new series of ACT 3 Weekly articles (I encourage you to subscribe to these at www.act3online.com) that will show you how we cannot do good theology and real discipleship without using the gift of imagination. I think most academic theologians miss this by a million miles and this is a major reason why the church suffers under this kind of thinking. It gives good theology a really bad name in many circles. It is also a major reason why theology is employed as a weapon in debate more than as rich food to nourish the life and soul of the faithful. The romantic approach is the way of the heart. It accounts for the deepest longings of our heart. It wonders, and ponders and goes outside of the categories of thought that easily limit us.
Jerry Root says the second approach Lewis employed was rational. He was profoundly concerned with the reasonableness of Christianity. This is why he did the kind of apologetics that he did. He wanted to show, both to himself and others, that you need not throw away your intellect to believe the Christian faith. He was not a theologian but he was a master at this way of thinking and thus teaches more theology to ordinary folks than most theologians would accomplish in ten lifetimes.
These two approaches are not antithetical in any sense. They are complimentary and thus they are the two halves of a holistic understanding of God and of living the faith out in everyday life. This is also why Lewis is the "apostle of the modern Christian" in a profound way. Not only must we know God through both approaches but we must become efficient in ministering his gospel to others by using both. Some confuse all of this with intellectualism. This is a category mistake. All people, including those with no formal education at all, must use both their mind and their heart to truly love God. This is true because Jesus plainly taught that we must "Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). Lewis will truly help you do this.