C.S. Lewis’ Warning to Apologists

There have been very few more effective Christian apologists in the last century than C.S. Lewis. His writings, both fiction and non-fiction, have brought many to the faith and persevered the faith of many more. When such a man gives a warning to fellow apologists (and all Christians are called to at the very least give apologies (defenses) for the faith c.f. I Peter 3:15), we would do well to listen. When considering apologetics he recognizes a grave danger, interestingly enough a danger that is directly related to a successful argument. He states:

One last word. I found that nothing is more dangerous to one’s faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that Faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate. For a moment, you see, it has seemed to rest on one’s self: as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than a weak pillar. That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality — from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself. That also is why we need one another’s continuous help — remus pro invicem. [Let us pray for each other].” 

Christians, of all varying levels of apologetic engagement, would do well to listen to such a warning. It certainly squares well with the Apostle Peter’s exhortation to set Christ Jesus apart as Lord in your hearts and then do the work of an apologist. 

Notes:

Quote sourced from:

  • C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (1970; repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 103

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