On November 22, 1963 a great man died. “Oh yes,” you say. “That was the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.” Yes, that is true; President Kennedy did die on that fateful day. I recall vividly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. Most people my age or older probably can say the same.
But that is not the great man I am referring to now. That same day, in much less dramatic fashion, the literary world and Christianity lost one of its greatest 20th century contributors. I am speaking of C. S. Lewis. Lewis is one of my all-time favorite Christian writers and I still learn new insights every time I reread some of his works. Recently I read God in the Dock, a collection of his essays on a number of topics. I was amazed how ahead of his time Lewis was in evaluating the spiritual state of western culture (he wrote mostly in the 1940s and ’50s). Recently I found on Townhall.com a collection of some of Lewis’ best quotes. I’d like to share a few of those and some of my favorites here.
- Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
- You can put this another way by saying that while in other sciences the instruments you use are things external to yourself (things like microscopes and telescopes), the instrument through which you see God is your whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred — like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope. That is why horrible nations have horrible religions: they have been looking at God through a dirty lense.
- There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell chose it.
- God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
- I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
- A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the walls of his cell.
- You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society.
- If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
- As far is peace is concerned, I think many would now agree that a foreign policy dominated by desire for peace is one of the many roads that lead to war.
- A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (20 years after writing this famous quote Lewis was asked if his view had changed. His answer was, “I would say there is no substantial change.”)
- One of the functions of marriage is to express the nature of the union between Christ and the Church. We have no authority to take the living and semitive figures which God has painted on the canvas of our nature and shift them about as if they were mere geometrical figures.