Whenever I pick up a book by Alister McGrath, I expect it to be interesting, informative, and a delight to read. His most recent, If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life, meets all of my expectations.
Professor McGrath previously published a biography of C. S. Lewis, C. S. Lewis—A Life (2013), that added little more than another Lewis biography to the already long list of such. We do not need any more biographies.
What McGrath provides for us in If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewisis an understanding of the role of a Christian worldview in answering those perennial questions of the meaning and purpose of the existence the universe and our role in it. In brief, this is an apologetic for Christianity. It is an argument for the relevance of Christian faith as discovered by C. S. Lewis and revealed in his writings.
As with many thinking Christians through the ages, Lewis confronted head on the limitations of using reason alone to find the meaning of life. Reason alone must fail, because reason cannot alone prove its own reliability, or as Lewis put it in an essay titled, “The Poison of Subjectivism”: “Unless the measuring rod is independent of the things measured, we can do no measuring.”
The answer to the dilemma, as Lewis discovered, is to find truth and meaning in “a world beyond the frontiers of reason.” Clues to this insight are found in our interaction with the world around us, what some refer to as “general revelation.” Meaning is found in understanding that the history of creation is a story, a metanarrative. God’s self-revelation as found in the Bible is a story in three parts—creation, fall, and redemption. It is not a make-believe story that begins with “Once upon a time.” Rather it is the true myth that begins with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (ESV).
Lewis, himself, said it best: “Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s myth where the others are men’s myths: i.e., the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’.”
If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewisis not only a good introduction to C. S. Lewis and his Christian apologetic writings but also a good introduction to Christianity. It would be an ideal gift for those nonbelievers who have read and enjoyed The Narnia Chronicles, and who might, just might, come to know the real Aslan.
I have only one criticism. If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis is a poor title for a very fine book. It leads the prospective reader to expect some sort of fictional dialog between Lewis and the author. The subtitle, Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis, would have been a better choice.
Until next time, be good to all God’s creatures, and always walk under the mercy.