Back in the middle of the twentieth century a thin book was published by C.S. Lewis entitled Mere Christianity. The book was an attempt to explain Christianity in such a way that it be easily understood by a mass audience. The book was very successful. Other authors have tried their hand at the same task since but no one has come close yet. Why?
An article in the Wall Street Journal, which is focused on a possible successor to Lewis’ work suggests that the reason may be because of Lewis’ shortcomings more than his talents.
Lewis’s real ambition was, he revealed in his letters and diary entries, to be numbered among the great English poets. He didn’t get there. Unlike his Narnia novels, Lewis’s poems are largely forgotten. But when we marvel at a metaphor or memorable passage in “Mere Christianity” — such as the famous claim that Jesus, given what he said, must have been either a lunatic or the very Son of God — we are the beneficiaries of a gifted dreamer’s not quite successful quest. And maybe that’s as good as it gets.
Perhaps, just as the Portuguese proverb evocatively suggests, “Our God is a God who can draw straight with crooked lines,” Lewis’ success tells us something more about God than we might otherwise expect.