When my two oldest were involved in a local play, Narnia, I first made the connection between a reliable quote generator and the author, philosopher, Christian, man. That was almost 20 years ago.
Since then I've read to my children the Narnia series several times and I have consumed many more of his works. C.S. Lewis is still misunderstood amongst the secular community, as this Times article demonstrates.
They focus on his marketability. Why is C.S. Lewis still generating cash for us? They laud his enduring popularity, neglect his basic message, and go to great lengths to find logical loopholes for which to justify their own dismissive attempts on the baseline Christian message.
By baseline Christian message I mean that although he was a converted Anglican, he tried to avoid most doctrinal entanglements.
Here Oppenheimer quotes Mr. Maudlin, an executive editor at HarperOne, who admits as much but as puzzlement:
"Mr. Maudlin became an evangelical Protestant after reading Lewis in college. “But you meet Mormons or Catholics, and their favorite author might be C. S. Lewis,” he said."
The point is, C.S. Lewis outlined a basic Christian set of ideas and standard of behavior as set forth in scripture. There must be something more complicated here, how could this generate commercial demand, C.S. Lewis manage to package Christianity into something that most people can agree on? This is what drives those people nuts!
The one point that C.S. Lewis returns to is that either Jesus is who he says he is, or he is mad, or evil.
That is where this article seems to intentionally deviate. It is a point that just cannot be left alone.
In “Mere Christianity,” Lewis writes of Jesus: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. 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 a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.”
This famous passage does not, on a second read, make much sense. After all, could not a great moral teacher have messianic delusions? But on a first read, it is quite persuasive, and classic Lewis. It is clear, confident and a bit humorous, and it offers a stark choice as it firmly suggests the right answer.
This concept cannot be left alone. It IS the great stumbling block and rock of offense. And, Oppenheimer's totally weak response, "could not a great moral teacher have messianic delusions?"