Book Review by
In “C.S. Lewis: A Life,” Alister McGrath, professor of theology, ministry and education at King’s College in London and head of the Center for Theology, Religion and Culture, marks the 50th anniversary of Lewis’ death by shedding new light on the late Christian thinker’s life and lasting impact.
One would be hard-pressed to name a figure that has shaped modern Christian thought more than the late English scholar and professor C.S. Lewis. His path from atheist to Christian apologist has been well-documented, and his classic works, including “The Chronicles of Narnia” series and “Mere Christianity,” have allegorically and straightforwardly argued for the legitimacy of the gospel.
In the book’s prelude, McGrath acknowledges that numerous biographies of Lewis already exist. He defends himself as Lewis’ biographer by submitting that he differs from many of Lewis’ previous biographers in that he never knew Lewis personally.
McGrath writes that his lack of personal knowledge or relations with Lewis combined with the fact that he, himself, hails from the same region of the world, attended the same institution of higher education, is a career academic and shares the experience of converting to Christianity from atheism following deep academic study allowed him to study Lewis’ life and work exclusively through the professor’s written works while utilizing a keen understanding of their cultural and spiritual context.
In preparation for writing “A Life,” McGrath read Lewis’ entire catalog, published and unpublished, in chronological order. He submits that this intense study, combined with his impersonal, yet relatable, relationship with Lewis, gives him new and unique insight and understanding regarding the writer’s life.
Caleb Yarbrough is staff writer for the Arkansas Baptist News.