A couple of weeks ago I watched Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit at an IMAX cinema with Dolby sound and 3-D glasses. It was a pretty powerful movie if you like non-stop action where good wins out. As you might know, The Hobbit was written by J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the trilogy Lord of the Rings, too. These novels, describing the battle between good and evil, are thrilling mythologies about Middle Earth and beyond and I highly recommend both the books and the movies.
What many people do not know about J. R. R. Tolkien is that this Oxford educated professor was a Christian writer who met with a group of other scholarly writers known as the Inklings. Many, though not all, of these writers were also persons of faith, including Dorothy Sayers and T. S. Eliot. But one of the group was a deep skeptic and his name was Clive Staples Lewis.
C. S. Lewis was to become one of the great Christian apologists of the twentieth century, writing books for children and adults alike, including such best sellers as Mere Christianity and the Chronicles of Narnia. But had it not been for Tolkien and his friends, Lewis might never have seen the light.
Lewis, like some brilliant people, had trouble accepting the claims of Christianity. He believed in love and tried to practice kindness and the other virtues, but the idea of God becoming flesh in Christ and Jesus being the true God from true God was far too impossible for him to believe. And these propositions were easy for one so brilliant to debunk, at least until he came into contact with other equally brilliant scholars who professed and practiced a deep faith in Christ.
One evening Lewis, Hugh Dyson and J. R. R. Tolkien ate dinner together and talked late into the evening about Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus and how God became incarnate in this child. Lewis simply could not grasp this, but his friends gently, firmly pressed the argument forward, speaking in the scholarly language that Lewis needed to be convinced.
He finally realized that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus was a reality that he could and must accept.
Sometime in the early hours of that stirring conversation Lewis grasped that the claims of the Christian faith were also true for him. He wrote that he had “passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ -in Christianity.”
If you find yourself looking for one last Christmas gift for that person you overlooked, you might consider Tolkien’s above mentioned works, or if you have a friend who is struggling with the truth of Christianity, Lewis’ Mere Christianity remains a reasonable and compelling exposition on the attractiveness and truthfulness of the Christian faith. This book can be especially helpful for those who harbor genuine doubt and need to overcome intellectual hurdles before they can believe.
Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.