Fifty years ago today three prominent people died (I do not use the term “important” because all are created in the imago Dei, which makes all individuals important.): John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Aldous Leonard Huxley, and Clive Staples (C. S.) Lewis.
Kennedy served as President of the Unites States of America. His assassination shocked our nation which had international ripples. It overshadowed virtually everything else that was happening at the time.
Huxley was born in England and moved to California at about 40 years of age. He was a writer best known for his fictional work, Brave New World.
Lewis was an academic, writer of fiction and non-fiction and a Christian apologist. His lasting influence has been as a Christian apologist. Though he wrote many works covering many topics, he is probably known best for the beloved The Chronicles of Narnia.
In an interesting fictional conversation between these three, Peter Kreeft wrote Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley. Kreeft casts Kennedy as a modern humanist, Huxley as an Eastern pantheist and Lewis as a Christian theist. It is an insightful look at the beliefs and worldviews of these three persons.
Another interesting but little known fact is the numbers of people Lewis influenced, and the manner in which he did so. Kathy Keller, Tim Keller’s wife, was one of those who wrote letters to Lewis as a young 12 year old girl, to which Lewis responded. She was one of his “pen pals.” In the providence of God, it was one of the means God used in Keller’s life to awaken her spiritually as He drew her to Himself.
As is well-document in Chuck Colson’s conversion in Born Again, it was Lewis’ Mere Christianity that the Lord used in his spiritual awakening, his being born again.
There are a number of conferences remembering Lewis this year. The Desiring God Conference was one of them. John Piper’s message on this theme was outstanding, “What God Made Is Good — And Must Be Sanctified: C.S. Lewis and St. Paul on the Use of Creation”
As we remember these three this day, and especially how the Lord used and continues to use Lewis, I allow him to have the final words from his final and most famous work, The Last Battle (Book 7 of The Chronicles of Narnia). These are words all of us ought to remember. They were written seven years before Lewis died, but they explain a great deal about his beliefs, his life, his understanding of worldview, and his notion of how we live now for then.
And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.