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ss triple helix - winter 2013,  CS Lewis: A Life

CS Lewis: A Life

Alister McGrath
Hodder & Stoughton, 2013
£2 Hb 448pp, ISBN 9781444745528
Reviewed by Giles Cattermole, CMF Head of Student Ministries

Author, apologist, academic. McGrath's excellent biography of CS Lewis shows us the man behind these three faces. A man shaped by his childhood in Ulster and in English schools before the horror of the trenches, by Oxford, and especially by his friends. A man who could be odd – even nasty; this is no hagiography. But most of all, although a 'most reluctant convert', a man who came to know Christ, and made him known to so many through his broadcasts and books. McGrath is thorough – perhaps at times giving too much detail, and there is much repetition. Masterfully weaving biography, theology and literary review together, he shows the development of Lewis' thought and writing. From the objectivity of The Problem of Pain to the passionate intensity of A Grief Observed we see Lewis the intellectual confronted by personal searing loss. From his wartime apologetics to the imaginative Chronicles of Narnia we see Christian truth fleshed out in story. It is this, McGrath argues, that makes Lewis so influential still. Lewis appeals beyond modernist didactic approaches, to a post-modern audience seeking emotional narrative. But he provides this within an objectively true Christian framework. It's no surprise that Christian writers like Tim Keller, successfully reaching a thoroughly postmodern culture, so obviously stand on Lewis' shoulders. If only more of us could present God's truths so winsomely!

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