It would be easy for a young apologist to miss the brilliance of Lewis’s creativity. Our day is marked by both war and peace, calling for a multifaceted and flexible line of attack. Herein Lewis’s life and witness provide many examples for evangelists today. While Lewis’s articulation of the gospel took different paths, they all led to Christ. In so doing, he was able to take aim at both the head and the heart.
I wish your project heartily well,” wrote C. S. Lewis to Christianity Today, “but can’t write you articles.” Carl F. H. Henry, founding editor of the magazine, had in 1955 invited Lewis to contribute to the magazine’s first issue. Lewis declined. Henry was not, as the saying goes, “a day late and a dollar short.” He was over a decade late, and no dollar amount would have mattered, as Lewis gave the lion’s share of his royalties to charity.
There was a time when Lewis would have said yes: namely, when Nazi soldiers marched into Poland and threatened the stability of the world. Adolf Hitler’s influence on Lewis’s apologetics is an irrefutable fact. The Führer’s evil campaign paved the way for the clear-speaking Lewis to engage listeners of the British Broadcast Service. Even as bombs fell over London, Lewis’s baritone voice boomed on radios across Europe. His evangelistic approach was tailormade for men at war.
Thus, Mere Christianity was born in the fullness of time. Published in 1952, the classic was taken from transcripts of his broadcasts from the early 1940s. By the time the book was available in print, Lewis was already changing his approach. As Solomon said, “There is a time for war and a time for peace.” Lewis modified his methods for both.