Shortly before his death in 1963, C. S. Lewis told his secretary Walter Hooper that five years after he (Lewis) was dead he would be forgotten.1 As a prescient and prophetic twentieth-century Christian thinker and writer, that seems to be one of the few things that Lewis got wrong.

A potent Lewis phenomenon has been taking place a generation after his death and shows no sign of waning. His books sell better now than they did during his lifetime. Lewis’s children’s fantasy novels The Chronicles of Narnia are some of the best-selling books of all time—having sold one hundred million copies in 47 languages. The Narnia series has also been adapted for radio, television, the stage, film, and computer games.2 Lewis’s most popular theological and apologetics book Mere Christianity was chosen by Christianity Today magazine as the most important Christian book of the twentieth century. And in 2013, on the fiftieth anniversary of Lewis’s death, he was honored in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, alongside some of the greatest writers in English literature.

New Movie about Lewis
A new movie released just before the holidays is a C. S. Lewis biopic entitled, The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C. S. Lewis. It’s directed by Norman Stone who also directed the 1985 television movie Shadowlands, a film about C. S. Lewis and his wife, Joy Davidman. The movie features theater actor Max McLean as the middle-aged Lewis who narrates some of the key events in C. S. Lewis’s life, including his acceptance of atheism as a young man, his time as a soldier in World War I, and specifically the events that led to his rediscovery of belief in God and his conversion to Christianity. The movie is based on the McLean play, C. S. Lewis on Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert, and reflects some of the content from Lewis’s famous autobiography, Surprised by Joy (1955).

One of the most appealing features of the film includes three actors’ portrayal of Lewis at various stages of his life: young boy, young man, older man. For me, the best part of the movie is McLean’s engaging narration of Lewis as the Oxford Don looks back at various stages and events of his extraordinary life with serious reflection.

Another captivating element of the movie is that it was filmed in and around Oxford, and includes scenes from Oxford University’s Magdalen College where Lewis taught, The Kilns where Lewis lived, the Eagle and Child pub where Lewis met with his fellow Inklings, and Holy Trinity Church where Lewis attended church and where he is buried. I also appreciated that the role of the Anglican priest at Lewis’s church was played by Michael Ward, who biblical scholar N. T. Wright has called “the foremost living Lewis scholar.”

A seemingly confusing feature of the film, at least for me on my first viewing, is the beginning of the movie. It starts out as an apparent documentary as to how the movie was made and then shifts to McLean’s stage play as Lewis and then finally to the narrated movie events of Lewis’s life. The transition and sequence seemed somewhat awkward. The movie also covers a lot of ground in Lewis’s life in a very short time, which may be confusing to people who don’t have extensive knowledge of Lewis.

Takeaway
Yet whether one likes the film or not, (I certainly enjoyed it) there are two larger points to be appreciated. First, like the 2019 biopic film Tolkien about J. R. R. Tolkien, the fact that the life of a prominent Christian thinker and writer is depicted on the big screen is extraordinary. This is especially true in that the film catalogs Lewis’s journey from atheism back to belief in God and then to the acceptance of the truth of Christianity.

Second, the film illustrates that the Lewis phenomenon continues. The film was first scheduled for select, and therefore, limited showings in theaters. But the robust attendance at the film’s initial release has led to extended showings of the movie. People remain interested in C. S. Lewis and the books, plays, television programs, and big-screen movies that tell us more about this extraordinary man.

C. S. Lewis’s words and ideas carry a special persuasiveness concerning the truth of historic Christianity. And by their movie ticket purchases, a lot of people are interested in seeing that message receive a wide public showing.

Reflections: Your Turn
Have you seen the film? What did you think? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment.

Resources

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes

  1. Alister McGrath, C. S. Lewis—A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2013), 363.
  2. Wikipedia, s. v. The Chronicles of Narnia, last edited November 11, 2021.

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



Email Sign-up

Sign up for the TWR360 Newsletter

Access updates, news, Biblical teaching and inspirational messages from powerful Christian voices.

Thank you for signing up to receive updates from TWR360.

Required information missing