C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, someone I almost feel like I know personally. I enjoyed hearing Piper articulate so passionately and clearly some of the things I have learned from Lewis as well.
This message was given by Piper at a 2010 conference for Pastors. There is audio, video and text available at the link. Here is a little of what he says, including an opening criticism:
[Lewis] devoted his whole Christian life to defending and adorning what he called “mere Christianity”—“the Christian religion as understood ubique et ab omnibus [everywhere by everyone].” “I have believed myself to be restating ancient and orthodox doctrines. . . . I have tried to assume nothing that is not professed by all baptized and communicating Christians.” This means that he rarely tried to distance himself from Roman Catholicism or any other part of Christendom. He rarely spoke about any debates within Christianity itself….There is a price to pay when you set yourself this kind of agenda. You will almost certainly omit things essential to the gospel. Not that you yourself do not believe those things…
He called it “mere Christianity.” Within that limited focus (which he would say is infinitely large), he fell short of saying many important things regarding the gospel of Christ. But if I focus not on what he failed to say, but on what he said and did, I find that even for me—for one who considers some doctrines to be crucial that he neglected—even for me, the blessings of his work have been incalculable….
What was it about the work of C. S. Lewis that has helped me so much? The answer lies in the way that the experience of Joy and the defense of Truth come together in Lewis’s life and writings. The way Lewis deals with these two things—Joy and Truth—is so radically different from Liberal theology and emergent postmodern slipperiness that he is simply in another world—a world where I am totally at home, and where I find both my heart and my mind awakened and made more alive and perceptive and responsive and earnest and hopeful and amazed and passionate for the glory of God every time I turn to C. S. Lewis. It’s this combination of experiencing the stab of God-shaped joy and defending objective, absolute Truth, because of the absolute Reality of God, that sets Lewis apart as unparalleled in the modern world. To my knowledge, there is simply no one else who puts these two things together the way Lewis does.
There’s a lot more, and it is all good.
One description of Lewis I heard for the first time today was originally made by Alan Jacobs in his biography of Lewis: he said Lewis exhibited “omnivorous attentiveness.” Indeed!