Review: Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God

The latest edition of our Foundations theological journal was published at the end of November. It contains articles and book reviews of help and encouragement to those wanting to engage with scripture and theology at a deeper level, yet still being practical and applied.

One such book review is of 'Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God', Joe Rigney (Crossway, 2018), 310pp, £16 (paperback)

“The best way to learn about ‘Lewis on the Christian life’ would be a book club.” If Rigney had his way, people who are interested in Lewis’ thoughts on the life of faith would simply read an awful lot of Lewis! However, this book club is not to be, and so what follows in the next seventeen chapters is Rigney’s categorising (and analysis) of Lewis’ thoughts on various different topics relating to the Christian life, ranging from the gospel itself, to pride and humility, to introspection, to election and much more. Each chapter helpfully draws together Lewis’ writings on that subject (e.g. heaven) from his various books, letters and addresses and presents a well-rounded summary and explanation of his take on it. Rigney adds his own comments and analysis along the way, which makes for an interesting and informative dialogue between the two men as the reader moves through the book.

Although Rigney is a self-confessed huge fan of Lewis’ work, he does not shy away from disagreeing with, or giving honest feedback to, some of his ideas that might receive less sympathy from certain wings of the church. He is concerned that readers who disagree with Lewis in such areas are not put off from reading the rest of his work, and thus miss so much wisdom and poetry. For example, Rigney acknowledges Lewis’ “dismissive attitude toward penal substitution” and spends the next few pages in conversation with Lewis before finally asserting that the essence of penal substitution may be found in Lewis’ work, even if he doesn’t phrase it exactly that way. This is helpful to those, like me, who have not read all of Lewis and so cannot bring together his thoughts in this way!

I found this to be a very helpful book, not just in understanding more about Lewis’ position on the Christian faith, but in showing how to engage respectfully and faithfully with someone who brought so much helpful material to the table, yet was in no way perfect in his understanding in various areas, just like the rest of us.

Ian Chidlow, Curate, St Mary’s Church, Cheadle


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