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April 10, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Scholarship, Popular Books and Apologetics

Another piece of wisdom from Lewis.

While we are on the subject of science, let me digress for a moment. I believe that any Christian who is qualified to write a good popular book on any science may do much more by that than by any directly apologetic work. The difficulty we are up against is this. We can make people (often) attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so; but the moment they have gone away from our lecture or laid down our article, they are plunged back into a world where the opposite position is taken for granted. As long as that situation exists, widespread success is simply impossible. We must attack the enemy's line of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects -- with their Christianity latent. You can see this most easily if you look at it the other way round.... It is not the books written in direct defence of Materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materialistic assumptions in all the other books. In the same way, it is not books on Christianity that will really trouble him. But he would be troubled if, whenever he wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science, the best work on the market was always by a Christian. The first step to the re-conversion of this country is a series, produced by Christians, which can beat [the competition] on their own ground. ("Christian Apologetics," in God in the Dock: Essays in Theology and Ethics)

Of course, this would apply not only to science by to any and all disciplines and professions. Precisely how "latent" -- how implicit or subtle -- one's Christian faith should be within the work would be decided by the wise judgment of the author(s), possibly in consultation with others in the body of Christ who know the profession or discipline. It is a matter of being wise and subtle and yet also innocent and honest.

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