C.S. Lewis on His Conversion


Sometime in the spring (Trinity Sunday was May 22 that year, 1929) Lewis came to believe in God, though not yet in Christ:

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him of whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation. (Surprised by Joy, Chapter 14)

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume I

I wish every self-proclaimed atheist would read Lewis’ account of his conversion process. Raised in the Church of England, he had witnessed all the stuffy, tepid, formalized religion he could stomach. Then, when his mother died and no one could answer his desperate questions as to why the loving God allowed that to happen, he decided it was all simply a myth. Even so, he gravitated toward friends who were believers, and engaged in lively debate with them. Through their witness, and much irrefutable reasoning, his objections eroded like sandstone in a torrent.

Divine reasoning and wisdom always prevails against its human counterpart—unless, that is, bitterness and overt hatred are included in the resistance. Truth is, hating God doesn’t hurt him in the least, and simple disbelief is just that: simple. Curious, isn’t it, that “free thinkers” so often refuse to even consider the possibility of God’s existence.

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