C.S. Lewis on Conversion
Before I became a Christian I do not think I fully realized that one’s life, after conversion, would inevitably consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before, one hopes, in a new spirit, but still the same things.
Lewis made this statement during a public address titled, “The Weight of Glory.” I can’t say with authority, but I suspect worldly university students comprised much of his audience, because his writings typically paint a more conservative picture of life as a Christian. Of course, this one-sentence excerpt from his message likely conveys an incomplete thought, though I can’t imagine why the Bible Gateway editor responsible for the C.S. Lewis Daily feed would post it if that’s the case.
As Lewis was an academic when he became a Christian, his statement above is quite true of himself. When his theological worldview changed, he continued his studies and his moderate lifestyle, but his motivations and conclusions flipped about a full 180-degrees.
That, however, is certainly not the case with me; before I began giving myself to God, I seldom read anything that didn’t titillate my baser urges. Though mysticism fascinated me, I had no interest in things truly spiritual. Only later did I discover that God had been working in my life, moving me toward himself in subtle steps, until in my mid-twenties I could no longer resist his loving grace. I wish I could testify of a spectacular, instant transformation from sinner to saint, but that would be a lie. My thirty-eight-year life in Christ is a story of three steps forward and two steps backward, but my halting progress has served to solidify my faith in the One who loved me enough to die for me. Now, my one ambition in life is to die for him, whether to the flesh, or in the flesh matters little.
What a contrast between late-1940s university students and those of today! In sixty-five years the academic climate has “progressed” from open curiosity about things spiritual to open hostility toward them. Today, academic inquiry, to be considered valid, must pass the litmus test of theological perspective; if one accepts even the possibility of any supernatural element in this infinitely complex universe, the atheistic, materialist establishment labels him a complete dolt and, but as a curiosity for its amusement, denies him a voice in the academic exchange.
Please don’t think I’m sitting here, wringing my hands—between fits of typing—in anxiety over the world’s overwhelming depravity. None of this comes as a surprise to God, but his infinite wisdom and power constantly works toward his elect’s redemption, of whom, praise God, I am one.