I’ve long loved C.S. Lewis, though as I get older I gradually see that he is not the be-all, end-all fountain of Christian wisdom I may have believed while I was growing up. A book written by one of my college professors, Dr. John Beversluis, is being updated and will be reissued next year, and I await it eagerly. It purports to show that Lewis failed in his attempted rational defense of Christianity. Lewis’s premise was that nobody should accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him it doesn’t make sense. Beversluis’s book promises to show that it doesn’t.
Victor Reppert at Dangerous Idea notes the upcoming release and both reasonably anticipates arguing Beversluis’s points and also reminds us that if Beversluis isn’t 100 percent right, at least he’s “a good antidote” to anybody who’s willing to wrap themselves in wholesale Lewis. But he’s wrong about Beversluis as “consummate Lewis-basher.”
How do I know without reading the book? And why do I so eagerly await a book that purports to show that one of my childhood heroes failed in the object of his writings? Simply this: in college I took a class from John Beversluis, on C.S. Lewis. He did not use his own book as a teaching tool in the course (I didn’t know the book existed until last month), I didn’t know he was an agnostic rather than a Christian until many weeks into the course, and I think it was in private conversation that he revealed this, rather than in class. In other words, he set out to teach a course on C.S. Lewis, and Lewis was what he taught–not Beversluis. In this academic climate, that’s somewhat remarkable, and in addition, it makes me far more receptive to what he has to say about Lewis–now that I’m aware of the book, now that Dr. Beversluis is retired–than I would have been as a wide-eyed undergrad.
Update: Speaking of wide-eyed undergrads, I wrote like one last night when I attributed the opinion of Beversluis as “Lewis-basher” to Victor Reppert.
He was observing that many people think of Beversluis that way, not that he himself does. He observes below in the comments that he doesn’t share that opinion of Beversluis but that passages in Beversluis’s book can come across that way. Apologies and welcome, Victor.
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