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C.S. Lewis, apostle Paul bonded on justice

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) — To right the world’s wrongs is what justice is all about — a point that both C.S. Lewis and the apostle Paul shared in their messages about redemption, an expert on Lewis’ life, Harry Lee (Hal) Poe, told a chapel audience on the 50th anniversary of Lewis’ death Nov. 22.

Poe, Union University’s Charles Colson professor of faith and culture, said Lewis — author of such works as “The Chronicles of Narnia” — was “a watcher of culture. … He was a person who noticed significant moments [that were] going to have an impact 50 years later.”

Lewis confronted a generation of people preoccupied with pleasure, Poe said, citing the last article Lewis wrote titled “We Have No ‘Right to Happiness.”

The apostle Paul faced a similar situation in Athens, Poe said, when he confronted religious groups who believed life had no meaning or purpose — and, consequently, they had no fear of punishment for wrongdoing. As a result, many Athenians focused solely on happiness in the present life.

Lewis argued that the universal human awareness of “fair play” suggests a source of understanding between right and wrong, Poe said. “Humans recognize when someone is being treated unfairly,” he said. “Something is coming to us from the outside to have a universal awareness for what we don’t have — what we long for.”

Although Paul and Lewis knew the Gospel contained the answers to injustice, Poe said Lewis noted a collapse in culture in which people have difficulty absorbing rational arguments or lengthy discussions.

In order to help people understand the Gospel, Paul and Lewis not only talked about Scripture but also explained it by using the art of their cultures.

“It’s not enough to declare some of the aspects of the Christian faith,” Poe said. “You need to explain what it means to people who don’t know.”

Paul used Greek poetry to help Athenians understand God, while Lewis wrote children’s stories to help spread the Gospel. Through these, Poe said, both men explained the promise of redemption in the New Testament’s book of Revelation, where passages describe a time when God will bring righteousness and justice to the world.

The Bible, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia, ends in hope, Poe said. “Live your life like you really believe you have the blessed hope,” he said. “Go forth, and be thankful in the Lord’s creation.

Poe is the author of “The Inklings of Oxford: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Their Friends” and co-editor of “C.S. Lewis Remembered: Collected Reflections of Students, Friends, and Colleagues.”

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Lewis’ death, Union dedicated its most recent Town and Gown lecture series in Lewis’ memory, with the series titled “Aslan’s Apologist: Celebrating the Intellectual Legacy of C.S. Lewis.” Union, located in Jackson, Tenn., also sponsored a trip to Great Britain this past summer to tour some of the historical sites in connection with Lewis’ life.
Beth Knoll is a writer for Union University. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Beth Knoll