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Home Home Schooling C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis

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by Paul Thompson


Children have wonderful imaginations. How many times have you observed your children at play, caught up in some imaginary world, and been amazed at their creative minds? As Christian parents seeking to educate our children, we need to constantly affirm that they too are made in the image of God. Despite this image being spoilt by the rebellion of our first parents, God desires that we teach them to mirror something of His character to those around them. God exhibited the most amazing imagination when He created us and His wonderfully diverse world and universe.

A child's mind although never neutral because of sin is none the less incredibly impressionable. Surely one of the goals of a home education is that our children develop big views of God and Christ, a little view of themselves and a loving sacrificial view towards others

How are we to achieve this important goal? There is one highly effective means we can use: to employ the services of another. The genius of literature is that we can enter not just into an author's mind but his world enters into ours. By exposing our children's minds to the works of literary giants, both Christian and non-Christian we can be powerful change agents in developing they're young minds and imagination's.

Given the reality in our homes of T.V, computer games, magazines and popular

music our children are exposed to a worldview that is blatantly postmodern and experience based. How do we counter these often damaging influences upon our children?

One powerful way is by reading to and teaching our children to read the great Christian classics. These stories although often fictional present basic truths about God and ourselves in contrast to post-modern based genres. By exposing our children to the Christian truths they portray we can help to inoculate their minds against the often numbing effects of growing up in a pluralistic society. For Christian parents Christian truth will always be at the heart of the home and a child's education.

C. S. Lewis is one essential literary giant who continues to exert an extraordinary influence through both his children's and adult's Christian literature.

Who was C. S. Lewis?

Clive Staples Lewis was born in the winter of 1888 in Belfast, Ireland. His father was a solicitor, who came from Welsh stock, his mother a minister's daughter. Both his parents where avid bookworms and this undoubtedly had a profound influence upon the young Lewis. He feasted on hundreds of stimulating books in the home. Clive had

a brother three years younger, who attended an English boarding school while He was educated at home by his mother. She taught him French and Latin and a governess taught him "everything else." Early books read included E. Nesbit's trilogy, Five Children and it, The Phoenix and the Wishing Carpet, And The Amulet. Also Gulliver's Travels and Beatrix Potter books were also favorites.

He was a student at Oxford topping his course. He went on to be a Fellow and Tutor at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1925-54. In 1929 he came to faith in Christ after many years of wrestling with the claims of historic Christianity. Lewis wrote; "In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave in and admitted that God was God.... Perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." In 1950 he received a letter from an American Jewess, Joy Davidson. A former Communist, she was a successful author who wrote, "Smoke on the Mountain." Lewis was instrumental in her conversion through his writings. In 1956 they married, sadly not long after she was diagnosed with cancer and died in July 1960. Lewis himself died after a long illness at his home in Oxford on 22nd November 1963.

Lewis use of translating Christian terminology.

Some readers may be concerned at the lack of Lewis's evangelical terminology in his writing and therefore question his orthodoxy. Burson and Wallis helpfully say, "Lewis worked diligently at translating Christian terminology into the vernacular of the unchurched, so he seldom used terms like justification, sanctification and glorification." For example on the atonement they write, " For Lewis the atonement is not fundamentally a matter of pardon, imputation and forgiveness, but rather the actual transformation of fallen beings into Christlike creatures. In Lewis's view, God does not want to simply impute righteousness to our account and consider us just, he wants to impart righteousness and transform us into fully justified persons."

How to use C. S. Lewis in your Home School

For younger children

The Chronicles of Narnia

These are the first stop for young children, to read or be read to. There are seven fantasies or fairy tales that subtlelty introduce Christian themes. Although each book is a single story, the chronicles make a unity. Begin according to the order of writing; the sixth is a flashback, and can be read first.

Why not read or set a chapter to be read each day, also getting the children to either draw something they imagined or write an imaginary story. If there's an obvious theological truth i.e. (Aslan the Lion; is the central figure and clearly represents Christ) explain it in concrete ways. Next to avoid moralizing tie to the gospel and where they stand before Christ.

For older children

Surprised by Joy. This is the first port of call for you and your older children to begin reading, especially if you're unfamiliar with Lewis. Once you have an insight into how he lived you'll better understand what he says.

Mere Christianity was born in response to a series of BBC radio talks Lewis brief was "to give a general account of Christian belief." It begins with a discussion of some reasons for believing that God exists. Why it matters that He does, and then continues with the work of God in Christ. This is followed by a discussion of "How shall we then live." concluding with a scintillating treatise on basic Christian beliefs. It also provides brilliant arguments for why Christianity is "true truth," to quote Schaeffer. You may want to get your older children digging into the excellent five study guides to Mere Christianity at:

Don't be afraid to tailor the questions to match both your children's competency and spiritual state.

The Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength are three sci-fi or fantasy novels based on Christian themes. Why not reward your child with a chapter from one of these after doing the vigorous work of chewing over a chapter of Mere Christianity?

Finally as with any teaching get the older children to ask what the chapter is saying, what does it mean and how does it apply to them in light of the gospel?

More C.S.Lewis books:

The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Four Loves, and Letters to Malcolm: chiefly on prayer. and Miracles, A Grief observed and many more! Available through: www. koorong. com

Web Site relating to C.S.Lewis


Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis published by Fontana. Shadowlands: The story of C.S.Lewis and Joy Davidman by Brian Sibley published by Chivers Press. C.S.Lewis & Francis Schaeffer: Lessons for a New Century from the Most Influential Apologists of our Time by Scott R. Burson & Jerry L.Wallis Published by IVF. A Summary of Lewis's Books by James E. Kiefer at: Summary

Paul Thompson - Paul is married to Amanda, they have two Adult children and one teen


Last Updated on Sunday, 13 March 2011 19:10  

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