Sep 10, 2012

Posted by in C.S. Lewis, Literary Apologetics | 2 Comments

Literary Apologetics and C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Chronicles of Narnia with Michael Ward

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia are literary apologetics at its best: these are Christ-centered books that nonetheless invite the skeptical reader to step into their world, to breathe their air, to touch and taste and see that the Lord is good. Such an experience can be transformative. How did Lewis accomplish this? It’s an important question to ask. We will be more effective apologists and evangelists if we can make use of literature and the imagination to share the Gospel.

And so I was delighted to be part of an extended discussion of exactly this topic with my colleague, noted C.S. Lewis scholar Dr Michael Ward, and co-host William O’Flaherty of EssentialCSLewis.com. 

The podcast series

Each episode in this thirteen-part series is focused on one chapter in Michael’s book The Narnia Code, which is the popular version of his acclaimed scholarlly book Planet Narnia. (Podcast links are below.) Thus this podcast serves as excellent introduction to Michael’s ideas about Lewis’ use of the medieval imagery of the ‘seven heavens’ as a deep, underlying structure of meaning for the Chronicles of Narnia.

However, Michael’s explanations in this podcast range beyond what’s in the book, including topics such as what it means to ‘baptize’ pagan mythology; the difference between ‘Enjoyment’ and ‘Contemplation’ and what that means in literature; how Lewis draws extensively and deeply on Scripture and theology in the Chronicles; why it matters that we consider these questions; why Christians should not avoid talking about death; how Lewis made Christ central to all aspects of the Narnia Chronicles (more than just a ‘Jesus-figure’); and a lot more.

I hope you enjoy these podcasts!

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Potential graduate students in apologetics, take note:  Dr. Michael Ward will be joining us on the faculty of Houston Baptist University as an Annual Visiting Professor in the MA in Apologetics program – beginning in Spring 2013, he will teach a core course on C.S. Lewis and Imaginative Apologetics. The MA in Apologetics is accepting applicants now!

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Further work by Dr Michael Ward:

Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis. (Read my extended review here).

The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis  (Michael Ward & Robert MacSwain, editors).

“The Good Serves the Better and Both the Best: C.S. Lewis on Imagination and Reason in Apologetics”: in Imaginative Apologetics. (read my full review here).

“The Tragedy is in the Pity: C.S. Lewis and the Song of the Goat”:  in Christian Theology and Tragedy (Ashgate Studies in Theology, Imagination and the Arts)

Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why It Matters What Christians Believe (Ben Quash & Michael Ward, editors)

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  1. I was reading the Narnia Code this weekend while camping. My husband has had an interest in astronomy all his life so I read the chapter aloud, where Ward was explaining his “ah ha” moment. My husband thought that was pretty clever of Lewis for writing the way he did, and Ward for connecting it to a previous work.

    I love this sentence in your Aug. 15th post, about CS Lewis:

    ‘With consummate skill, he wove the thread of faith into the tapestry of his art—so much so that one scholar has described Lewis as a “literary evangelist”….’

    …and I bet he had a lot of fun doing it!

  2. Thanks for this summary post, Holly! Helpful!

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