Alister McGrath guides readers on a voyage into the beliefs and teachings of C. S. Lewis in If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis. McGrath paints a picture of Lewis, not as an example of perfection, but as one who struggled through a personal investigation of God. Lewis documented his discoveries in countless publications, and McGrath’s scholarly work has gleaned key ideas into a concise volume. The book is best savored, not gobbled in a rush.
McGrath writes that “Lewis is no armchair philosopher. His ideas were forged in the heat of suffering and despair.” A real man, living real life, and tackling real obstacles—yes, I am interested in Lewis’s message and can imagine a meal shared with him would be a lively event. McGrath adds. “The Christian faith, Lewis discovered, gave him a lens that brought things into focus. It was like turning on a light and seeing things properly for the first time.” Those are amazing words describing a self-proclaimed atheist who finally found truth.
Readers familiar with Lewis’s fictional writing in the 7 volumes of The Chronicles of Narnia will appreciate McGrath’s explanation of many of the images Lewis employed. Having read the series aloud to my children several times, I enjoyed the descriptions of Aslan and Repicheep, two of my favorite Lewis characters.
Alister McGrath summarizes C. S. Lewis’s motivation for speaking, teaching, and writing. Lewis never planned to become popular. “He is someone who challenges us to think about the difference that we make to others—the memories we will leave behind us, and the lives that are changed through our influence.” C. S. Lewis still touches hearts today.
Appendix 1 provides an excellent bibliography for those hungry to continue their study of C. S. Lewis and his teachings. Appendix 2 offers a short biographical sketch of Lewis and interested readers should note McGrath published C. S. Lewis—A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet in 2013. I commend this author for his excellent Notes section, tracing quotes to their origins in C. S. Lewis’s writings. That detail marks If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis as a handy reference work.
Did I enjoy this book? Absolutely. It is a solid investment of reading time. This was my first Alister McGrath book, and I have requested others from my local library.
Note – Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis to facilitate this review.