What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects – with their Christianity latent. – C.S. Lewis
Years ago, when a writer shared this quote from C.S. Lewis with an email list I belonged to, I printed it, cut it out and placed it under my see-through plastic desktop protector.
At first glance, though, it's an odd quote to hang on to for a writer like myself who spends so much of his time writing and editing for the Christian market. But the quote resonates with me, so much so that it's the driving philosophy behind my essay books, my sports writing and here on my website.
The quote from Lewis comes from an essay he wrote called "Christian Apologetics." I did a little research and discovered that the essay appeared in a number of published works over the years. One such place is in a compilation book of his essays called "God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics." In context, the quote about latent Christianity came as Lewis was discussing science.
“While we are on the subject of science, let me digress for a moment," Lewis wrote. "I believe that any Christian who is qualified to write a good popular book on any science may do much more by that than by any directly apologetic work. The difficulty we are up against is this. We can make people (often) attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so; but the moment they have gone away from our lecture or laid down our article, they are plunged back into a world where the opposite position is taken for granted ... What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects – with their Christianity latent.”
He goes on to say this:
"It is not books on Christianity that will really trouble him [the unbelieving modern man]. But he would be troubled if, whenever he wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science, the best work on the market was always by a Christian.”
Lewis has been gone nearly sixty years but his words are even more relevant today than when he wrote them.
The gospel is comprehensive. It applies to all areas of life. Until a skeptic can see that, Christianity is just a religion without much use, except to mark births, marriages and funerals. But when Christians present and live out a comprehensive gospel – one that not only speaks to the culture where it is but also loves people where they are, then Christianity no longer looks like a religion. Instead, it looks like purpose, and depth and redemption.
Of course, the irony of Lewis' words is, he wrote them in an essay to Christians. But I don't think he was saying Christians shouldn't write to encourage, build up or challenge each other in the faith. Instead, I think he was saying we should also write for the culture at large.
That's what I try to do here and elsewhere. It's the reason I write about baseball, walking, notebooks, board games, spiritual legacies, friendship, coffee, loneliness, love, loss and so much more.
Whether you are Christian, a believer in some other faith, a skeptic or someone who is trying to figure out what you believe, I hope you find something here that speaks to you.