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Victor Reppert

Taking C.S. Lewis Seriously

Apologetics and the personal heresy

One of the first philosophical arguments I ever encountered was C. S. Lewis' argument, found in his book Miracles, that naturalism is self-refuting because it is inconsistent with the validity of reasoning.1 The argument fascinated me, and as a young Christian I never missed a chance to present it in discussions with skeptics. I later discovered that this argument was the subject of the famous controversy with Elizabeth Anscombe, in response to which Lewis revised his argument.2 However, in my graduate studies in philosophy I discovered, with some exceptions, that the argument had received little attention even from Christian philosophers and was dismissed by many. As I analyzed the various ways in which the argument could be answered, the firmer the rock appeared on which it stood. And so when it came time to write my doctoral dissertation, I chose to defend this argument against naturalism. Even though my committee was solidly opposed to the conclusion of my argument, they nevertheless passed my dissertation.

I'm still persuaded that Lewis' argument is a good one. And the best way to honor Lewis' apologetic achievement, it seems to me, is not simply by repeating what he says, but by developing his ideas, asking probing questions of them, and developing the discussion in ways that reflects one's own thinking as well as Lewis'. The result of such refection on my part has persuaded me that, indeed, Christianity is credible for approximately the reasons that Lewis said it was. I believe that to a large extent not enough of this further reflection has been done in the secondary Lewis literature, and that is why I believe that despite Lewis' enormous popularity, subsequent apologists have underutilized the resources that he has provided for them.

All too often, Lewis' career as an apologist has been assessed biographically, focusing on Lewis himself rather than what he had to say. So, for example, it is often suggested that Lewis was profoundly upset by his exchange with ...

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