(CCSLQ-18) Christian Literature

This is part of a series (typically it’s weekly) exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series. 

Christian Literature
“The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.”

If you are a serious reader of the writings of C.S. Lewis then you know that his real occupation was not defending the Christian faith. Doing that was actually more of a hobby. During his lifetime he was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford and before his death held the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge. Of course, the more casual reader associate him with the Narnia books. This brings me to the quotation in question. If you only thought of Lewis as merely a writer of literature than the above expression would make sense.

After all, wouldn’t Lewis agree with the above statement and as a result there’s nothing wrong with sharing it? If you are thinking that then you are totally missing the point of this series. Which is to basically answer whether or not Lewis wrote something. If he didn’t than do NOT share it. Now, in some cases there are a few quotations that he did write (to be explored later) that are “problematic,” because out of their proper context they could be misunderstood. However, in this case what we have here is a poor paraphrase of something Lewis actually said and wrote.

Lewis spoke to a variety of groups in addition to being heard on the radio. While never published during his lifetime, he read what we know today as “Christian Apologetics” sometime around Easter 1945. This paper was presented to some Anglican youth leaders and priests. No doubt you can guess the theme addressed by Lewis.

It was during this talk that Lewis admits he is going off topic when he makes the following statement that is now found in the essay “Christian Apologetics” best available in the book God in the Dock:

“What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects – with their Christianity latent.”

Some may be surprised that he spoke this over five years before any Narnia story was published. However, by this time two of the books in his famous Science Fiction trilogy had been released (the third came out a few months later).

As already noted, the quotation frequently seen online is a poor paraphrase of what Lewis actually stated. It says less than what Lewis advocated. While the rewording still makes a great point, Lewis promoted much more than Christians writing quality literature. He encouraged Christians to write well in ALL subjects. So, instead of sharing a paraphrasing that states less than what Lewis believed let’s pass on the real quotation!

Christian Literature -THE REAL QUOTE

The next quote examined is:

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.”

Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 1/23/2016