Happy Birthday, Clive

Happy Birthday, Clive

Born this day in 1898 was one Clive Staples Lewis. His friends called him Jack. We know him as C. S. Lewis. He died just shy of 65 years old on November 22, 1963, the same day as John F. Kennedy's assassination.

And what treasures did Jack pen in his lifetime, among them the Narnia series and many even more significant.

John Piper paid tribute to Lewis in his biographical address "Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul." Here's the key insight from Lewis:

[Jonathan] Edwards said, “God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.” So the glory of God is displayed when we rejoice in it. Lewis says exactly the same thing even more clearly. In his book on the Psalms, he says, “The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever’. But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy him.”

So we have these two great themes in Lewis’s life: 1) the experience of Joy as an inconsolable longing in this world always pointing to the Reality beyond this world and 2) the defense of the objective nature of that Reality, that is, God, with all the ethical and epistemological implications of that defense. We see Lewis defending the objective Reality behind the experience of Joy because without it this experience is utterly trivialized as a mere animal state of the brain. Man as man is abolished. But now we have seen that in fighting for the dignity and majesty and eternity of the experience of Joy, Lewis is in fact fighting for the glory of God. Because, as he says, fully to enjoy God is to glorify God.

And so the means by which God brought Lewis to himself—the inconsolable longing for (the Joy in) what he knew not—turns out to be the ultimate goal of the Christian life as well—to make God the object of that longing—that Joy—and to glorify God by enjoying him forever.

Today would be as fine a day as any to read, watch, or listen to the whole biographical address.

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.