Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

The Desiring God Nation Conference begins on Friday. It’s a conference dedicated to C.S. Lewis, and we titled the conference: “The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis.” The fun starts on Friday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Pastor John, what do you look forward to from the speakers, and maybe give us a sense of what you’ll be sharing at the conference.

Tony, the more I read and think in preparation for this conference on C. S. Lewis the more excited I get. And I know that Lewis had his flaws. The more I read the more I know. Personal flaws, moral flaws, relational flaws, doctrinal flaws. We won’t celebrate those and we won’t ignore those, but here is why we turn to him, frankly, with deep felt thankfulness and a desire to honor him 50 years after his death. Let me put it in a quote from Peter Kreeft in an essay that he wrote 30 years ago. I just love this quote and it will give the people a sense of what we are in for.

Once upon a dreary era when the world of specialization had nearly made obsolete all universal geniuses, romantic poets, platonic idealists, rhetorical craftsman, even orthodox Christians, there appeared a man almost as if from another world, one of the worlds his own fiction. Was he a man or something more like elf or angel who was all these things as an amateur as well as probably the world’s foremost authority in his professional province of medieval and renaissance English literature. Before his death in 1963 he found time to produce first quality works of literary history, literary criticism, theology, philosophy, autobiography, biblical studies, historical philology, fantasy, science fiction, letters, poems, sermons, formal and informal essays, a historical novel, a spiritual diary, religious allegory, short stories and children’s novels. Clive Staples Lewis was not a man, he was a world.

End quote.

That is remarkable. And you read that kind of accolade over and over again for the last 50 years. What kind of man was this? What was it that caused people to write things like that about him? Well, I am really exited that Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton is going to come and tackle the issue of Lewis’ view of Scripture, inerrancy and Lewis as the patron saint of Evangelicalism, I am excited that Doug Wilson is going to tackle the issue of what did he really believe about salvation? Was he a reformed person in his soteriology or wasn’t he? Kevin Vanhoozer from Trinity is going to talk about the role of imagination in theology and discipleship and Randy Alcorn is going to tackle heaven and the new earth with Lewis as his help. And then we don’t even have a second string in this. I mean the seminars that you... well, you say there is a second. They are not second string. Andy Wilson with the myth wars. C. S. Lewis and scientism and Colin Duriez the friendship of Lewis with Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings and Lyle Dorset just written and lectured extensively on Lewis in his care of souls and Joe Rigney who has read as much and thought as much about this as any young person I know on Live Like a Narnian.

So the line up here is simply stunning. It is one of the conferences that I expect to learn heaps from.

And as far as my own messages go, I have been working really hard on the ... in the last weeks and I am so amazed at what I am seeing. My first job on the first night is to say: Why did we title this thing Romantic Rationalist? And the deeper I have gone into what do we mean by romantic and what do we mean by rationalist and how did that work itself out in bringing him to Christ and in the way he did all of his ministry of teaching and writing, speaking, in the use of metaphor and poetry and story. It is... I think it is... it is getting more profound the more I look at it. And then the last thing I will do on Sunday morning in the setting of our worship service is to do an exposition of 1 Timothy 4:1–5 which has this phrase in it: “everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the Word of God and prayer.” And with Lewis’s help I want to try to unpack how is creation—sex and food particularly in this text—made holy by the Word of God and prayer?

So, yeah, I am really excited. If people haven’t signed up to come, I hope they will.

Yes me too, and there’s still time to register for the conference, which you can do through the desiringGod.org website until September 25th, you can register on site at the conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center. And if you cannot make it to Minneapolis this weekend, the conference will be livestreamed at www.desiringgod.org/live. Of course all the messages will be archived on the website for future viewing and listening as well. … I’m your host, Tony Reinke. I hope to see you in Minneapolis!