Echoes from 1948
The answer depends on your definition of “prophet”. In some circles, anyone with a uniquely mystical outlook is “prophetic”. I’ve seen people described as “prophetic photographers”. I don’t even know what that means. In other circles it’s anyone who has an artistic bent, a “free spirit” or a little eccentric. Still others define it as the ability to see into the future. So, is C.S. Lewis a prophet?
Based on what I know of the man (I’ve read most of his works, read about him extensively and I’ve been in his HOUSE!) I’d have to say “no” based on the above definitions. But if we use a more …”biblical” definition, the answer is not so clear.
What’s a prophet, anyway?
The Hebrew root word means to “bubble up”; to speak-forth…for God. Therefore, we can say that while prophets from the Bible often exhibited some of the characteristics listed above, these qualities did not establish them as prophets. However, speaking on behalf of God did. Did Lewis speak for God?
In the midst of this C-19 event, some of Lewis’ words come to us from 1948, therefore carrying that quality of future-telling. But it’s not even implied that “future-telling” is what he intended. Yet, perhaps God knew we would need these words 72 years from the time they were written. These words carry not only the quiet confidence of a proper, post-war, English academic, but the assurances of his Heavenly Father, who has always called his people to live life fully, to find joy in the moment, and to serve our fellow man in times of crisis. Psalm 29:5-7
Does that make C.S. Lewis a prophet? I don’t think it matters. What matters is that these words carry the impact of wisdom, confidence and holiness which cause me to stand a little straighter, breathe a little easier, and love a little more deeply.
So, is C.S. Lewis a prophet? You decide.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us are going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
C.S. Lewis – “On Living in an Atomic Age” 1948