A: Yes. The books of C.S. Lewis had a very profound, indirect affect on me. Lewis, of course, was a Catholic-Anglican rather than an evangelical, but he erected around me all the scaffolding of orthodox Christianity, in terms of which I was opened to the authentic Gospel. His writings still help me. He was certainly the 20th century’s No. 1 apologist. The older I get, the more I appreciate his real genius in Christian insight and communication. He was never my professor. He was a professor of English and the most popular lecturer at Oxford. He was, in fact, operating weekly as the anchor man in the Socratic Society. It was a club where inquirers, with an interest in Christianity, could hear the pros and the cons of the Christian faith.
Q: You’re such a prolific writer yourself, but you’re probably best known for one book, “Knowing God,” first published in 1973. Why do you think that particular book has been such a big seller?
A: It rang a bell because it covered ground and did a job that many people felt needed to be done, but which nobody was attempting at that stage. What was happening was that in evangelical circles, all the emphasis was being laid on personal experience and devotion in the sense in which husbands and wives are devoted to each other. There was not a great deal of intellectual effort going along with it. What I did in “Knowing God” is to write a series of practical articles intended to lead the reader to faith.
I was starting with the very basics that Christians believe about God and working through the aspects of God and the Trinity. I went on with the Gospel and to a series of chapters in the book that were called “Behold Your God.” They were all about living by faith … as the true focus of real life (so that) you are more alive, you see more, you understand more, and you live in a deeper level than anyone can do otherwise. Well, it rang a bell. So the book has sold well and continues to sell well, something like 30,000 copies a year. It’s found a niche.