The spiritual roots of the faith of C.S. Lewis

This website, Fatheroftheinklings.com, is dedicated in part to increasing public awareness of the spiritual links between C.S. Lewis and his literary spiritual father, the man he called his “master,” Victorian Scotsman George MacDonald. It is because of MacDonald’s foundational role in the conversion of C.S. Lewis to Christianity that MacDonald can accurately be called the “Father of the Inklings.”

George MacDonald: The Father of C.S. Lewis’s Conversion

It was in 1916, while waiting for a train as a youthful eighteen year old atheist, that Lewis finally bought a copy of a book he had seen several times previously, George MacDonald’s Phantastes. Lewis credits that purchase as initiating a series of events that led him more than a dozen years later to acknowledge the truth of  Christianity.

George MacDonald: The Father of C.S. Lewis’s Thought

In the decades that followed, as he himself unwittingly became the most widely read Christian apologist  of the 20th century, Lewis repeatedly acknowledged MacDonald’s pivotal and ongoing role in the development of his spiritual thought. His progression  from atheism to Christianity, and MacDonald’s role in it, are recounted in Lewis’s autobiography Surprised By Joy (1956) and in his published tribute to MacDonald, George MacDonald, An Anthology (1947). References to MacDonald are sprinkled in Lewis’s letters throughout his entire life–he was always reading MacDonald. MacDonald played a significant character role in Lewis’s classic The Great Divorce (1945).

George MacDonald: The Grandfather of The Chronicles of Narnia

Perhaps one of the least known but significant facts linking MacDonald and Lewis has its genesis in MacDonald’s imaginative opening scenes to Phantastes and Lilith–the two towering bookend masterpieces of his writing career, published in 1855 and 1895. No insightful reader can read these first two of MacDonald’s chapters and doubt that with their publication, The Chronicles of Narnia was born.

More such connections between C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald, as well as more lengthy descriptions of the two examples mentioned above from Phantastes and Lilith, are found in the Introduction to Your Life in Christ.