The interviewer, Sherwood Wirt, plans to publish this interview in the magazine he edits which is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association magazine Decision. In this part of the interview, you’ll see how Wirt presses C.S. Lewis to use the Billy Graham-like language of “making a decision for Christ” and how Lewis resists. –Ken Symes
Sherwood Wirt: In your book Surprised by Joy you remark that you were brought into the Faith kicking and struggling and resentful, with eyes darting in every direction looking for an escape. You suggest that you were compelled, as it were, to become a Christian. Do you feel that you made a decision at the time of your conversion?
C.S. Lewis: I would not put it that way. What I wrote in Surprised by Joy was that ‘before God closed in on me, I was in fact offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice.’ But I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object rather than the subject in this affair. I was decided upon. I was glad afterwards at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying. ‘Put down your gun and we’ll talk.’
Wirt: That sounds to me as if you came to a very definite point of decision.
Lewis: Well, I would say that the most deeply compelled action is also the freest action. By that I mean, no part of you is outside the action. It is a paradox. I expressed it in Surprised by Joy by saying that I chose, yet it really did not seem possible to do the opposite.
C.S. Lewis, “Cross-Examination,” God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 261 with appropriate additions from the originally published interview in Decision magazine, September 1963, ©1963 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.