Thoughts From Watching 'The Most Reluctant Convert'

Some facts and thoughts on CS Lewis's biopic, The Most Reluctant Convert

Last week, the recent CS Lewis’s biopic, aptly titled The Most Reluctant Convert, was still in theatres, and I felt that watching it was a great way to celebrate this site’s anniversary, my own birthday, and CS Lewis’s too. Here are some details and thoughts about the movie (no spoilers!).

This isn’t the first movie about Lewis’s life. In 1993, Anthony Hopkins and Debrah Winger starred in Shadowlands, a dramatization of the unlikely and bittersweet love story of Lewis and his wife, American writer Joy Davidman. That movie was adapted from a 1985 play. The play’s director, Norman Stone, worked with the Fellowship for Performing Arts to write and produce The Most Reluctant Convert – itself a play turned to film.

The production centers on Lewis’s early life and his conversions – first from materialism to theism, and then more specifically to Christianity. The movie adaptation retains some of the feel of a theater play, frequently breaking the fourth wall and primarily carried by lead actor Max McLean’s excellent delivery. The well-produced dramatizations and overall acting accentuate McLean’s dialogue, breathing some levity and rhythm into what otherwise could have been a very intense 90 minutes. I definitely enjoyed recognizing some of Lewis’s most memorable quotes in McLean’s dialogue.

The Canadian theatrical run has ended. If you weren’t able to catch it, consider checking the movie’s site for next steps. Maybe you can catch the play in an American city, or hopefully the movie hits streaming services sometime soon.

I won’t spoil you any details. I just want to highlight three things that struck me as I watched. First, I was reminded of the fact that Lewis’s intellectual honesty played a role in his conversion. From a biblical viewpoint, this isn’t surprising; the Bible teaches that God has revealed enough of Himself in His creation to make His existence evident. But I still found it interesting that an intellectually honest pursuit of a sound philosophical worldview brought Lewis to the then troubling realization that his materialistic worldview was deficient, and that theism was a firmer ground. It is my hope and prayer that more people from all walks of life pursue their viewpoints with intellectual honesty, to the full depth allowed by their capabilities.

I think it’s unfortunate that strongly held and loosely justified viewpoints are so common in modern society. Whatever you choose to believe, I encourage you to think deeply and clearly about it. I am nowhere near Lewis’s intellect and education, but within my limits, I’ve lived a similar process. Ultimately, I can’t think of a better model than Christianity to represent our reality.

The second thing the film reminded me of is the irreplaceable importance of personal evangelism and open and engaging outreach, at all levels, and in all environments. God has revealed enough of His existence in creation, but general revelation is insufficient to understand His character, His plans and purposes, and the full extent of the reality we live in. Lewis was greatly aided by long and thoughtful conversations, held over many years, with fellow Oxford scholars and theist friends J.R.R. Tolkien, Hugo Dyson and Owen Barfield. Whether it is the labor of earnestly and plainly sharing the gospel, or the more indirect, intellectual, but also important task of apologetics, we cannot underestimate the importance and the impact of sharing our faith with those around us.

This is something that transcends vocation. Not all of us are called into full-time ministry; but whatever our calling, we are expected to pursue it with excellence, bringing a Christian perspective into it as well. These men were perhaps the finest minds in the British literary landscape of the early and mid 20th century. This brought them together. Their friendship transcended their theological beliefs and worldviews, and they were able to eagerly and respectfully discuss these issues. What a great model that more of us would do well to adopt today!

The final thought that struck me is that there is a place for credentials and qualification, but we all have a role to play in advancing the kingdom. Lewis never went to seminary. He was known as a lay theologian. I want to be careful here, because again, we’re talking about a very privileged and portentous mind. The realities of modern society, including specialization and the rise of the corporate church, demand that our pastors and teachers suitably prepare themselves. This is a good thing. However, all of us are uniquely positioned to share what we know and exert influence in our own small sphere.

As someone who has struggled with this, it’s been reassuring to see people like J Warner Wallace and Tim Challis eagerly encouraging lay people like me to write, to speak, and to share. And I want to extend this invitation to you. It’s not about amassing large numbers of followers, or becoming a leader in a field. It’s simply about looking at those around you, looking at what you think you have that they could use, and freely sharing it.

Tags: #movies , #cslewis

Published: November 23, 2021