Is Christianity Childish? Rhetorical advice for Christian apologist from C.S. Lewis' essay “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”

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Peter S. Williams

Abstract

In his 1952 essay “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”, C. S. Lewis discusses three approaches to writing children’s literature and defends “that particular type of children’s story which is dearest to my own taste, the fantasy or fairy tale” from the charge that it is “childish”. In this paper, I define Christian apologetics as “the art and science of persuasively communicating and advocating Christian spirituality across spiritualties, through the responsible use of rhetoric, as being objectively beautiful, good and true/reasonable” and see how Lewis’ advice about the rhetoric of children’s stories can be generalized and applied to the discipline of Christian apologetics. In particular, many atheists charge Christian Spirituality with being childish. For example, British atheist Richard Dawkins says that religious people “have their Bronze Age myths, medieval superstitions and childish wishful thinking” (Dawkins, Scientific American). Describing his own childhood, Dawkins says: “I think I did believe it up to the age of eight or nine, when preachers said if you really, really pray for something it can happen. Even moving mountains, I believed it could really happen... I grew up. I put away childish things.” (Dawkins, “Claims Fairy Tales Are Harmful To Children”) In this paper I explore how the dialectical moves made by Lewis in “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” can shape a rational response to such rhetoric.

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How to Cite
Williams, P. S. “Is Christianity Childish? : Rhetorical Advice for Christian Apologist from C.S. Lewis’ Essay ‘On Three Ways of Writing for Children’”. Linguaculture, vol. 13, no. 1, June 2022, pp. 39-55, doi:10.47743/lincu-2022-1-0232.
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Author Biography

Peter S. Williams, NLA University College, Norway

Based in Southampton, England, Christian philosopher and apologist Peter S. Williams (MA, MPhil) is ‘Assistant Professor in Communication and Worldviews’ at NLA University College at Gimlekollen, Kristiansand, Norway. He speaks internationally on behalf of the truth, goodness and beauty of being a disciple of Jesus. Peter is a trustee of the Christian Evidence Society, a Montgomery Trust Lecturer and both a Mentor and Travelling Speaker for the European Leadership Forum. Peter has authored various books, including: Apologetics in 3D: Essays on Apologetics and Spirituality (Wipf and Stock, 2021), Outgrowing God? A Beginner’s Guide to Richard Dawkins and the God Debate (Cascade, 2020), Getting at Jesus: A Comprehensive Critique of Neo-Atheist Nonsense About the Jesus of History (Wipf & Stock, 2019), A Faithful Guide to Philosophy: An Introduction to the Love of Wisdom (Wipf & Stock, 2019), C.S. Lewis vs the New Atheists (Paternoster, 2013), Understanding Jesus: Five Ways to Spiritual Enlightenment (Paternoster, 2011) and A Sceptic’s Guide to Atheism (Paternoster, 2009). His peer reviewed papers have appeared in journals including Philosophia Christi, Linguaculture, Quodlibet, Theofilos and Think.