Further Up and Further In: Orthodox Conversations with C.S. Lewis

by Edith Humphrey

C .S. Lewis (1898-1964) remains one of the most prominent modern Christian authors in the West. Many of his works such as the Chronicles of Narnia (including The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters are widely read by both Christians and non-Christians to this day.

Beyond being well-written and entertaining, his writings are all deeply theological. For these reasons Professor Edith Humphrey undertook the task of conversing and comparing Lewis to Orthodox theology, drawing on some of Lewis’ less well-known works.

Each chapter covers a theme explored in Lewis’ writings, with one text by Lewis and one other text (often Orthodox) discussed in detail to delve into the theme.

This format allows the reader to gain a better understanding of Lewis’ thinking and how it both aligns and differs from the Orthodox phronema and theology.

Themes explored include miracles, ascesis, justice and sacraments.

One such chapter explores Creation through a comparison of the Chronicles of Narnia and Fr Alexander Schmemann’s, For the Life of the World. Here the creation narrative in Narnia is recounted and analysed through an Orthodox scriptural understanding and the dependence of the inhabitants of Narnia on Aslan is shown to reflect the Orthodox understanding of humanity’s relationship with God as one of love and thanksgiving.

This book takes its title, Further Up and Further In, from the words of the mouse Reepicheep in The Last Battle – the last of the Narnia books. It also reflects the aims of an Orthodox life in getting ever closer to God.

This book can assist in this struggle by allowing us to better explain our faith to outsiders and by answering some of our own doubts.

Further Up and Further In is by no means an easy read and can be conceptually difficult at times, but on the whole it is worthwhile reading.


Source: Lychnos December 2020 – January 2021