Samples, Kenneth Richard. 2019. Classic Christian Thinkers: An Introduction. Covina, CA: RTB.
Samples is a senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe and an adjunct instructor of apologetics at Biola University. He is the author of several books, including Without a Doubt and 7 Truths That Changed the World.
Samples introduces us to nine scholars: 1) Irenaeus (Architect of Christian Thought); 2) Athanasius (Defender of Christian Orthodoxy); 3) Augustine (Theologian of Grace); 4) Anselm (Patriarch of Perfect Being Theology); 5) Thomas Aquinas (The Quintessential Catholic Philosopher); 6) Martin Luther (Father of Protestantism); 7) John Calvin ( The Reformation’s Systematic Theologian; 8) Blaise Pascal (Historic Christianity’s Renaissance Man); and 9) C.S. Lewis (Mere Christian Apologist and Writer). His conclusion is for us to “Take Up and Read.” There are two appendices: A) Church History and Historical Theology Timeline and B) Promoting Truth, Unity, and Charity within Christendom.
Here we summarize only the chapter on Lewis: Samples notes his life and events, influential writings and the key positions Lewis held. He outlines seven key arguments that Lewis used as inferences to prove Jesus’s identity. One of them is the longing for meaning, suggesting that “A person’s profound longing for meaning and transcendence in life is best explained as a pointer to God” (171).
Lewis also argued from reason, as in The Case for Christianity and Miracles, as well as from morality, as in both Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man. Lewis’s underlying idea in Mere Christianity is that “individual believers cannot live as ‘mere Christians’ but rather must embrace a fuller version (a denomination or branch) of the faith” (174). But, regardless of denominational affiliations, genuine Christians must stand together.
Samples evaluates Lewis by looking at his books. In The Screwtape Letters “Lewis describes human moral virtue and shows how that integrity can be corrupted” (177). Lewis values apologetics and uses it as a basic kind of reasoning that emanates from God’s grace and demonstrate a faith that perseveres.
Samples closes his account of Lewis by observing his influence on today’s apologetics, by giving a timeline of his life, noting resources on C.S. Lewis and asking five questions about how Lewis has influenced anyone reading the chapter.