Free Public Lecture on Religion and C.S. Lewis To Be Held at Westminster College 


Dr. Cliff CainArea residents will have the opportunity to attend the first in a new series of lectures on religion and C.S. Lewis at Westminster College at 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 7, in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury in Fulton, MO.

The inaugural C.S. Lewis Lecture, entitled “Between Athens and Jerusalem: The Necessary Dilemma of Being a Thinking Christian,” will be delivered by Dr. Cliff Cain, Westminster Professor of Religious Studies and current holder of a new Westminster professorship, The Harrod-C.S. Lewis Professorship in Religious Studies.

According to Dr. Cain, the first section of the lecture will discuss C.S. Lewis himself, noted novelist, poet, critic, academician and lay theologian from Belfast, Ireland, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia.  A declared atheist at the age of 15, Lewis converted to Christianity at the age of 33 and became one of the most prolific and distinguished advocates and defenders of the Christian religion in the 20th century.

The second part of the lecture will focus on the legacy of C.S. Lewis for today’s people and society, especially for academic settings such as Westminster.

“Suffice it to say, Dr. Lewis was committed to his religious and theological points of view but was open to discuss these subjects with those who disagreed with him such as his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien,” says Dr. Cain.

The last section of the lecture will explain Dr. Cain’s belief in a necessary dialogue to take place between reason and faith, which Athens and Jerusalem symbolize.

Future lectures in the series will be planned by Dr. Cain for himself and others on themes that were accented by C.S. Lewis and are pertinent to religious faith today.

The Lewis Legacy Lectures are made possible by a new professorship that was established in January and is funded by a bequest from Jim and Sharon Harrod. 

“My wife and I initiated this professorship to give back to the College,” says Harrod.  “I’ve always admired C.S. Lewis and because of the English connection, I thought it fitting.”

Jim Harrod is a member of the Westminster Class of 1957 and has served on the Westminster Board of Trustees since 1995.  He was born in Mexico, MO and attended Fulton High School where he has named student body president.

The Harrod-C.S. Lewis Professorship in Religious Studies will contribute to the enduring legacy of Professor Lewis by advocating intelligent, mature reflection and discussion of relevant topics and issues of religion and faith and will also celebrate Westminster College’s already-existent British connection through Sir Winston Churchill’s epic “Iron Curtain Speech” in 1946, the Churchill Institute, and the Center for Engaging the World.

At the time of the announcement, Dr. Cain was named to be the first to hold this professorship.  This position will provide him with the opportunity to conduct research, engage in writing and submit products for potential publications.

“The Harrod-C.S. Lewis Professorship of Religious Studies will honor the legacy of C.S. Lewis—a creative thinker, gifted writer, highly-regarded teacher and widely-respected individual,” says Dr. Cain. “As the occupant of this Professorship, I plan to use topics and issues that C.S. Lewis accented in his writings as a guide and springboard for the various programs. For example, he was very interested in how science and religion related, was personally affected by philosophical issues such as the problem of pain and suffering and frequently used fiction to devise metaphors for the religious journey and the Christian faith.”

The Reverend Clifford Chalmers Cain, Ph.D., previously taught at Franklin College of Indiana and has served as Professor of Religious Studies at Westminster for the past three years.  He holds both a doctorate in theology and one in ecology and is the author of six books, six collections of sermons and numerous articles and book reviews.  This summer he will serve for three months as Theologian-in-Residence at the Church of the Holy Cross in Hilo, Hawaii.