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Max McLean re-tells C.S. Lewis’ story in ‘The Most Reluctant Convert’ — ‘people really resonate’ with him

You may not know Max McLean’s face, but you may know his rich, baritone voice from the Bible translations he has narrated. His Bible narration is so popular, in fact, that it’s the default choice on many English Bible apps.

“I’ve been asked to do it multiple other times, but I just haven’t been able to carve out the time,” he told me.

Thanks to a new faith-based movie that became a hit, McLean’s face, too, is growing in popularity. 

The film, The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis, re-tells the dramatic conversion story of Lewis, who enrolled at Oxford as an atheist before becoming a Christian thanks to the influence of J. R. R. Tolkien and others. On its opening night last year, The Most Reluctant Convert finished No. 2 at the box office — trailing only Dune — and No. 1 in per-theater average. 

The film is now available on home video.

McLean stars as a middle-aged Lewis in the film, which is a mixture of narration and drama. It was filmed at 18 sites in and around Oxford, England.

The Most Reluctant Convert is based on a stage play of the same name starring McLean, who says he was naturally drawn to Lewis’ story.

“I’m an adult convert to Christianity. He was an adult convert to Christianity. I read his works at an early age in my Christian development,” McLean said. 

Lewis’ atheism was grounded in multiple life tragedies, McLean said.

“He lost his mother to cancer at a very young age,” McLean said. “He had an estranged relationship with his father that got worse when his mother died. He had first-hand experience with the senseless brutality of trench warfare in World War One — he called it the hell where youth and laughter go, only to see horribly smashed men still moving about like crushed beetles.” 

Lewis came to the conclusion that either God did not exist or that God is indifferent to good and evil, McLean said.

Eventually, though, logic and reason — and the Holy Spirit — drew Lewis to Christ. Lewis “saw the contradiction in his own beliefs,” McLean said. 

A line can be called “crooked,” Lewis argued, only because a straight line exists with which to compare it. Similarly, Lewis argued, “What was I comparing this universe with when I called it cruel and unjust?,” McLean said. 

Lewis eventually concluded: “If pain is so undeniably real, [then] that which overcomes pain is even more real, more essential, and that to Lewis was the essence of Christianity,” McLean said.

All the words in the film that are attributed to Lewis are actually from Lewis, McLean added.

“People really resonate with Lewis,” McLean said.

The Most Reluctant Convert debuted as a stage play at the New York City-based Fellowship for Performing Arts, which McLean founded. The theater’s goal is to produce stories from a “Christian worldview to engage a religiously diverse audience.”

“It’s just my feeble attempt of being faithful to the calling that God has given me,” McLean said. “My life verse is Ephesians 210. We were created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. So I’ve always felt that the obligation of a Christian is to listen to the Holy Ghost when He speaks.”

Visit CSLewisMovie.com.

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