'C. S. Lewis was a Secret Government Agent'
- Jim Denison Denison Forum on Truth and Culture
- 2015 11 Dec
So headlines Christianity Today, breaking the news that one of the world's most beloved theologians served his country in a way no one knew until now.
Next to the Bible, Lewis's Mere Christianity has been the most formative book in my life. When I came to Christ as a teenager, I still struggled with significant doubts and questions. Lewis was the first Christian intellectual I encountered. His reasoned approach to faith made a lifelong impression on me.
I have visited his home outside of Oxford, as well as the Oxford pub where he and his literary friends known as the "Inklings" often gathered. I have read his published works and lectured often on his life and faith. I admire his military service in World War I, during which he was wounded in battle. But I had no idea that he secretly served the British government during World War II.
Here's the story: When British soldiers took control of Iceland, U.K. authorities needed to convince the citizens that they should serve the Allied cause. This would allow the British to redeploy their much-needed troops closer to the front lines.
Someone in the government knew that Lewis was a scholar of Icelandic literature, so they enlisted him in the cause. Lewis recorded a lecture in May 1941 that demonstrated the common cultural ties between the U.K. and Iceland. We know this now only because a noted Lewis historian, Harry Lee Poe, has discovered a 78 rpm recording of part of Lewis's lecture. We don't know how well the lecture was received in Iceland. Lewis kept his service hidden from even his closest friends.
Here's the ironic part: The clandestine government agency that enlisted Lewis in the Allied cause is known popularly as MI6. You know it as the organization for which the mythical James Bond works. But an Oxford don known to the world for his intellect and creativity actually served that agency, using his genius for a greater cause.
Today our civilization finds itself once again in a global conflict, this time with ISIS and other radical Islamic organizations. According to an ABC News poll, eighty-one percent of Americans expect another serious attack on our soil. The number of U.S. citizens who say terrorism is a critical issue in this country has risen from fifty-three percent in 2011 to seventy-five percent today. Forty-seven percent of Americans worry that they or someone in their family will be a victim of terrorism.
You can help, in more ways than you might think.
You might be called to military service, risking your life to defend our freedom. You might be called to public service, engaging in our political process for Kingdom purposes. As a follower of Jesus, you are definitely called to befriend Muslims in your community, showing them God's love in yours. And you are called to intercede daily for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), our military, and our nation.
Paul likened believers to members of one body, whether we are hands or feet, eyes or ears (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). If C. S. Lewis could serve the cause of freedom by lecturing on Icelandic literature, we can all use our gifts for the common good and God's glory.
Such service glorifies our King and benefits us as well. Famed humanitarian Albert Schweizer once told an audience, "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."
Will you be "really happy" today?
Photo courtesy: flickr.com
Publication date: December 11, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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