Grace In The Arts: C. S. Lewis’s Theology: Somewhere Between Ransom And Reepicheep -- By: James A. Townsend

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 13:1 (Spring 2000)
Article: Grace In The Arts: C. S. Lewis’s Theology: Somewhere Between Ransom And Reepicheep
Author: James A. Townsend

Grace In The Arts:
C. S. Lewis’s Theology: Somewhere Between Ransom And Reepicheep

James A. Townsend

Bible Editor
Cook Communications
Elgin, IL

I. Introduction

Would you like to pretend that you haven’t just read the title above and to try your hand at a trivia quiz? Here goes. Who was the gentleman who:

a) was converted to Christianity while riding to the zoo in a sidecar of his brother’s motorcycle?

b) had his Christianity affirmed by Dr. Bob Jones but questioned by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones(!)?

c) would never have been a professor if the entrance math exam (which he failed to pass twice) hadn’t been conveniently dropped as a requirement?

d) taught at colleges spelled with one letter’s difference-Magdalen and Magdalene?

e) smoked at least sixty cigarettes a day—between pipes?

f) lived in the same house for thirty years with a woman to whom he wasn’t married?

g) had tiffs with the other leading Anglican literary critic of his time (T. S. Eliot)?

h) had as his longest lifetime friend a homosexual (Arthur Greeves)?

i) died the same day as President John F. Kennedy?1

This composite trivia quiz does not sound like the personality profile of a candidate for the “evangelical of the year.” Then again, modern conservatives probably wouldn’t have picked three murderers (or accomplices to murder), such as Moses, David, and Paul were, to have authored nineteen books of God’s inspired Word! In light of this, it’s rather amusing that C. S. Lewis—so much read by evangelicals—would probably be turned away from many of their churches if he were an aspiring pastoral candidate.

In the subtitle for my article, I placed Lewis: “Somewhere between Ransom and Reepicheep.” These two Rs are characters in Lewis’s fiction. The fictional Dr. Elwin Ransom is a Cambridge philologist (as Lewis was) whose first name has the same letters (except the substitution of an “n” for an “s”) as Lewis’s last name. Ransom appears in Lewis’s space trilogy as the Christian character whose chosen role is to save the world. Another of Lewis’s fictional characters, Reepicheep, appears in his Narnia series. Reepicheep, an oversized mouse with a needle-like sword, possesses chutzpah disproportionate to his mousely size. Therefore, I raise the question: did Lewis see himself as Ransom or Reepicheep—or a bit of both? Was he the chosen apologist of the age,

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