Long before James Bond, the popular Christian apologist C.S. Lewis undertook a wartime mission for MI6 to help the British defeat the Nazis during World War II, a professor at Union University in Tennessee says.
During the war, Lewis undertook a secret mission for the British spy agency to record a message to "win the hearts of the Icelandic people" prior to a surprise invasion of Iceland.
"In the Battle of the Atlantic, Iceland could have provided Germany with a strategic naval and air base," wrote Hal Poe, the Charles Colson professor of Faith and Culture at Union University, in an article in Christianity Today. "Instead, thanks to the British invasion, Iceland provided the ideal base for seaplanes to search for the German naval vessels that prowled the Atlantic sinking the merchant fleet with its crucial supplies."
As it turns out, the best-selling author of Mere Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters was recruited by MI6's Joint Broadcasting Committee to broadcast to people in occupied territory during the war, Poe wrote.
"Perhaps one of his former pupils at Oxford recommended him for his mission," Poe wrote. "It was an unusual mission for which few people were suited. J.R.R. Tolkien had the knowledge base for the job, even beyond that of Lewis, but Tolkien lacked other skills that Lewis possessed. ... In the 1930s, Lewis was the best show in town. Somehow Lewis had developed the skill to speak to an audience and hold them in rapt attention, in spite of his academic training rather than because of it."
At the time, those working for the Joint Broadcasting Committee were a "fledgling group of amateurs desperately working to save their island home from disaster," Poe wrote.
"The Joint Broadcasting Committee recruited C. S. Lewis to record a message to the people of Iceland to be broadcast by radio within Iceland," Poe wrote. "Lewis made no record of his assignment, nor does he appear to have mentioned it to anyone. Without disclosing his involvement with military intelligence, however, Lewis did make an indiscreet disclosure to his friend Arthur Greeves in a letter dated May 25, 1941. Lewis remarked that three weeks earlier he had made a gramophone record which he heard played afterwards."
During the broadcast, Lewis spoke on "The Norse Spirit in English Literature," providing a "touchstone between the Norse people and the English."
In a blog entry titled, "Holy Screwtape! Young C.S. Lewis secretly worked with MI6," Terry Mattingly wrote he has an entire room in his house dedicated to the Oxford don's books, but was completely surprised by Poe's "news scoop."
"It argues that, while no one is claiming Lewis ever ran around with a gun and a decoder ring, the young Oxford don appears to have done some work for MI6, as in Her Majesty's Secret Service," Mattingly wrote. "Yes, you read that right. This kind of adds a new layer of meaning to discussions of an 'Inner Ring' and talk about devilish high-ranking agents working with case officers to snare souls."
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