By Chelsea Rankin and Erin Pradia (originally published in PHC Herald)
Patrick Henry College
Courtesy picture of Kim Gilnett
“Just like his character Reepicheep, he was there to take ground, not give ground,” Gilnett said.
In addition to Lewis’ characters, his ability to articulate truth struck Gilnett when he read Mere Christianity after becoming a Christian in junior high. In college, Gilnett double-majored in Communication and Biblical Literature, then began his studies of Lewis in the late 1970s. Now, after over 30 years of study, he is a board member of the C.S. Lewis Foundation, was involved in rebuilding the Kilns, Lewis’ estate, and gives lectures on Lewis and his legacy.
Gilnett gave two lectures on Lewis at PHC, as well as speaking in chapel. His first lecture — entitled “The Man and the Message” — summarized Lewis’ views on Christianity. Gilnett observed that Lewis did not merely believe, but actively lived out his beliefs on a day-to-day basis. For instance, Lewis believed in the sacred nature of every human being, and as a result, placed a large emphasis on converting people.
In a culture that cries out for absolutes, Lewis created a fantasy world where readers could discover truth. Narnia is a world with clear distinctions; a world where truth is black and white. Dr. Bonnie Libby, PHC Assistant Professor of Literature, believes Lewis is so appealing to Americans because he wrapped his ideas in a story.
“Readers love stories, not sermons,” Libby said. “That’s what Jesus did. He told stories.”
Lewis lived a life rich in faith and compassion for humanity. Just as Lewis lived his life in God’s purpose, Gilnett challenged PHC students to do the same. “Each of us has a great deal called of us — we are called into His purpose.”