C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength is often regarded as one of his most bizarre and unwieldy books. There are very few studies of it, and those that do exist tend to focus on its central social critique, leaving its ancillary theological and philosophical themes largely unexplored. This article examines the motif of conversion in That Hideous Strength. It traces out the contrasting conversion narratives of Mark and Jane Studdock, situates them in relation to the larger social message of the novel, and then draws two applications for what we can learn about evangelism today from this book.
In Rom 10:13, to “call on the name of the Lord” (ἐπικαλεῖν τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου) involves more than simply invoking the Lord, but expresses a prayer for deliverance with cultic connotations, that is “to worship Jesus as Lord.” Paul’s use of ἐπικαλέω in Rom 10:13 resonates with strong liturgical overtones, draws on a long OT tradition of employing such language in cultic settings, parallels closely other NT texts that are cultic in orientation, and coheres with our earliest evidence about the worship practices of the early church. These observations, in turn, suggest a tighter thematic relationship between Rom 10 and Paul’s description of humanity’s fundamental predicament as false worship in ch. 1, his exhortation for renewed spiritual worship in ch. 12, and his vision for unified Jew/Gentile worship in ch. 15.
The literary notion of “implied reader” invokes a series of hermeneutically significant questions: What is it? Who produces it? and How can it be identified? These questions naturally lead to a further query: What is the relationship between this implied reader of a text and an actual reader of a text? This type of study is often associated primarily with reader-response theory and purely literary approaches. However, the concept can help uncover an often-neglected aspect of biblical interpretation, namely, the role of the reader. If biblical authors envision certain types of readers, then identifying the nature of this “implied audience” is an important part of the interpretive task. Further, because Christians read the biblical writings within the context of a canonical collection, this concept can be pursued in light of the Christian canon as a whole. Through this literary and theological study, I seek to demonstrate that strategic biblical texts envision an “ideal reader,” namely, an actual reader who seeks to identify with the implied reader.