Tollers and Jack

A good example of an informed, gracious Christian’s participation in the salvation of another took place on September 19, 1931, at Magdalen College, Oxford. That evening three men were strolling along Addison’s Walk. One man, Jack, was a longtime atheist who had recently embraced theism but had many objections to Christianity. The other two men were Christians. They shared a common interest in mythology and that night were discussing what gave myths their truth. Tollers, one of the Christians, argued that the truth of myth is the degree to which it reflects the story of Jesus. He then went on to explain and argue for the truthfulness of Christianity. The conversation continued into the early morning back in Jack’s room.

The arguments and manner of Tollers and Hugo Dyson, the third friend, had a profound impact on Jack. Twelve days later Jack wrote in a letter, “I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ—in Christianity…. My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it.”10 Jack had committed himself intellectually and spiritually to Jesus. Over the next thirty years Jack grew to become the most popular Christian apologist of the twentieth century. Jack was the nickname of C. S. Lewis, author of not only apologetics works, but also of novels for both children and adults as well as works in his academic specialty— medieval and renaissance literature.

Tollers went on to incorporate his ideas about myth into his own elaborate mythology. His works of fantasy are now widely regarded as the greatest works of the fantasy genre. Tollers was the nickname of J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as The Hobbit.

Tolkien and Dyson had no way of knowing, of course, what impact that conversation would have, or even that the conversation on their walk would turn to that subject. But they were prepared to respond when the subject did arise. And who knows how many others they helped in the same way.

This post is an excerpt from the Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell. It is used with permission. You can purchase this resource in its entirety here.


Published October 16, 2017