Why ‘Mere Christianity’ Won’t Go Out of Style

by Dan DeWitt

It’s the book that crushed a political hatchet man, led a world-renowned scientist to faith, and robbed a prideful entrepreneur of billions of dollars. The politician was Chuck Colson of the famed Watergate scandal; the scientist was Francis Collins, nominated by President Obama as director of the National Institutes of Health; and the businessman was Thomas Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza.

And the book with such transformational power to point them all to Christ was an edited collection of wartime talks by an Oxford don nicknamed Jack.

Originally published in 1952, C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity has taken on a life of its own. The book remains favored among Christians and challenged by skeptics. In other words, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Biography of a Book

That’s why it makes perfect sense that George Marsden, professor of history emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, has authored a biography not so much of Lewis, but of his powerhouse publication that’s now sold more than 3.5 million copies in English alone.

In C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A Biography, Marsden provides an insightful historical sketch of Mere Christianity, giving attention to the life of its author, the decade-long process of its publication, and an overview of its influence.

Like any book on Lewis, there’s the obligatory biographical survey of his life. But Marsden doesn’t meander. Like interstate exit signs and off-ramps, he gives enough bits of intrigue along the way that curious readers can figure out where they want to detour and peruse other sources for more details.

Written in Blood

Lewis’s booming voice competed with Hitler’s bombs for the attention of the British people. Oxford was one of the few places Hitler didn’t blast. That worked out well for Lewis, who welcomed children from the city of London into his home for safety. But the challenge was that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) wasn’t based in Oxford. It was located in London, a city often the target of daily bombing…

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Why ‘Mere Christianity’ Won’t Go Out of Style