Literature Study GuidesMere ChristianityWriting And Reception Of Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity | Study Guide

C.S. Lewis

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Mere Christianity | Writing and Reception of Mere Christianity


Creation of Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity did not begin as a book. During the first few years of World War II, the British Broadcasting Corporation contacted C.S. Lewis after reading The Problem of Pain. Executive James Welch wanted to give the British people hope in the middle of the German blitz, when religion seemed inconsequential and yet needed more than ever. He reached out to Lewis, but he was not a fan of the radio format. He agreed to Welch's request, and they began corresponding. The first 15-minute talk aired on August 6, 1941. Audiences loved it, and the BBC contracted Lewis to deliver a series of four talks. The talks were published under different titles before they were edited and given the preface and the title they now have, Mere Christianity, in 1952.

The book went largely unnoticed. To say its popularity has skyrocketed since then is an understatement. Mere Christianity has been translated into more than 35 languages. Since the turn of the century sales have exceeded 3.5 million English-language copies alone. Lewis presented the core of Christianity, and his work is beloved and accepted by denominations as diverse as Mormon and Catholic. He also succeeded at something else—a push toward Christian unity and away from denominationalism. Today a number of converts of the book have written their story, including the founder of Domino's Pizza, Tom Monaghan, and the Watergate convict Charles Colson. Lewis has won a following of theologists who continue to write apologia.

Mere Christianity is not without its critics. Lewis's assertion of the "trilemma" has been criticized as logically flawed and is a contention point for atheists.

In addition to the reams of scholarly articles grappling with Lewis's ideas, the text itself has several "biographies" written about it. Paul McCusker's C.S. Lewis and Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created a Classic was published in 2014. George M. Marsden's C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity: A Biography appeared in 2016.

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