C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity

C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity : A Biography

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Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis's eloquent and winsome defense of the Christian faith, originated as a series of BBC radio talks broadcast during the dark days of World War Two. Here is the story of the extraordinary life and afterlife of this influential and much-beloved book. George Marsden describes how Lewis gradually went from being an atheist to a committed Anglican--famously converting to Christianity in 1931 after conversing into the night with his friends J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugh Dyson--and how Lewis delivered his wartime talks to a traumatized British nation in the midst of an all-out war for survival. Marsden recounts how versions of those talks were collected together in 1952 under the title Mere Christianity, and how the book went on to become one of the most widely read presentations of essential Christianity ever published, particularly among American evangelicals. He examines its role in the conversion experiences of such figures as Charles Colson, who read the book while facing arrest for his role in the Watergate scandal.
Marsden explores its relationship with Lewis's Narnia books and other writings, and explains why Lewis's plainspoken case for Christianity continues to have its critics and ardent admirers to this day. With uncommon clarity and grace, Marsden provides invaluable new insights into this modern spiritual classic.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 114 x 191 x 30.48mm | 340g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 0691153736
  • 9780691153735
  • 598,683

Back cover copy

"A superb study of C. S. Lewis's greatest work. Marsden succeeds both in illuminating the success of Mere Christianity and enriching our own reading of this seminal work."--Alister McGrath, author of C. S. Lewis--A Life

"This is a match made in heaven: C. S. Lewis, modernity's most influential Christian voice, interpreted by George Marsden, leading historian of Christian intellectual culture. Mere Christianity has taken on a life of its own, winning converts by its peculiar blend of rhetoric and reason. In unveiling the life of this book and taking the measure of its influence, Marsden has given us an indispensable key to the mind and stature of its author."--Carol Zaleski, coauthor of The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings

"A significant contribution to Lewis scholarship. No one has surveyed the reception history of Mere Christianity as well as Marsden has done here, and given the enduring popularity and influence of the book, this is a task well worth doing."--Alan Jacobs, author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis

"Though there have been analyses of Mere Christianity before, none has been so comprehensive or serious as this one. Marsden has subjected Lewis's book to an assessment more searching and satisfying than anything so far in print."--Michael Ward, University of Oxford, author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis
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Table of contents

Introduction 1 Chapter 1 War Service 19 Chapter 2 Broadcast Talks 35 Chapter 3 Loved or Hated 58 Chapter 4 A Classic as Afterthought 84 Chapter 5 Into the Evangelical Orbit 97 Chapter 6 Many-Sided Mere Christianity 116 Chapter 7 Critiques 139 Chapter 8 The Lasting Vitality of Mere Christianity 153 Appendix Changes in Mere Christianity Compared to the Original Three Books 189 Acknowledgments 193
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Review Text

"A superb study of C. S. Lewis's greatest work. Marsden succeeds both in illuminating the success of Mere Christianity and enriching our own reading of this seminal work."--Alister McGrath, author of C. S. Lewis--A Life
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Review quote

"A clear and deeply informed account of a religious work that seems to have no expiration date."--Kirkus "Admirers of Lewis as well as those interested in the origins of recent Christian thought will be happy to dive into this densely packed volume."--Publishers Weekly "Books on Lewis abound. Marsden's belongs on the top shelf."--Booklist "[A]n insightful historical sketch"--The Gospel Coalition "If Marsden's biography of Mere Christianity encourages his readers to read or reread it for themselves, it may in its own way be an antidote for the attention to self that so dominates our culture."--Gilbert Meilaender, Commonweal "Marsden's book is fascinating and well-written and researched. It makes one want to go back to read Mere Christianity itself."--Frank Freeman, University Bookman "George Marsden provides a splendid account of the book's evolution ... and its reception."--Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald "Marsden's work is a terrific exemplification of the contribution to knowledge which can be made by study of the reception history of texts... Fascinating insights emerge."--Peter Anthony, Church Times "[A] fascinating exploration of one of the most influential religious books of modern times."--Ryder Miller, San Francisco Book Review "Marsden's 'biography' of Lewis's Mere Christianity is an excellent commentary on a classic of modern Christian literature on spirituality."--Choice
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About George M. Marsden

George M. Marsden is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. His books include Fundamentalism and American Culture, Jonathan Edwards: A Life, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, and The Soul of the American University. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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Rating details

234 ratings
3.87 out of 5 stars
5 26% (61)
4 42% (98)
3 26% (62)
2 4% (9)
1 2% (4)
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