Mere Christianity

80 years on, Life & Faith charts the ripple effects of a much-loved book.

“I got out a yellow pad, cause I’m a lawyer, and I would have two columns – there is a God, there isn’t a God; Jesus Christ is God, he isn’t God – I went down that, and I went through the whole rational process and I thought to myself wow … I’ve never gone into a courtroom and argued against a mind like this.”

On Wednesday 6 August 1941, a relatively unknown Oxford don fronted up to a microphone at the BBC in London to give the first of a series of talks that would evolve into what is probably one of the most influential books of the 20th century – one which continues to have ripple effects well into the 21st. 

C. S. Lewis spoke to his fellow citizens, during a time of crisis and hardship, about the nature of reality, morality, human nature, God, and the meaning of life. Later he referred to his account of what he believed as “mere” Christianity – the faith that has been common to Christians everywhere and at all times, explained in ways that stirred people’s imaginations and satisfied their intellectual curiosity.

Mere Christianity has only grown in popularity, decade after decade, and in this episode of Life & Faith Simon and Natasha hear from a number of people who have loved this book and would even say that it changed their lives. 

John Lennox – like Lewis, an Oxford don and Northern Irishman – describes what it was like to hear Lewis speak in the flesh. Nixon’s “hatchet man”, Chuck Colson, who famously became a Christian just before going to prison over his role in Watergate and devoted his life to prison reform and ministry until his death in 2012, tells his story of transformation. And three young Aussies describe their own encounters with this still compelling book, 80 years on from its first incarnation.

“‘A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.’ So yeah, I wasn’t very careful. And let this happen … thank God.” 


The surviving recording of C. S. Lewis’ original broadcast talks 

Chuck Colson, “How God Turned Around Nixon’s Hatchet Man” 

George Marsden, C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A Biography