Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Presented to a meeting of the Inkling Folk Fellowship (IFF), July 23rd, 2021.

Zoom Session Link:

Research Question•Why does Lewis’s work of popular apologetics continue to find a wide readership while other excellent books in the same genre—e.g., Sayers’s Creed or Chaos—do not?

Christianity Today Survey (2000): Most influential Christian books

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1942-44; 1952) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (1937) Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (1932-67) J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (1968) G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908) Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948) Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (1978) Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (1927) Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932)


•While Lewis’s understanding of Christian doctrine and his mastery of logical argument are important, the success of Mere Christianity has more to do with the style through which the author communicated its content. •Lewis’s apologetic theory led him to focus on the core truths of Christianity and to describe them in an appropriate style, given the nature of his audience (including that of the original BBC broadcast talks). •Lewis was successful in creating a knowledgeable, familiar, and trustworthy persona through his use of multiple tones, and he blended rational argument with imagination to create memorable metaphors and analogies that captivated both his audience’s imagination and intellect.