Exploring Rhetoric in Apologetics

An essay I wrote for a class last semester, where I did a rhetorical analysis of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. You can download it at the link below.


“A former atheist who was persuaded by his friend J.R.R. Tolkien to convert to Christianity, C.S. Lewis once gave a series of talks on BBC radio from 1941 to 1944 (the transcripts later published as his famous book, Mere Christianity) to tell atheists why there was a reason to believe in God. Mere Christianity belongs in the field of Christian apologetics, a discipline concerned with the defence of the Christian faith. This book is remarkable for how it has persuaded people since its publication till today to come to the Christian faith: people who have attributed their conversion to it not only include Lewis’s contemporaries such as English philosopher C.E.M Joad, but also people today, such as Dr. Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project, and Charles Colson – infamous for his part in the Watergate Scandal – who post-conversion became involved in prison ministry. What enables Mere Christianity to remain so persuasive even to modern readers? The interplay between rhetor, audience, and timing within the rhetorical situation is of interest here. Every reader who picks up Mere Christianity creates a new rhetorical situation between C.S. Lewis, himself, and the moment he reads it. One can see how Mere Christianity as a book has to remain persuasive in each of these different rhetorical situations if it is to be an effective apologia. C.S. Lewis thus wrote an apologetic text that transcended his original rhetorical situation – his intellectual and empathetic authority appeals to a generally logically-minded audience in any time and place. It is this versatility of Mere Christianity that enables it to be just as persuasive even in the 21st century.”

Mere Christianity – A Timeless Defence of Christianity

Of interest to NUS USP students: this was for the second assignment of the Writing and Critical Thinking module UWC2101B: Civic Discourse in a Fractious World by Dr. Mark Brantner.

3 thoughts on “Exploring Rhetoric in Apologetics

  1. Wow, I knew that C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were friends, but I didn’t know that Tolkien had anything to do with his conversion to Christianity. I love C.S. Lewis’s writing and beautifully simple explanations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s