All or Nothing

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 86, Autumn 2000 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

By 2000 it was reasonable to assume that no further Lewis essays were going to surface. But Perry Bramlett has now discovered a brief essay that apparently no other Lewis experts have heard of.

In 1944 this five-paragraph evangelistic piece was published in a 128-page collection of Christian essays. Lewis’s “All or Nothing” is one of thirty-two essays there, half by “serving chaplains” and a quarter by “broadcasters.” (Lewis’s contribution had appeared earlier in an obscure publication called Think.)

The future of Lewis’s single most evangelistic essay looks bleak. At the time of this writing, it is not under copyright. But if anyone publishes it, the Lewis estate can reportedly copyright it when launching a lawsuit against that publisher. Because current copyright law is vaguely worded and biased in favor of literary estates, the Lewis estate can keep this essay out of the hands of readers for decades. (That is how it treats the wonderful Easley fragment .)

I have a copy of the 1944 book that Perry Bramlett discovered, and I plan to paraphrase Lewis’s essay for my readers in 2001. In the meantime, here is a graceless summary of its points:

  1. Some people think religion is a minor matter.
  2. It is either the most important thing of all, or nothing at all.
  3. Life is spiritual warfare, God and the enemy both want you.
  4. Join God’s army.
  5. Your choice determines your destiny.

For important breakthrough news about the ownership of the Lewis estate (C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.) see pages 7-9.