Biola Grieves Loss of Professor Christopher Mitchell

Colleague, C.S. Lewis scholar will be greatly missed

Jul. 11, 2014 By Jenna Bartlo

Christopher Mitchell, professor in Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute, passed away unexpectedly the evening of July 10, 2014. Mitchell, 62, joined the Biola University faculty one year ago and quickly became a beloved professor and friend to students and colleagues alike.

“A careful and imaginative scholar, Chris was a person of deep faith, authentic humility, generous spirit, and resonant compassion. He will be missed,” said David Nystrom, provost and senior vice president.

Biola grieves the loss of this dear member of the Biola community and mourns with his family.

“Though Dr. Mitchell joined Biola from Wheaton College only one year ago, he and Julie quickly became part of our family,” said Biola University President Barry H. Corey. “They loved being here, and we loved having them here. How profoundly sad we are today and how sincerely we extend our prayers and comfort to his wife Julie and their children, in-laws and grandchildren.”

Mitchell was a premier C.S. Lewis scholar and former director of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College in Illinois, a study center devoted to researching the lives and works of influential Christian writers including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others. He is the author of numerous articles on C.S. Lewis.

As a member of the faculty at Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute, one of the largest classical books honors programs at any Christian college, Mitchell worked directly with students in an educational environment modeled on the Socratic approach of Oxford and Cambridge. The institute has always looked to the creative and intellectual legacy of C.S. Lewis as a model, according to Paul Spears, director of the institute.

Mitchell received his master's from Wheaton College, and doctorate from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, where his concentration was historical theology.

A memorial service will be held at Grace EV Free Church in La Mirada on Sunday, July 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Read Mitchell’s article, “Still Looking for C.S. Lewis,” published in Biola Magazine’s 2013 summer issue. 

Watch a collection of Mitchell’s lectures on Open Biola.

Read an interview between Mitchell and professor Fred Sanders at the Scriptorium, the Torrey Honors Institute's blog, published February 19, 2013.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, media relations specialist. For more information, contact Jenna at (562) 777-4061 or


  • Robert Kelley Jul. 11, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    I had the privilege of having Dr. Mitchell as my Torrey mentor for my last semester at Biola. He was such a kind man. May we all learn to love like him.

  • Luci Shaw Jul. 11, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Chris Mitchell combined so many admirable qualities. Never an ivory-tower scholar but an open-hearted enthusiast for whatever is good, true, and of good report, etc., his leadership at Wheaton's Wade Collection made a mark for Lewis studies and opened up new opportunities for students and scholars world-wide to view and learn from the writings of other sterling writers beside Lewis. What a loss!

  • Daniel Gorski Jul. 11, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    Chris Mitchell was a dear acquaintance. An occasional speaker at Alcatel-Lucent's Religious Heritage Month, he inspired Christians and non-Christians with his stories about C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein and the Inklings. Our kids played Little League baseball together and my son sought him out as a mentor at Biola. His many kindnesses will live on in the Wheaton and Biola families as well as segments of the marketplace fortunate enough to encounter this dear saint. Deep condolences to Julie and the rest of the family.

  • Micayla Hardisty Jul. 11, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    I had the privilege of being taught by Dr. Mitchell over the last year. Although he was not my mentor, I remember distinctly several sessions he led. I was deeply impressed by his love for Christ and the sincere but joyful manner with which he interacted with all his students. The way he lived his life encourages me to continue to seek Christ in all I do. I will miss him very much.

  • Douglas Gresham Jul. 11, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Chris has been a dear and valued friend for a long time and a very welcomed guest in our home. we saw him infrequently but greatly valued his friendship. The world is a poorer place for his loss. A fine Christian has gone to be with Jesus leaving behind him a better world than the one he came to.

  • Fraancis Sunderaraj Jul. 11, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    I first met Chris in Portland, Oregon in 1979. He shared with me that he read the life of Gandhi and was keen to serve his beloved Saviour in India. He and Julie came to India and Chris joined one of the Universities in the State of Andhra Prades for language study. He and I became good friends. I was greatly touched by his deep commitment to our Saviour and his love for India, and I was amazed at him and Julie, their simplicty and adopting three of their four children and the way they brought them up. Later we renewed our friendship when I was a student at Wheaton College Graduate School.My wife and I are deeply shocked to hear about the passing way of one of our very dear friends in Christ and I recollect many memorable moments I spent with him. Could any one please let me have the phone number and email id of Julie? -Rev.Dr.Francis Sunderaraj, Hyderabad, India

  • Jasmine Simeone Jul. 12, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    Christopher Mitchell is a sad loss. He was a much loved friend of the Dorothy L Sayers Society while at the Wade Center, and while we have not heard much from him in the past year since his move, we remember him with great affection. He was always kind and generous in his dealings with our members, and when visiting Britain was an easy guest. Our thoughts and prayers are with his close family and friends.

  • Brad Rhoads Jul. 12, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Chris was one of my mentors. I'll miss him greatly. I know he was working on a book. I don't believe it was ever published. Perhaps Biola could work with his family to publish it, even if it is still unfinished.

  • Nick Batzig Jul. 12, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    I was never able to meet Dr. Mitchell in person but he helped me on numerous occasions, both on the phone and in email correspondence, as I worked on a lecture on Jonathan Edwards' connection to several prominent Scottish theologians. Dr. Mitchell was the first to write on this subject in any substantial way. He was so gracious to freely offer me research help and feedback.

  • Bob Fritch Jul. 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    Was he any relation to Dr. Curtis Mitchell who taught bible when I was there in the late 70's?

  • Kurt Berends Jul. 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Chris embodied so many Christian virtues in his work and relationships. His gracious manner and gentle spirit was a gift to all who knew him. May God's peace touch Julie and the family, as well as colleagues past and present, and they grieve together the loss of a good man.

  • Mike Simon Jul. 14, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    I met Chris about 15 years ago when he led a monthly bible study at Glynnis Orr's home in Wheaton. In addition to his humble and gentle character, he was one of the most transparent people I have ever known. He was always so patient and articulate in listening to and responding to any question I was struggling with spiritually. In recent years, my wife, Kathy, and I got to know and became close friends with Julie and their family. Our hearts are broken over his passing and Julie and their family are always in our prayers.

  • Jeff Calhoun Jul. 15, 2014 at 4:42 PM

    My wife, Susanne (Osborne) Calhoun and I knew Chris during his time at Wheaton. We thought the world of him, and treasure (among many other things) the last time we met Chris and Julie at their house before they moved. I offer the following as an attempt at working out our feelings during this loss... it is not / the greater part / of Beauty / to be fleeting; / yet it flies, / memorial remnants / satisfying or not; / the offering fled / and found no more. // to grasp the flower / is to smother, / the sunset captured / has already set, / and the thunder / cannot be recorded / for zeroes and ones / proffer logic / not Beauty. // Beauty is a timely / Gift, enriching / soul-breathing / the stuff of Life / ever changing / passing on / never to be / grasped, attained, / agained. // Mourn and then / mourn not / Beauty’s flight; / always for a time / the Gifts are given / by the One who / will, on That Day, / make Beauty / eternal, eternally.

  • Susanne Calhoun Jul. 15, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    All week, since I heard the sad and shocking news, I have been remembering countless lessons I learned from Chris: That the world would be a much duller place if God hadn't made the wind - how creative of the Lord to think of this detail (I rarely go for a walk now without noticing the wind . . . and I always think of Chris). That with the right posture, academics can be just another chance to play with God and to approach life with wonder. I have never known anyone who played so thoroughly as they worked so hard. And that, in whatever adventures we are sent on, like Frodo, the truly great thing is to come home and just love your family well. I honor Chris for teaching us all how to wonder, to play, to battle, and to simply cherish the people we are tethered to. My prayers are daily with Julie and his children - those who had the joy of being so closely tethered to Chris and thus feel his loss most painfully.

  • Royce and susan johnson Jul. 27, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    Susan and I traveled with Chris Mitchell on a 1997 Wheaton College "CS Lewis Tour" to Oxford and Cambridge. Reflecting on his passing, Susan commented that "he touched our lives because he cared." We'll miss his person and his insights on Lewis and life. Royce and Susan Johnson

  • Stewart Goetz Jul. 28, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    My wife, Carolyn, and I had the privilege of meeting Chris at the Wade Center in January and May of 2013, just before he left to become a member of the Biola Community. I was writing a book on C. S. Lewis and Chris invited Carolyn and me to his office for tea during our May visit. We chatted for an hour and had a great time. Though we barely knew him, we felt like life-long friends. We are thankful we had the privilege of meeting him. And it was a privilege. Stew and Carolyn Goetz

  • Paul Cole Aug. 14, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    Today when I was searching to reconnect with my friend after many years, I came across the shocking news that Chris is recently gone. I had the honor of meeting Chris and Julie when they first walked into Bethany Chapel in Wheaton, in the early 1980's. When my son Ian died, it was Chris who dragged me out of my room to talk, to pray, to eat and then to see a movie together. He was a true friend when I sorely needed a friend and a source of comfort. This is who Chris was to so many. He was a man of love and is sorely missed by many. Who can measure Julie's loss? My prayers are with her and her children.

  • Julie Mitchell Oct. 16, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Thank you to all who have posted here so thoughtfully. I cherish and save every comment, both for me and for our children and grandchildren. It means so much that you would take the time. For Fraancis Sunderaraj, my email is

  • Ian Docherty Jan. 20, 2015 at 1:31 PM

    I have only recently learned of Chris's passing last July. I have warm memories of the time he and Julie and their children spent here in St. Andrews and were in fellowship with us in St.Andrews Baptist Church I remember visiting them in their home in the lovely little town of Crail in the East Neuk of Fife. My thoughts and prayers are with Julie and the family. He will be sorely missed

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  • Ike Sunu Dec. 27, 2020 at 12:29 PM

    I never once sat down with Dr. Mitchell (this is my greatest regret in terms of my academic career). However, the classes and lectures I attended have remained so vividly in my mind. Multiple times a year I revisit his recorded lectures on the Human Story and have shared them with many friends when they question the relationship they have had with the myths of their youth. People who have never met him watch these lectures and see how his deep faith, warm personality, and endless curiosity shine through. The words he has said years ago are still helping me and my friends.

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