Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

It’s been a while since I last read a book and made a review of it. And the latest book I finished reading is C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Okay, so how do I begin this review? I’m not sure how, but I will make a shot.

Mere Christianity blew my mind away. When I got a copy of the book, I already knew that I’ll be diving into the mind of a great thinker. I was right.

The book’s content was first given on air before it was published into three separate parts: The Case for Christianity (1943), Christian Behaviour (1943), and Beyond Personality (1945).1

In the preface of the book, Lewis, who describes himself as a “very ordinary layman of the Church of England,” warns that he is not going to argue for a particular denomination.

The reader should be warned that I offer no help to anyone who is hesitating between two Christian “denominations.” You will not learn from me whether you ought to become an Anglican, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, or a Roman Catholic…In this book I am not trying to convert anyone to my own position.2

In line with this, he writes that he will be silent on certain disputed matters. He writes his reasons:

In the first place, the questions which divide Christians from one another often involve points of high Theology or even of ecclesiastical history which ought never to be treated except by real experts…And secondly, I think we must admit that the discussion of these disputed points has no tendency at all to bring an outsider into the Christian fold. So long as we write and talk about them we are much more likely to deter him from entering any Christian communion than to draw him into our own. Our divisions should never be discussed except in the presence of those who have already come to believe that there is one God and the Jesus Christ is His only Son. Finally, I got the impression that far more, and more talented, authors were already engaged in such controversial matters than in the defence of what Baxter calls “mere” Christianity. That part of the line where I thought I could serve best to be thinnest. And to it I naturally went.3

Now we know why Lewis calls his book Mere Christianity. By “mere” he means “what it is and was what it was long before I was born and whether I like it or not”4

The book is divided into 4 sections: (1) Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe; (2) What Christians Believe; (3) Christian Behaviour; and (4) Beyond Personality: Of First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity. I shall refrain dealing with each section, for it would take a lot of time discussing; I shall do it in another venue if ever.

I now jump on the things I like about the book. Whenever Lewis is explaining an idea, he is most of the times, if not always, successful in doing so. This is because he uses analogy after analogy in driving his point. Even though the topic is complex, it becomes simple because of the analogies.

The section that I like most is the third one, Christian Behaviour. In this section, also called Book III, Lewis discusses the four “cardinal” virtues (prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude); the three “theological” virtues (faith, hope, and charity); sexual morality and Christian marriage; forgiveness; and the great sin, which is pride. But among these discussions, I like it best when he tackled sexual morality and Christian marriage (I’m thinking of blogging on this in the near future). Book III is simply a section telling Christians how to live; thus the title Christian Behaviour.

One more thing I like about the book. In one of the chapters in Book IV, Lewis writes that theology is practical.5 I have always believed that this is true. Now that Lewis says it in his book, I can’t help but rejoice. Again, theology is practical.

You may have noticed that I didn’t write any criticisms about the book. I have to admit that it was hard for me to locate errors, for I was carried away the deep thoughts of the author. So I’m leaving the critiques to experienced reviewers (Tim Challies has Reading Classics series on the book, and Kevin DeYoung has a warning).

Mere Christianity is a book well-written, rich in deep and provoking thoughts. It’s a classic that should be included in your library of Christian books. It blew my mind away, and I hope it does the same for you. I highly recommend the book to you.

1C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Walker and Company, 1987), v.
2C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, vi-vii.
3C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, vii-viii.
4C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, ix.
5C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 238.


~ by Enzo Cortes on August 2, 2011.

One Response to “Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis”

  1. One of my favorites. Thank you for drawing attention to it once again.

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