One of the clearest and most profound things to listen to over and over again. I always gain new insights from it. He was such an intelligent and very articulate thinker and writer, that his contribution is so very deep. As such, it offers one of the best insights on Christianity, I certainly have ever read.
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1,110 of 1,164 people found the following review helpful
The defense of the faithSept. 11 2002
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In his "Preface to Paradise Lost", Lewis wrote the following: "The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know *what* it is - what it was intended to do and how it was meant to be used. After that has been discovered the temperance reformer may decide that the corkscrew was made for a bad purpose, and the communist may think the same about the cathedral. But such questions come later. The first thing is to understand the object before you: as long as you think the corkscrew was meant for opening tins or the cathedral for entertaining tourists you can say nothing to purpose about them." This is a splendid piece of writing, but the idea presented is no way an original one - Plato and Aristotle said the same, said it clearly, and said it over two thousand years before Lewis did. If you had been able to confront Lewis with this fact, he might have said "Exactly." This brings us to one of the great themes of Lewis's writing, evident nowhere more so than in "Mere Christianity": the defense of traditional wisdom against prejudice of our age that would reject it for no other reason than that it is traditional. Lewis often encountered those who complained that his ideas were old-fashioned, and his standard reply was that theirs would soon be as well, so in that they were equal. I admit I couldn't help but smile at the complaint by one Amazon reviewer that Lewis's ideas on sexuality were "decades old". The complaint is quite mistaken: the ideas are not decades old but thousands of years old. And it is here that we have part of the answer to the problem of understanding the kind of thing "Mere Christianity" is: it is nothing new. It is in fact very, very old. What Lewis is defending is not his own personal belief system, but the Christianity that is the common heritage of mankind. The threat to it comes not from hard-core atheists, who receive the barest of notices from Lewis, but the general modern tendency to subject traditional Christianity to the death of a thousand cuts - discarding one ancient doctrine after another, on grounds often no better than mere chronological snobbery - that modern people aren't supposed to believe that kind of thing anymore This is why Lewis, in what has been often described as the most important defense of Christianity in the twentieth century, spends a mere fifteen pages in arguing for the existence of God. The important task is not to defend a vague theism, which is the position Lewis found from experience that his audience already believed, but to rebuild what little of traditional Christianity modernism has left them - some vague belief in "a higher power", and "some purpose to all of this" into that concrete set of specific beliefs that are the historical core of Christianity. While the defense of historical Christianity is one part of understanding what "Mere Christianity" is, the other part is that it is intended to be accessible to anyone. This requires that Lewis be both clear and brief - a combination brutally difficult to achieve, as any writer who has attempted it will attest. Lewis's success in this can be measured in two ways: first, that his work has indeed found a very wide readership - millions of have read it; second, his work is often recommended by those whose knowledge of traditional Christian theology is broad and deep. The size of the readership attests to the accessibility of the work, and the expert recommendations attest to the accuracy of its message. There is one other thing that is important to note about Lewis's success: Lewis could afford to be brief because what he was explaining was not his own theology, but our common intellectual inheritance. The reader who is dissatisfied with the depth of this or that point in "Mere Christianity" will have no difficulty in finding sources that go into the same thing in much greater detail. Calvin wrote line-by-line commentaries on all of scripture. Thomas Aquinas's "Summa Theologica" is over 6,000 pages long. The collected works of Augustine fill more than 40 volumes. So, to return to the question with which this review began: what kind of thing is "Mere Christianity"? The answer is that it is a brief exposition of traditional Christianity for a modern audience. In the sixty years since it was published, the nature of the modernist challenge to Christianity has not substantially changed, nor has a clearer, more accessible response to that challenge yet been written. Some have complained that the work has "gaps" or that it skims over this or that point, but that is a complaint that fails to understand what kind of thing this is. What they are asking for, whether they know it or not, is a completely different book. Properly evaluated, on the basis of the kind of thing it is, it is trivially easy to give the highest recommendation to "Mere Christianity": it is on a topic of the greatest possible importance and the presentation is outstanding.
217 of 227 people found the following review helpful
A must have for Christian thinkersFeb. 16 2003
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CS Lewis is one of the great modern Christian writers. His writings are non-denominational, and can be appreciated by people of any faith. This box set contains some (though not all!) of his best work. 'Mere Christianity' is a great introduction to Lewis's way of thinking. Originally a series of radio addresses, this work details why Lewis is a Christian, and presents a case for Christianity that is compelling, to say the least. 'The Screwtape Letters' is my personal favorite. It is fiction, written from the unique point of view of a master devil named Screwtape. The master is trying to teach his nephew how to win souls for the devil through temptation. This one will definitely change the way you look at sin. 'The Problem of Pain.' -- what is pain? Well, Lewis tackles this subject here, and argues that God gives us pain because he loves us, and in order to mold us to his will. 'A Grief Observed' is a very intimate work, written after Lewis's wife died. It is, quite simply, a very honest and unique look at grieving, which shows this master Christian apologist, who seems to always have all the answers, vulnerable and without a solution. 'The Great Divorce' is Lewis's 'Divine Comedy.' This is a great look at Heaven and Hell, and presents the very compelling idea that people will go to Hell, not because they are forced to, but because they simply won't tolerate Heaven. 'Miracles' examines the question "can miracles occur?" For Lewis, the answer is yes, and this book shows how the Creator of Nature and mankind can work miracles without interrupting the 'natural' flow of things. Buying these books together in a set is a good way to get these six classics at a great price. This is a wonderful starting point for anyone interested in Christian theology. No one interested in Christian thinker should be without these masterpieces by CS Lewis.
351 of 379 people found the following review helpful
A Great Simplistic View of A Complex SubjectNov. 1 2001
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After reading several books on a similar topic that did nothing but confuse me, I was glad that I came upon C.S. Lewis's work. All of the other books about the existence of God are way off in their own world, and discourage anyone who feels lost in their ideas about God. This book really explained the reasons that God must exist, and then moved on to easily describe the major beliefs of Christians, without leaving anyone out in the cold on what the key issues actually are. This book is perfect for the agnostic, the atheist, and even the Christian that wants to know the logical and simple reasons that C.S. Lewis came to be a Christian. Over and over, his words made me see even the simplest concepts of religion in a completely new light. I was greatly impressed and have already read this book multiple times.
374 of 407 people found the following review helpful
Infinite stars for a book of eternal wisdom!Nov. 20 2000
Rebecca of Amazon
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C. S. Lewis rejects the boundaries that divide Christianity's many denominations. While religious belief is not a concern for some, to many more it is an extremely serious decision, requiring deep thought and the entire energy of the mind.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis leads all the Christian religions to common ground. This book is in fact a defense of the beliefs common to all Christians at all times. Originally, these ideas were contained in three separate books. Prior to 1943 they were only heard as informal radio broadcasts. This is why you will see colloquialisms used and the conversational style of the writing.
When you read C. S. Lewis' work, you can hear his voice. Sometimes I forget I am reading. Like a friend with a cup of coffee in hand, he sits across from us. He then leads us up a ladder of logical thinking. He starts on the lowest step and gives us confidence to climb the next step. He guides us through an incredible thought process to a conclusion, which is perhaps so logical it becomes irrevocable truth.
If you were to fall off a real ladder, your body would simply be obeying the laws of Gravity. He brilliantly explains how there is an eternal Law of Human Nature. This is the law of how mankind "ought" to behave in order to maintain a safe and happy society where everyone plays fair. Unfortunately, we all know how our society has failed to practice this law in all aspects of life.
If you want a definition for this law it can only be "morals." A word from which many reel, as if a light was shining brightly in their eyes. To others: it is a light by which they see the path they walk through life. C. S. Lewis divides morality into three main sections: the actions, reasons behind the actions and why man was created. When you realize that different beliefs about the universe can make us behave differently; you can then make some compelling arguments in favor of Christianity.
C. S. Lewis was an atheist (as was my father once and his writing reminds me of a conversation with my father for some reason, perhaps they came to some of the same conclusions) who later became a Christian. He is perhaps one of the most qualified individuals to discuss a universe at war, for the idea of atheism and Christianity could not be more diametrically opposed.
"Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance." --C. S. Lewis
Like a voice from the grave (he passed away in 1963), C. S. Lewis speaks as if this message was for the year 2000. I read this work 53 years after it was written and the truths are still eternal. Good and Evil are perhaps the oldest concept we know of. I found it interesting when he pointed out that without good, evil would not exist. That good allows evil to occur. For example: selfishness is undesirable, while unselfishness is desirable. The basis for this is founded in some deep religious beliefs. He explains how this all relates to the moral laws of nature.
I enjoyed his discussion of the Theological Virtues (Faith/Hope/Charity) and the Cardinal (pivotal) Virtues (Prudence/Temperance/Justice/Fortitude). His chapter on the issue of "Pride" (the most evil of all vices) also shows how "power" is what pride wants.
"There is nothing that makes a man feel more superior to others as being able to move them about like toy soldiers." --C. S. Lewis
Through this book, you will gain a greater understanding of what holds us all together, what makes us responsible to one another. You may even conclude that those who find morals threatening, may in fact be the largest threat to a civilized society. If we all had morals we would simply have a safer environment to thrive and be happy in. It is simply the way you look at it.
Mere Christianity is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read to date! If you are at all interested in the logical basis for Christianity, this book goes to the depths of thought and reveals the essence of the beliefs behind the beliefs. This book becomes perfume, which completely seduces your soul.
For Christians, it will be a reminder of the truth you hold dear and a reminder of our eternal life. For those who love the Narnia Chronicles, page 146 gives you an insight into the "time factor." (The children in the story can leave the material world and when they return, time never changes.)
One of my favorite quotes from Mere Christianity:
" When it (Christianity) tells you to feed the hungry it does not give you a lesson in cookery." --C. S. Lewis, page 79
On page 87 you will also find a beautiful passage. It is my all-time favorite passage to explain LIFE! It is a must read.
This book will put your brain in gear and send you on a drive to enlightenment. I intend to read every one of Lewis' books. His work is deep, yet understandable. Eternally Recommended.
C. S. Lewis is my all-time favorite author. I was first introduced to his writing as a very young child in second grade. It was then that I fell in love with his writing. Through the Narnia Chronicles, C.S. Lewis weaves the morals and beliefs children need to learn.
I recommend Mere Christianity for non-Christians and Christians. For all children, The Chronicles of Narnia will enlighten them and they will never forget the stories! I also reviewed the set. They are the most magical stories a child can read. Mere Christianity is perhaps the most brilliant explanation for Christian beliefs any adult can read.
~The Rebecca Review
95 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Mere Christianity Explains It AllDec 29 1999
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At the age of 25 I read this book in 1976. In the midst of its pages, I became a Christian. The conversion experience was real, it was exciting, and it was lasting. Now, 23 years later, I consider myself a child of God through the ministry of C.S. Lewis. Charles Colson, former "enforcer" of the Nixon Administration, also became a Christian reading Lewis's Mere Christianity. I recommend it to non-believers, believers, and to outright opponents of the idea that Jesus is Lord. Why? Because Lewis strips away all the silly religious accretions that obscure the true message of this historic person known as Jesus of Nazareth. All of these notions kept me away from the faith for years, and it was exhilirating to confront, via Lewis, the Jesus who actually walked the Earth and who, 25 years ago, changed my life radically and forever. I am a lawyer who knows what evidence will stand up in a court room. Lewis has it. I have been "convicted" by that evidence, by the grace of God.