4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2004
There is the story told of a teacher instructing a martial arts class. 2 of the class mates are squaring off. The one boy doesn't have the training as the other does, although he's giving it everything he has. He's pretty much throwing every bit of technique at the advanced student as he can, and yet he still continues to get beat. The teacher finally pulls the less of the 2 students off to the the sides and says, "I know that you are as tough as nails. I know what you know. Perhaps if you went back to the basics, it might not be so difficult." The boys line up and square off. They circle each other. The lesser student finds his opening, BOOM!!! The other kid is sprawled out on the mat.
C.S. Lewis takes us through the basic points, and BOOM!! He floors us with what we thought was just going to be, "Mere Christianity." He wrote this back in the 1940's, yet he used a language that we can all understand, yet you have to take the time to comprehend what he's saying. I looked at this as a complex book on simple issues, and it constantly hit me between the eyes! There are places where you see God in a whole new light. It is like you've never seen it in such a perspective, yet now you find yourself amazed. His illustrations are very simple, yet sometimes you might want to read it again to get the full understanding of what he is saying. Then read it again, and smile, and praise God for this wonderful work! People have labeled this as "The most important book next to the Word of God." It just might be. And it is just the beginning.
C.S. Lewis used to be an atheist, and when he gave his talent to God, he became one of the most influencial writers that Christianity has ever seen! Folks, this is what happens when people might say, "God can't use that." And then God looks at what appears to be impossible and says, "Let's see what I can do!" Did people back then think that a former atheist could pull something like this off? This is just 1 of many wonderful works that Lewis has accomplished for the Kingdom of God! And it is so beautiful. Hats off to a legend!!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2004
Lewis was a master of language. This book is written in a style that is both easy to read and beautifully constructed. He was Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge, and his works are widely recognised as masterpieces of literature.
In the book, his description and characterisation of mainstream Christianity is thorough. He covers the faith at a basic level, but it is more comprehensive and comprehensible than most non-Christians and even many Christians have ever heard before. This book taught me a lot about mainstream Christianity, not in a dogmatic sense, but in a spiritual sense. Too many authors rely on discussion of theology and dogma; Lewis covers the spiritual, and this is what sets his book apart.
His coverage of the faith is non-denominational, and he deals with the subject in a frank, conversational manner. It is an extremely easy read, but at the same time both interesting and involving.
With that said, many of his arguments lack force. While his apologetics make use of many good analogies, his logic will be unconvincing to most non-believers.
On a side note, Lewis died on the same day as Aldous Huxley and JFK. Funny how life works!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2007
CS Lewis outlines the basics of Christianity with great understanding both on a spiritual and intellectual level. As an English literature professor at Oxford University in the UK, he converted to Christianity in his 30s after much contemplation and struggle.
He discovered the rich depths of faith that can only be uncovered by those courageous enough to honestly look at the scriptures and see who Jesus really was. He walks the reader through this journey.
He argues that meaning in this life must certainly exist. God must certainly exist. He also points out that there are far too many questions unanswered by the atheists and Lewis demands an answer. His reasoning is sharp and flawless. He understanding of the issues is as relevant today as when he first put pen to page.
He is a delight to read; he is pure genius. You will find few authors with such a keen mind and a gift for clarity. Lewis does not waste a word.
He addresses critical questions with profoundly sound logic. This book is a landmark in exploring the Christian faith through intelligent thought. I recommend it highly !!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In the foreword it is explained that this book is not one of philosophical musings but a work of oral literature addressed to a people at war. It was originally broadcast by the BBC from 1942 to 1944, hence the gripping metaphors like the image of the earth as enemy-occupied territory. Mere Christianity is a book of plain but moving language.
In Book One: Right and Wrong As a Clue To the Meaning Of The Universe, Lewis looks at the law of human nature (inherent knowledge of right and wrong), certain objections, the reality of the law and that which lies behind the law. Here he discusses the materialist, the life-force and the religious views of life.
Book Two is a discussion on what Christians believe, in terms of the aforementioned occupied territory, a coming invasion, the penitent, and the practical conclusion. This section also deals with pantheism, dualism, free will, the divinity of Christ and God's intentions with the world.
Book Three investigates Christian behaviour, in terms of the cardinal virtues, social and personal morality, morality and psychology, marriage, forgiveness, the great sin (narcissistic pride; in this regard, please also read People Of The Lie by M Scott Peck), and what charity, hope and faith really mean.
Book 4 is a captivating explanation of the doctrine of the trinity. I found this part very interesting and sometimes deeply moving. Lewis speculates on the nature of time, the nature of man and the nature of God, as the Father the source, the Son an emanation of the source and the Holy Spirit as the spirit of love between Father and Son. Lewis explains what he thinks is the process whereby the individual receives a higher nature. This change in consciousness (infusion of the Holy Spirit) leads to a transcendence of the mortal nature by transforming the individual into a child of the divine.
He argues convincingly for personalities in God and God as the ultimate personality. I found this very illuminating, also in light of having recently read the books by Deborah Whitehouse and Alan Anderson on Process New Thought, especially their view of the personhood of God and panentheism as it emerges from the work of Alfred North Whitehead.
Mere Christianity is a most memorable work that expresses ideas that are relevant to our times. It is a very refreshing expression of a personal Christian belief system that could serve as a strong antidote to the dictatorship of dogma or the staid boredom often associated with 20th century religion in the West. Deeply illuminating, I am sure Lewis' words make many people reconsider many ideas that they had taken for granted.
I am not sure how close Lewis came to the truth in every respect, but much in his vision is inspiring, noble and infused with a sense of logic and common sense. Lewis' writing has an uplifting effect on the spirit. I recommend Mere Christianity to all people of faith and those in search of meaning. One might not ultimately agree with everything, but the ideas expressed here certainly make you think.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 1996
Who is God? How do I come to know Him? Are we God's descendants?
These questions are but a few of the questions that C.S. Lewis addresses in "Mere Christianity". This book contains short chapters that can be read in under 10 minutes. However, Lewis has managed to zero in on the question and explore it in such detail that no one can walk away without fully understanding the issues and his position on them.
Lewis relies not on quoting scripture to illustrate the core principles of his beliefs, but rather on logic and the observation of humanity.
"Mere Christianity" is highly recommended for both the Christian searching to answer questions about his faith and the non-Christian who is wondering what all the fuss is about.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2003
I was an atheist who wanted to know how intelligent people (like Lewis) could believe. Lewis' Mere Christianity is at once elegant and simple, a foundation for a rational belief in God that does not require acceptance of any particular religion -- thus, one can progress in any direction from its premises. It has the additional advantage of being divided into short, highly readable chapters so that the reader can spend fifteen minutes before bedtime digesting the ideas in each chapter at an unhurried pace. Lewis' ability to capture absolutely stunning concepts through everyday analogies really helps someone not trained in reading philosophy to follow his arguments.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2004
This book was not written in an attempt to convince the staunch non-believer. It was written for those who believe and those who doubt their non-belief. I felt that his opening chapters regarding the moral argument presented a strong point in a weak way.
Lewis used very little scripture in this book, but I do not see that as a weakness. If Christ genuinely is the Word, then his message should make perfect sense even apart from the written word.
One of the things Lewis demonstrated very well was the fact that if you look at man's dilemma as being fallen, and consider how he came to be in this dilemma, then the solution that Christianity offers makes perfect sense.
The concept of the trinity is also covered very well.
Finally, the chapter on God and Time sheds light on a few misconceptions about God's nature, and introduces a number of different ways of thinking about time that make it easier to see how God can hear everyone's prayers, or how the fact that God knows my future doesn't mean that I have no choice over the matter.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2002
Judging from earlier reviews, you'll either love this one or you'll hate it. A quick scan of the ratings reveals that Christians love it while agnostics and atheists pan it. From 129 ratings out there, only four readers provided on-the-fence "3 star" reviews. By joining this lonely (objective?) crowd, I'm hoping to convince myself that writing review number 130 is not purely an exercise in conceit but can provide a different perspective on the work.
First, let's recognize that this book is really a combination of three prior, separate essays comprising two distinct topics. These topics are an apologetic of the Christian faith and a high-level review of fundamental Christian beliefs held across denominations. Those who offer blanket criticism appear to miss this distinction and view the entire work as an apologetic. In my view, these distinct components differ sharply in intent and quality and therefore deserve separate reviews.
As to the common threads throughout the work, they are largely positive. Readers of other Lewis works will be familiar with his wonderful ability to write in clear, concise, conversational prose and these gifts are on display throughout the book. His capacity for using metaphors and analogies if rightfully renowned and is particularly helpful in explaining complex beliefs and doctrine.
Unfortunately, the pure apologetic section of the work falls far short of it's target of providing a rational justification for the faith. Lewis attempts to structure logical deductive and inductive reasoning arguments to support his conclusion that there is a single God and that Jesus was his only Son. Surprisingly for one of Lewis' obvious intellect, his logic if rife with serious flaws. Two quick examples are symptomatic. First, Lewis states that "Reality is something you could not have guessed. This is one of the reason's I believe in Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed." What he means is that the world is complex and therefore a religion that accurately explains the world must be complex. Thus, because Christianity is complex, it accurately explains the world. This logic leaves seekers of religion free to accept any "complicated" belief system (in fact, the more complicated the better). Second, Lewis argues that Jesus must be the Son of God because the Bible makes it clear that he was "neither a lunatic nor a fiend" and that he must be either a lunatic/fiend or the Son of God. In addition to several deductive logic holes, the argument faces an obvious circularity problem (i.e. one believes what the New Testament says because Jesus is the Son of God and one believes He is the Son of God because of the Bible's description of his life). These and other similar examples of poor logic lead me to give a "2 star" rating to this section of the work.
For all the issues with Lewis' apologetic efforts, his attempt to provide an easily understandable, concise summary of the major cross-denominational Christian beliefs is outstanding. One can take issue with the lack of depth and breadth of coverage, but only if one does not clearly understand Lewis' objectives. His discussion of the cardinal virtues, the sin of pride and the trinity are among the most clearly articulated explanations I have seen. While the passage of time has exposed several of his points (e.g. the Christian wife's obligation to "obey" her husband) as no longer falling within the common Christian belief set, on the whole he clearly succeeds in his goals. Thus, I give a "4 star" rating to this section of the work.
The 2 and 4 stars equate to an overall 3 star rating. C.S. Lewis fans should read the book for an interesting perspective on his personal beliefs. Those looking for a clear explanation of those common beliefs that Christians hold dear would get great value from the work. Those looking for a compelling, rational defense of the faith would be better served looking elsewhere.
on August 1, 2015
#Bookreview: #MereChristianity by #CSLewis Part one of three Considered by many Christians to be a classic of modern apologetics, the influence of Mere Christianity certainly seems to be ubiquitous in the field since the latter half of the 20th century. Ideas presented in the text,such as Lewis’ trilemna, are now standards of apologetic rhetoric, and the claim that most apologists were once “atheists” has become a farcical canard continually trotted ever since. On the whole, the work is one of the more pleasant apologetic books to read. CS Lewis has a legendary grasp on language and maintains a very personable tone throughout the book. Structurally the book has been split thematically into four sections, which are essentially the moral argument, Christian beliefs, Christian morals, and theology. As an atheist it is primarily the first section that interests me, as the moral argument is often presented as one of the rational proofs for God. In fact this idea underpins the whole work, since Lewis works off of the assumption of its validity as the basis of many of his other points. The problem, which I will explain in my second post, is that I do not find the moral argument convincing, which means that I do not find many of Lewis ideas very good either. This is not to say that I completely reject every idea that Lewis brings to the table, only that I do not accept his attempt to unify all understanding under the axiom of Christian theology. At times this can mean that I find his points either shallow or convoluted, but I will grant him two things: 1) Theology is a somewhat internal mater that cannot have the same meaning to an outsider who does not accept its central axioms 2) we are all allowed our vitriol, so long as it is not dangerous. For all his cleaver metaphors and linguistic flourishes, it feels like he is expanding upon a literary construct rather than demonstrating a truth. In fact, Lewis does not provide any substantive evidence and often handles counter arguments poorly. For example, he claims that as an atheist his argument against God was that the universe was unjust, but that this demonstrates a standard of justice and God must be this standard. This is simply fallacious thinking. The universe simply “is”, it has no distinct moral character. It does not correct or punish. Morality as I will attempt to show latter is a description of the interaction between minds and actors. This leaves me with the feeling that rather than attempting to provide a case to non believers he is actually trying to rally and encourage those people who already agree with him by providing easy intuitive answers. The other problem with the work, like many other apologetic works, is the attempt to create forced questions by misleading the reader with either/or scenarios. For example the trilemna does not prohibit you from accepting Christ as a great moral teacher, as even a liar or a madman is not prohibited from the truth and a wise conman or occasionally lucid madman are still more likely than the supernatural. In summary, I found Lewis’ writing style compelling and many of his analogies were quiet ingenious in explaining his view of Christian theology; however, I believe he fails to ensure the validity of his axioms before he begins building his case for Christianity. It is easy to see why Mere Christianity has earned a place in modern apologetics, but for those of us who haven’t already accepted its core premises it is simply not a convincing thesis.
on March 26, 2015
What a great book. Not an easy read but very worthwhile. Reading was like talking to an old friend. Most of the things he talks about is still relevant in today's world. If you're looking for a book that has all the answers about the Christian faith this book is not for you;that however is what I liked about it. He gives you to it straight,deciding to be a Christian is not an easy path.
It also has one of my all time favourite quotes:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
It really captures the essence of Christianity,either accept Jesus for who he is the son of God or don't believe in him at all. Those are your two options.
Even though there have been thousands of apologetic books written (and I'm not knocking them as there are some great ones out there) this is my #1. It presents Christian theology is a straight forward way,it does not get weighed down by denominations. It's changeling but most definitely worth a read.
As C.S Lewis writes “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” I could not say it better myself.