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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Good
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...
Published on July 16 2004 by lshave

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Reviews
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...
Published on July 8 2002 by Molon Labe


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Good, July 16 2004
By 
"lshave" (Syracuse, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, June 8 2004
By 
Richard (VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving and thought-provoking, July 19 2006
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hats off to a legend, as we go back to the basics!, July 17 2004
By 
Wolfe Moffat (Franklinville, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
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!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking guide for those seeking understanding, Dec 19 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversion Experience, Jan. 23 2003
By 
Hinkle Jefferson (Indianapolis, IN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Reviews, July 8 2002
By 
Molon Labe "Molon Labe" (Chesterfield, Missouri United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Merely wonderful..., Feb. 20 2006
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
C.S. Lewis was a rare individual. One of the few non-clerics to be recognised as a theologian by the Anglican church, he put forth the case for Christianity in general in ways that many Christians beyond the Anglican world can accept, and a clear description for non-Christians of what Christian faith and practice should be. Indeed, Lewis says in his introduction that this text (or indeed, hardly any other he produced) will help in deciding between Christian denominations. While he describes himself as a 'very ordinary layman' in the Church of England, he looks to the broader picture of Christianity, particularly for those who have little or no background. The discussion of division points rarely wins a convert, Lewis observed, and so he leaves the issues of ecclesiology and high theology differences to 'experts'. Lewis is of course selling himself short in this regard, but it helps to reinforce his point.
The book looks at beliefs, both from a 'natural' standpoint as well as a scripture/tradition/reason standpoint. Lewis looks both at belief and unbelief - for example, he states that Christians do not have to see other religions of the world as thoroughly wrong; on the other hand, to be an atheist requires (in Lewis' estimation) that one view religions, all religions, as founded on a mistake. Lewis probably surprised his listeners by starting a statement, 'When I was an atheist...' Lewis is a late-comer to Christianity (most Anglicans in England were cradle-Anglicans). Thus Lewis can speak with the authority of one having deliberately chosen and found Christianity, rather than one who by accident of birth never knew any other (although the case can be made that Lewis was certainly raised in a culture dominated by Christendom).
Lewis also looks at practice - here we are not talking about liturgical niceties or even general church-y practices, but rather the broad strokes of Christian practice - issues of morality, forgiveness, charity, hope and faith. Faith actually has two chapters - one in the more common use of system of belief, but the other in a more subtle, spiritual way. Lewis states in the second chapter that should readers get lost, they should just skip the chapter - while many parts of Christianity will be accessible and intelligible to non-Christians, some things cannot be understood from the outside. This is the 'leave it to God' sense of faith, that is in many ways more of a gift or grace from God than a skill to be developed.
Finally, Lewis looks at personality, not just in the sense of our individual personality, but our status as persons and of God's own personality. Lewis' conclusion that there is no true personality apart from God's is somewhat disquieting; Lewis contrasts Christianity with itself in saying that it is both easy and hard at the same time. Lewis looks for the 'new man' to be a creature in complete submission and abandonment to God. This is a turn both easy and difficult.
'Mere Christianity' was originally a series of radio talks, published as three separate books - 'The Case for Christianity', 'Christian Behaviour', and 'Beyond Personality'. This book brings together all three texts. Lewis' style is witty and engaging, the kind of writing that indeed lives to be read aloud. Lewis debates whether or not it was a good idea to leave the oral-language aspects in the written text (given that the tools for emphasis in written language are different); I think the correct choice was made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Merely wonderful..., Feb. 20 2006
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
C.S. Lewis was a rare individual. One of the few non-clerics to be recognised as a theologian by the Anglican church, he put forth the case for Christianity in general in ways that many Christians beyond the Anglican world can accept, and a clear description for non-Christians of what Christian faith and practice should be. Indeed, Lewis says in his introduction that this text (or indeed, hardly any other he produced) will help in deciding between Christian denominations. While he describes himself as a 'very ordinary layman' in the Church of England, he looks to the broader picture of Christianity, particularly for those who have little or no background. The discussion of division points rarely wins a convert, Lewis observed, and so he leaves the issues of ecclesiology and high theology differences to 'experts'. Lewis is of course selling himself short in this regard, but it helps to reinforce his point.
The book looks at beliefs, both from a 'natural' standpoint as well as a scripture/tradition/reason standpoint. Lewis looks both at belief and unbelief - for example, he states that Christians do not have to see other religions of the world as thoroughly wrong; on the other hand, to be an atheist requires (in Lewis' estimation) that one view religions, all religions, as founded on a mistake. Lewis probably surprised his listeners by starting a statement, 'When I was an atheist...' Lewis is a late-comer to Christianity (most Anglicans in England were cradle-Anglicans). Thus Lewis can speak with the authority of one having deliberately chosen and found Christianity, rather than one who by accident of birth never knew any other (although the case can be made that Lewis was certainly raised in a culture dominated by Christendom).
Lewis also looks at practice - here we are not talking about liturgical niceties or even general church-y practices, but rather the broad strokes of Christian practice - issues of morality, forgiveness, charity, hope and faith. Faith actually has two chapters - one in the more common use of system of belief, but the other in a more subtle, spiritual way. Lewis states in the second chapter that should readers get lost, they should just skip the chapter - while many parts of Christianity will be accessible and intelligible to non-Christians, some things cannot be understood from the outside. This is the 'leave it to God' sense of faith, that is in many ways more of a gift or grace from God than a skill to be developed.
Finally, Lewis looks at personality, not just in the sense of our individual personality, but our status as persons and of God's own personality. Lewis' conclusion that there is no true personality apart from God's is somewhat disquieting; Lewis contrasts Christianity with itself in saying that it is both easy and hard at the same time. Lewis looks for the 'new man' to be a creature in complete submission and abandonment to God. This is a turn both easy and difficult.
'Mere Christianity' was originally a series of radio talks, published as three separate books - 'The Case for Christianity', 'Christian Behaviour', and 'Beyond Personality'. This book brings together all three texts. Lewis' style is witty and engaging, the kind of writing that indeed lives to be read aloud. Lewis debates whether or not it was a good idea to leave the oral-language aspects in the written text (given that the tools for emphasis in written language are different); I think the correct choice was made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Merely wonderful..., Feb. 9 2006
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
C.S. Lewis was a rare individual. One of the few non-clerics to be recognised as a theologian by the Anglican church, he put forth the case for Christianity in general in ways that many Christians beyond the Anglican world can accept, and a clear description for non-Christians of what Christian faith and practice should be. Indeed, Lewis says in his introduction that this text (or indeed, hardly any other he produced) will help in deciding between Christian denominations. While he describes himself as a `very ordinary layman' in the Church of England, he looks to the broader picture of Christianity, particularly for those who have little or no background. The discussion of division points rarely wins a convert, Lewis observed, and so he leaves the issues of ecclesiology and high theology differences to `experts'. Lewis is of course selling himself short in this regard, but it helps to reinforce his point.
The book looks at beliefs, both from a `natural' standpoint as well as a scripture/tradition/reason standpoint. Lewis looks both at belief and unbelief - for example, he states that Christians do not have to see other religions of the world as thoroughly wrong; on the other hand, to be an atheist requires (in Lewis' estimation) that one view religions, all religions, as founded on a mistake. Lewis probably surprised his listeners by starting a statement, `When I was an atheist...' Lewis is a late-comer to Christianity (most Anglicans in England were cradle-Anglicans). Thus Lewis can speak with the authority of one having deliberately chosen and found Christianity, rather than one who by accident of birth never knew any other (although the case can be made that Lewis was certainly raised in a culture dominated by Christendom).
Lewis also looks at practice - here we are not talking about liturgical niceties or even general church-y practices, but rather the broad strokes of Christian practice - issues of morality, forgiveness, charity, hope and faith. Faith actually has two chapters - one in the more common use of system of belief, but the other in a more subtle, spiritual way. Lewis states in the second chapter that should readers get lost, they should just skip the chapter - while many parts of Christianity will be accessible and intelligible to non-Christians, some things cannot be understood from the outside. This is the `leave it to God' sense of faith, that is in many ways more of a gift or grace from God than a skill to be developed.
Finally, Lewis looks at personality, not just in the sense of our individual personality, but our status as persons and of God's own personality. Lewis' conclusion that there is no true personality apart from God's is somewhat disquieting; Lewis contrasts Christianity with itself in saying that it is both easy and hard at the same time. Lewis looks for the `new man' to be a creature in complete submission and abandonment to God. This is a turn both easy and difficult.
`Mere Christianity' was originally a series of radio talks, published as three separate books - `The Case for Christianity', `Christian Behaviour', and `Beyond Personality'. This book brings together all three texts. Lewis' style is witty and engaging, the kind of writing that indeed lives to be read aloud. Lewis debates whether or not it was a good idea to leave the oral-language aspects in the written text (given that the tools for emphasis in written language are different); I think the correct choice was made.
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Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Paperback - Jan. 25 2001)
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