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 Word,...
Published on July 16 2004 by lshave
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good writing, but fails to make his case
I feel out of my league critiquing Mr. Lewis. I certainly recognize he is a gifted writer. All I am trying to do is say why, at least for me, he didn't prove his case.
The book is divided into four books, and at this time I'm only intending on commenting on the first two. The reason being that the latter two books are for Christians. The first two are for those that...
Published on Aug. 17 2002 by Paul Doland
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5.0 out of 5 stars Explains the Minimum Case for Repenting and Following Jesus,
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony." -- Hebrews 11:1-2 (NKJV)
Each Christian emphasizes certain elements of faith somewhat differently than many others do. Keenly aware of such differences, many believers aren't clear about what virtually all others accept. Mere Christianity provides that different synthesis in a stylishly written and clear way.
C. S. Lewis also manages to bridge the gap to how non-believers think to create a route from their moral feelings to appreciating the need for repenting of sins and redemption by a Savior. From there, the evidence for Jesus being the Savior is presented.
The explanations are equal parts common sense and caring concern for those who don't yet know the Gospel. Anyone who wants to begin to understand the Christian faith should read this book after becoming familiar with the book of John in the New Testament.
Although I have been sharing my faith for many years, Mere Christianity helped me to appreciate better ways to share what I believe with others so that more may appreciate the road to Salvation.
Praise God for this book!
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Discussion of Christianity,
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)This is a great book for people who are either half or fully convinced about Christianity. But, and I should mention this right away, this book is not meant to convince a non-Christian that Christianity is true. Many other books have been written for this purpose, and if you want to find one then just search for a Christian apologetics book.
This book answers many questions that Christians might ask about their faith, and does so in an easy-to-read format, almost like a novel. The book is written in a very non-technical manner, so almost anyone should be able to understand what Lewis is talking about. Also, there are lots of analogies to help the reader better understand what is being explained.
This book is comprised of four smaller books called 'Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe', 'What Christians Believe', 'Christian Behaviour', and 'Beyond Personality, or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity'.
The first book explores the idea that the concepts of right and wrong are proof that a morally good God exists and loves us. Lewis does a good job of explaining this point, and, as usual, uses lots of analogies and examples. His explanation may not convince an atheist that God exists, but nevertheless it provides food for thought for all readers. Again, if you want to be shown proof of why God exists then you shouldn't be looking for it in this book. Read a book that is dedicated to Christian apologetics instead.
The second book explores the Christian idea of who and what God is, and discusses some aspects of the Christian faith. Some ideas that are discussed are pantheism, dualism, and the nature of the devil.
The third book continues exploring what Christians believe, but does so in a more detailed way. Some concepts that are discussed are morality, sex, marriage, forgiveness, charity, and faith. This is my favorite of the four books because it gives some good reasons for why Christians believe what they do, and it also gave me a better understanding of what the Christian faith is about.
The fourth book is the most abstract of the four, which makes sense considering that it's about the Trinity. This book also talks about what God wants from us and how we can become true Christians. A lot of this book is comprised of Lewis' opinions (rather than commonly accepted facts), but nevertheless it is an excellent read because Lewis has some very interesting and convincing opinions. Lewis' analysis of how we become 'true' Christians was particularly interesting.
Overall I consider this to be a very good book. Lewis is a very intelligent man who has many convincing arguments. I also enjoyed it because Lewis seems to think in the same way as me; many of the ideas that he presented are similar to things I have thought of in the past. Nevertheless, there are a few things about the book that I didn't like. For one thing, it is written in a very old-fashioned way which many young people may not be used to (but, Lewis wrote these books in the 1940's, so that is to be expected). Also, it would have been nice if the first book (which is commonly called 'The Case for Christianity') included other proofs of the Christian God, rather than just dwelling on the origin of morality. Many people are not convinced by this proof, so it would have been a good idea to present other proofs such as miracles, the historical accuracy of the Bible, the origin of the universe pointing towards the existence of a god, etc. The final problem that I have with this book is that some parts are not at all convincing. But, this only applies to about 5% of the book, and perhaps these arguments that I consider weak would be convincing for other people, so this is a pretty insignificant objection.
One final note about this book (and religious books in general). When it comes to religion (or any other controversial topic), many people are extremely biased, emotionally-driven, or narrow-minded. Not all people are like this, but way too many are. If you plan to read this book, or any other book that is about a controversial subject, please do so in an objective, emotionally-neutral, open-minded manner. Doing so will help you figure out what you truly believe.
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing Book,
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)With no starting assumptions or preconceived notions, C.S. Lewis takes his readers through a comprehensive and compelling explanation of what Christians believe and why the Christian faith makes sense. Lewis uses powerful arguments to build to inescapable conclusions about morality, the existence of God and the nature of Jesus Christ. The appeal of Mere Christianity is that it focus on those common elements of Christianity which are believed by all Christian everywhere and steers clear of the peculiarities of the different denominations (hence the title "mere"). This is not a book that you can quickly breeze through. Every sentence, paragraph and chapter is full of deep meaning, and you will want to stop and re-read parts of it frequently.
This is the book that lit the spark of my own ministry. Lewis showed me that it was acceptable to ask the tough questions and that those questions have fulfilling and meaningful answers. Lewis showed me that we don't need to shy away whenever we have doubts, or whenever why want to know why things are the way they are. Asking these questions and finding the answers has significantly strengthened my faith.
4.0 out of 5 stars To be a Christian...,
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)Many people go into this book expecting C.S. Lewis to erect an impenetrable wall of logic around Christianity and its theology. Aside from being impossible, such a feat would be wearisome and pointless. Besides, Lewis is not a theologian or philosopher (something that probably makes the book all the more enjoyable!), but a professor of literature. As such, his genius lies in a causal (yet convincing) discussion of what would otherwise be a group of very complicated ideas.
Some complain that the book begins weakly, for it is here that Lewis attempts a refutation of other theologies and philosophies in order to demonstrate the credibility of Christianity. Of course, we all know (as did Lewis, I am sure) that you cannot substantiate one position on the basis of the refutation of another (when there exist countless positions). But to claim that the book is therefore fallacy-ridden would be misguided because it is quite evident that Lewis was not after rigor. Rather, the book is designed to be a causal discussion of basic Christian principles, morals, and beliefs. And we must remember that it was originally given as a radio address in the early '40s. That being the case, I find the result fairly impressive even today.
So what did I get out of the book? Although interesting, the philosophy is not Lewis' strong point. His real strength comes in showing us the kind of life that Christianity offers, and how that life is so amazingly true on a mythological level. For example, in discussing the idea of repentance Lewis explains: "repentance...is not something God demands of you before He will take you back...it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like." But we need God's help in order to repent, for "no man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good." And when we do try to be good, we find that we are utterly incapable. So we turn to God for help. But how can a God which has never suffered help us in our own suffering? Such a God is too impersonal. And this is where Christianity comes in. We must die to our own pride and independence of God, and God must help us with this metaphorical death. But "we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man." This is the vision of Christianity: we are not alone in our suffering. Theologically, it is difficult to imagine anything more brilliant or true. However, those who look logically and with disdain upon what they perceive to be an elaborate and unlikely substitute for science, pronouncing religion nothing more than superstition, do not see these truths.
4.0 out of 5 stars Response to orpington,
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)As another reviewer pointed out, Christians seem to rate this book highly while atheists and agnostics tend to give it low ratings. Assuming that orpington is not an atheist or agnostic (from his objections that Lewis does not tow the Scripture line as he would demand of such a work), I guess fundamentalists (at least this one in particular) are not impressed with this work from Lewis either. THE BIBLE may say that once a person is saved they are never lost, but Lewis points out that giving our lives to God is a decision, and who among us hasn't seen someone make that decision and then change it?
As for the idea that people could come to Christ from other traditions, I can attest to this myself. I was raised in the Methodist denomination and then pursued the Bahai faith and Buddhism seeking to determine if I really believed in Christianity or followed it merely from conditioning in childhood. Lewis has helped bring me back into the Christian fold, with a much clearer idea of what I believe and why. As Mike Scott of The Waterboys wrote in one of his songs, it's "been a long way to the Light." Who is to judge how we get there, so long as we answer God's call?
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book for either the believer or the non-believer,
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)Lewis makes a solid case for Christianity in this highly readable series of talks he delivered on the BBC. Lewis' common-sense approach, and easy-to-understand analogies catch the reader unawares. One finds him or herself agreeing with Lewis, even when one is unsure what it is one has agreed to.
In Book 1 Lewis makes the case for morality, or what he terms "the law of human nature" written upon men's hearts. In Book 2, he examines the competing conceptions of God and makes the case for Christ. Here he states that all Christian denominations tend to hold 3 things in common - these being baptism, belief (faith), and Holy Communion. In Book 3, he examines the Cardinal virtues, the theological virtues, and the importance of living virtuously. And in Book 4 he leads the reader into the doctrine of the Trinity and what this means for the believer.
An Anglican himself, who avoided speaking of Catholicism, contrary to the direction many have taken this book, Lewis argues against a kind of non-denominationalism. He says that if Christianity is viewed as a hallway inside of a mansion, his job is merely to bring us into the hallway. Which room we enter, he says, is up to us, but he does argue that the worst room is still better than remaining in the hallway.
Readers desiring to learn more about what led to Lewis' conversion to Christianity should read G.K. Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man," as Lewis has said that this book greatly influenced his belief in Christ.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written,
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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are struggling with the big questions in life - this is your book !!,
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)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
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving and thought-provoking,
This review is from: Mere Christianity Unabridged (Audio Cassette)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
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversion Experience,
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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Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Paperback - Jan. 25 2001)
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