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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written
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...
Published on June 8 2004 by Richard

versus
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Discussion of Christianity, Jan. 14 2009
By 
Eric Boyer (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing Book, Sept. 30 2007
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.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Merely wonderful, Jan. 31 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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5.0 out of 5 stars An Incendiary Combination of Reason and Faith, March 4 2004
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
"Christ never meant that we were to remain children in *intelligence*: on the contrary. He told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves', but also 'as wise as serpents'...He wants everyone to use what sense they have." This is the description of a rational person's Christianity--this is why I respect C.S. Lewis so highly. Even if he and I may not have *total* agreement (even the agreement we do have is to a shocking degree!), it is clear this is someone who has applied his intellect to the matter of Christianity, carefully constructing his arguments step by step, defining all meanings and explaining their significance. He constantly warns against arrogance (as he also does in The Screwtape Letters) even as he proposes his theories--a caveat that I strongly believe must be taken with the utmost seriousness.
I should warn the potential reader that I may make certain statements that will invite vehement disagreement, particularly in the most conservative quarters. However, I believe they are indicative of the nature of this book--if indeed one takes *extreme* offense to what I write, Mere Christianity is probably *not* the ideal book for that person. Lewis, from my readings, is no fundamentalist; otherwise, I could not imagine him daring to set the following into writing: "Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life [given through Christ] should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know him can be saved through Him." To my mind, and perhaps to others of what I call a moderate persuasion, this statement de-fangs one of the most serious potential arguments against Christianity. For to have a world in which certain people were condemned simply by happenstance of where they were born or when in time would require a capricious God--and such is *not* the God one encounters in the Bible. I respect the opinions of others, of course. However, I do warn very seriously that if statements of this nature are going to give you problems, you ought to look elsewhere in Christian writings.
This is heavy reading--at least, in the sense of the care taken by Lewis in the construction of his arguments. While not a work of philosophy or theology, it does demand the reader's close attention. It is not at all devoid of wit--but do not expect there to be anything sensationalized about it in the way that most "popular" Christian literature on the market today is. To be blunt--expect more. And Lewis will deliver. This is nothing like the sort of thing one finds in the Left Behind series or other works of LaHaye (for which I have a very serious dislike on grounds that I personally believe it has the potential to foster damagingly exclusionary attitudes in its audience...but that is another day's rant, and I'll leave it for now). In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the taste for Lewis' work and the taste for LaHaye's, or works of that nature, would be almost mutually exclusive. This is why I must again warn the reader to make an educated decision as to which type of literature he or she will benefit most from.
To those, especially, on the more liberal end of the spectrum, I should let you know to be prepared for a few antiquated ideas such as certain statements of his about marriage and sexuality--however, Lewis himself in the same chapters does make certain allowances for the change of social mores. Bear this also in mind when he uses terminology for groups of people that, while acceptable in the 1940s, are no longer acceptable. In my opinion this is not sufficient grounds upon which to discount the entire book.
The other reviews may have helped to give you an idea of the book's contents and style--it is my hope that this one will help you to decide if it is *appropriate* for you or not. This is why I call Mere Christianity *incendiary*. I am deadly serious in the use of this word. It will without doubt provoke either extremely passionate agreement or a vehement condemnation. As other reviewers have noted, there is almost no middle ground. With content like this, it is no wonder. And it is a reflection of a very major divide in the Christian community as a whole. I award the five stars because from my experience, if it IS appropriate for you, it will very likely be a most rewarding reading experience. If you know it will not be appropriate for you, however, I will honestly advise you to pass this over in favor of something else.
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4.0 out of 5 stars To be a Christian..., Feb. 23 2004
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Response to orpington, Feb. 21 2004
By 
Richard Magee "Wish Ewe Were Hear" (Abingdon, Maryland USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another of C.S. Lewis' Excellent Books, Feb. 16 2004
By 
This review is from: Mere Christianity (Paperback)
This is a great book for those who want to take their belief in Christ to a higher level. This book is laid out in three parts: Right and Wrong, What Christians Believe, and Christian Behaviour. In the third part--Christian Behaviour--Mr. Lewis eloquently portrays what it means to accept Christ.
Mr. Lewis understood very well the true principle: one of the things that will make heaven indeed heaven is the way people treat each other and deal with each other. Those who accept Christ will find themselves yearning to live as he lived, and do as he did. By doing so, they will ultimately build the kind of character it takes to be "heavenly."
Mr. Lewis also points out some of the characteristics that prevent us from developing such character -- such as pride. "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man." Mr. Lewis points out that pride is one of the many qualities, which (if unbridled) keeps so many people away from true discipleship in Christ. The competitive nature of pride compels us to squander away our limited time on earth in a competitive pursuit of worldly treasures and success, which (for most of us) is at the expense of more important things. And, if my life has been spent without performing the Christ like acts of service and love -- necessary to build "heavenly character," can I actually expect heaven to be a place where I will comfortably fit in?
I highly recommend this book and I find it a valuable addition to my library.
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Mere Christianity
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