BookReview: Mere Christianity
Thebook “Mere Christianity” was written by Clive Staple Lewis andpublished for the first time in 1952. C.S. Lewis is an Irish scholarand writer. He was born in November 1898 in Belfast, Ireland(Attenborough 1). During his childhood, he was enraptured by tales ofgallantry as well as fantastic animals. His mother died when he was10 years old, but he managed to attain pre-college education indifferent boarding schools and from a tutor. He served in themilitary during the World War I, but was sent back home after gettingsome injuries. Although Lewis wrote many books (including Dymer andOut of the Silent Planet), this paper will focus on a review of oneof them, which is the “Mere Christianity”.
Lewisstudied at Oxford University, where he focused on classic philosophyand literature. After graduating, Lewis was awarded a teaching job in1925 at Magdale College (Attenborough 1). During this time, Lewis gotan opportunity to join a group that was known as The Inkling. Thegroup held conversations that allowed Lewis to re-embraceChristianity. He had been disillusioned with faith during his youngage. After embracing Christianity once again, Lewis started writingapologist texts. He used his books as a platform to discuss hisreligious beliefs. He also explained his philosophy and logics.
Apartfrom wring religious books that provided fascinating insights intothe Christian faith, Lewis offered radio broadcasts that resulted inthe conversion of many people into Christianity after listening tohis speeches. In addition, he wrote a children’s book known as theChronicles of Narnia. He used different mythical creatures to explainvarious biblical themes in a way that children could understand.
ThePurpose of the Book
Themain purpose that Lewis intended to achieve in his book is to teachreaders about the importance of understanding the real pillars ofChristianity in order to help them avoid simplifying religion. Theauthor gives an illustration of this idea using people who convinceothers that they are Christians, but they are only interested inplain religion, instead of theology (Attenborough 1). This is a groupof people who are strongly convinced that religion is supposed to besimple and accessible to everyone. However, Lewis argues thatChristians who dislike theology fail to understand that it acts as amap that guide human beings who wish to get the most accurate ideasabout God.
Themain purpose of the book, which is the need for people to understandthe real values of Christianity, is explained using the concept ofmoral rules. In the first two parts of the book, Lewis explains howhuman beings understand the decent behavior that they are supposed toobserve, but they do not do it in reality. Instead, most of them useevents that happen in the universe to conclude that God is mercilessand unfriendly to man (Lewis 21).
Lewisadvices his readers to apply the moral law in order to understand thegoodness of God who is just and fair. Therefore, Christians shouldavoid running away from the real principles of religion and focus onobeying the virtues that form the basis of moral rules. In otherwords, Lewis seeks to convince his readers that there is nodifference between moral rules and Christianity. Both of them advancethe same set of cardinal virtues that are expected to guide humanbehavior (Lewis 44).
Inaddition, Lewis intends to convince Christians that they should avoidinterpreting moral values at their own convenience. They should applythe same moral standards that they use to judge the conduct of othersto assess the morality of their own actions. This purpose is pursuedin the four parts of the book.
of the Book
Lewisbook is divided into four major parts. The first part focused on theuse of the concept of “right and wrong” as a tool to help peopleunderstand the meaning of the universe. The author holds that allhuman beings agree that there is a set of standards or behaviors thatare supposed to be observed by everyone, but people rarely obey them.These standards are collectively referred to as the laws of humannature. Lewis argues that the law of nature is a real thing that wasnot made by man for his own convenience. Lewis describes it asfollows, “a real law, which none of as made, but which we findpressing on us” (16).
Lewisalso addresses the key things that Christians believe in. Lewisargues that individuals who hold a simplified view of Christianitytend to believe in simple things while refusing to find out anduphold the detailed facts of their religion. While advancing thisargument Lewis states, “If there really were a God they are sure Hewould have made "religion" simple, because simplicity is sobeautiful” (p. 26). The author adds that the real Christianity ismore complex than what many people think.
Theauthor also provides a discussion on how Christians are supposed tobehave. Lewis argues that many Christians believe that religion cameto simplify the moral rules. However, the reality is that the NewTestament is a summary and not a simplification of moral laws (Lewis41). People find it hard to align their behaviors with the moralrules because they believe that they limit their capacity to enjoylife.
Whythe Book Conveyed the Overall Message
Theoverall message that Lewis tried to convey is that Christianity isdeeper than modern people seem to take it. This message is clear inthe first part of the book where Lewis states that the law of natureis real and it was put inside human beings by God to guide theirconduct. However, people have failed to obey it, in spite of the factthat they understand the decent behavior that they are supported toadopt. The author uses this concept to argue that Christianity cannotwork for people who do not believe in it. Lewis states, “Ittherefore has nothing to say to people who do not know they have doneanything to repent of and who do not feel that they need anyforgiveness” (p. 22). Therefore, Lewis managed to convey themessage that Christians need to understand that moral law is real.
Thismessage is further emphasized in the second part of the book, whereLewis argues that Christianity is real and reality is odd andcomplex. The author holds that simple minded Christians base theirarguments on the notion that God cannot complicate religion since hehas absolute powers and he would not like to see things happenagainst his will (Lewis 21). However, Lewis addresses this simplisticview of Christianity by arguing that God has absolute powers, but hehas given human beings some authority to do some things on their own.This implies that failure on the part of human beings to obey the lawof nature cannot be used to create doubt about God’s power.
Christiansare guided by the cardinal virtues that are not different from themoral rules. This implies that Jesus did not water down the moralrules that guide human behavior. However, the main role of the NewTestament was to outline the cardinal virtues that need to guidehuman behavior.
PersonalViews of the Book
Inmy view, the main idea that is being propagated by Lewis in his bookis that people hold different opinions about Christianity becausethey want to uphold values that are convenient to them and disregardthose that deny them a chance to have a good time. Their lives areshaped by their understanding of religion and the views that theyhold about it. Those who have a simplistic view of religion use themoral rules to assess the behaviors of others in order to make theirlives more comfortable, which is a self-centered approach toChristianity. On the contrary, those who view religion as a tool toconnect them with God use theology as a map to guide them in theprocess of studying and understanding more details about theircreator.
Ifeel that the key issues discussed in the book are relevant to theclass and modern Christians. This is because what many people believeto be the religion of their choice could be far from the truth andreal theology. For example, there are many Christians who state that“there is a good God in Heaven and everything is all right”(Lewis 26). This group of Christians tends to disregard some of themost important doctrines (such as hell, sin, and redemption) sincethey consider them to be difficult and unnecessary. This makes thebook relevant to modern Christians since it reminds them that theyneed to understand the actual doctrines and concepts that define thereal Christianity, in spite of the fact that they could limit theirhappiness and chances to enjoy life.
Inconclusion, the book authored by Lewis provides a useful insight intothe concept of moral rules. In most cases, this concept is used toguide people in resolving dilemmas or separating the right from whatis considered by the society to be wrong. However, the book explainshow the concept can be applied in Christianity. Lewis indicates howthe New Testament is an interpretation of these moral rules.Therefore, Christianity did not change the traditional moral values.It emphasized on them by encouraging Christians to observe thecardinal virtues that guide human beings in developing decentbehaviors.
Attenborough,R. C.S. Lewis Biography. Bio.2016. Web. March 14, 2017.
Lewis,C. MereChristianity.San Francisco, CA: HarperOne, 2014. Print.