Book Review: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Introduction)

I am happy I finally finished this book. It sat on my “currently reading” list in GoodReads for almost a year! There’s something about Lewis’s writing style or way of speaking that I sometimes find difficult to understand. Often he writes very simply and clearly, but at times, especially if the topic becomes very philosophical or deeply theological, he is not very easy to comprehend, especially for someone like me who is still a “newbie” to philosophy and theology. So, I didn’t resume my reading until a few weeks ago.

But I appreciate the book. I didn’t understand it completely, but those things which I did understand, I appreciate. The book is in one sense simple, and in another sense quite profound.

There are so many things in Lewis’s expositions. There are a lot of things we can say about them. But we should at least start with this: Mere Christianity is an apologetic book. It seeks to explain and defend the truth claims shared by the major traditions within Christendom. That is Lewis’s goal. To do this, he uses logic to show that Christianity has a rational basis. Then, he uses analogies to explain and illustrate the basic doctrines of Christianity, like the deity of Jesus and the “tri-Personal” nature of God.

That said, here are my summaries and thoughts for each chapter of the book: (This is a very, very long, and therefore very boring, review. I’m doing this basically for my own benefit because I want to remember my thoughts about the book years from now. I will be posting one chapter a day.)

But first, the outline. The book is divided into four parts or “books”. In Book 1, Lewis argues for the existence of God based on the existence of an objective Moral Law in the universe. In Book 2, he argues that this God behind the Moral Law is actually the Christian God, and He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. In Book 3, he talks about Christian morality. He also discusses the cardinal and theological virtues. Book 4 is all about Christian theology: Lewis discusses God’s nature (He is “three-Personal”, or three Persons in one God; He is timeless, or He transcends Time, etc.) and what His will is for us (What He wants us to do).

Preface

Lewis explains what the book is about as a whole: Mere Christianity is an apologetic book. It aims to explain and defend the beliefs held in common by all Christians, whether they be Protestants, Catholics, or Orthodox.

He gives a good metaphor of Christianity and its different traditions or denominations. It is like a house with several rooms. His goal is to bring the unbeliever into that house. If he is able to at least get him to enter the hall, he would have achieved his goal. Inside the hall, Christians share the belief that God exists and that he has revealed himself in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. But beyond the door of each room, the different denominations have unique doctrines that differ from the other traditions. That requires further investigation, and each person in the hall should be guided by the desire to know the truth, and not merely follow his personal preference or taste.

(Tomorrow, Book 1, Chapter 1…)

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Introduction)

  1. I have just decided to start reading C.S. Lewis again – and I also just had the idea of posting a summary of my understanding as I go along. Not so much as a review, but because I tend to read, read, read, but I’m not always the best at discussing what it is I’ve read. I think getting it down on “paper” will somehow help as an exercise for me. What an impressive site, I’ll have to check out more of your reviews! You’ve got a lot of great categories and authors.

  2. Hi Rebelsprite,

    Thanks for your comment!

    Yeah, you should do it! It’s a great idea to write down your thoughts while you’re reading any non-fiction book. It helps you remember your insights about them. Have you read How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren? They even suggest that you mark and write notes on your book. That way you really interact with the author’s ideas and arguments, and you make the book truly your own.

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