You guys! I finally read Mere Christianity! It was on my to-read list and then my currently-reading list for, well, ages, but I finally finished it. Telling you guys that it was the first book on my reading list for this year definitely helped me buckle down and finish it!
I know that a ton of people over the years have given it much better, more thorough reviews than I ever could, but here are my thoughts for whatever they’re worth, along with a few quotes.
First, here is a brief summary from the back of my copy of the book:
One of the most popular and beloved introductions to Christian faith ever written, Mere Christianity has sold millions of copies worldwide. The book brings together Lewis’s legendary broadcast talks of the war years, talks in which he set out simply to “explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity’s many denominations, C. S. Lewis provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear a powerful, rational case for the Christian faith.
I love C.S. Lewis and knew a bit of what I was getting into with Mere Christianity as I’ve read several of his other books. His conversational way of writing makes for easy reading, even when the subject matter is somewhat complicated.
I found Mere Christianity to be both enjoyable and informative, as well as convicting at times. While probably every Christian who reads it could find at least some point or another that they disagree with – I found several – I think that taken as a whole it is a great explanation of some of the most important beliefs of Christianity.
The book is divided into four sub-books, summarized well here by the Mere Christianity Study Guide:
Summarized briefly, Lewis writes that morality is a mystery that gives helpful clues to the meaning of the universe (Book One). Human morality points to a spiritual/religious dimension of life that, among all the possible solutions, is best explained by the Christian understanding of a moral God (Book Two). Our moral nature needs guidelines and, again, Christianity provides the most helpful and satisfying morality on the planet (Book Three). That satisfying answer for our moral hunger is not found in ourselves, but in the only true human capable of complete morality, Jesus Christ (Book Four).
Lewis does an excellent job explaining in simple terms the case, if you will, for Christianity. If you are a Christian I believe you will come away from the book encouraged and with a better understanding of your own faith. If you are not a Christian I think this is a great book to read if you want to learn more, although I would of course direct you to the Bible first and foremost.
If I could take just one thing away after reading the book it’s this quote, one that some of you have probably heard before:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Lewis makes it clear that while Christians may not always agree with each other on everything, such as personal standards, etc., one of the things that is absolutely vital to the Christian faith is the belief that Jesus Christ is God. Take away that belief and you are left with nothing.
The book ends with these words:
Your real, new self… will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making….. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life…. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
If you’ve never read Mere Christianity before I hope this has wet your appetite and that you’ll check it out! If you have read it, what did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
PS – Today I’m linking up with some other bloggers who also love to share book reviews! You can check out their reviews by clicking on the image below.
Thanks for stopping by today!