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  • Writer's picturePayton Tilley

"Mere Christianity" Review

Most of us have read and loved the classic whimsical, also timeless, stories of Narnia. And if you're like me, you have loved them and adore any quotes or writings by C.S. Lewis. Yet, for some odd reason, the classic of his, "Mere Christianty", had never found a viewing with my eyes.


Well, now it has and I can say that I am sorely stupid for having not read it sooner. (You might 'ave mentioned that a bit sooner . . . as Peter said to Edmuncd in the movie, Prince Caspian)


Lewis' first book in "Mere Chrisianity" is titled, Right And Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe. Right then, I found myself drawn into writings on Moral Law. Never had I read it presented so and the fact that he could argue for God's existence without ever laying it on the nose was amazing. Because that is just how it should be introduced, because God is not a seperate thing to be dragged in; He is the thing that drags our world into life. Lewis presented our natural instincts as an argument for how we hae been formed by God and how then, our history has pulled us and taught us humans are crafted seeing good and bad. And because of that, we know one side is right and the other is wrong. Yet, the interesting part is when we decide if we will let Christ into us to begin this process of, as C.S. Lewis put it, "becoming little Christ's."


The process means tearing the walls of self down and lossing our identity. At the end of his book, he states, "But the question is not what we intend ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us." And also Lewis writes, " It is also like that with Christ and us. The more we get what we now call 'ourselves' out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of 'little Christ's', all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. He made them all . . . In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. . . . There are no real personalitites anywhere else. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self . . . How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerers have been: how gloriously different are the saints."


Lewis further stresses, over and over that this turning to Christ, this giving up of ones self, must be real. And afterward, the fight begins to stay vigilant and true to God's word and the life Christ led. He says, " But there must be a real giving up of the self . . . The very first step is to forget about the self altogether. It will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him . . . Lose your life and you will save it. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be reaised from the dead. 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."


This is just barely half a page of the deep thoughts and mind twisting ways of Christianity Lewis paints in this book. I actually started reading this after a secular fiction book made me feel so gross and mushy because it taught me nothing, gave me no empathy for anyone nor evoked emotion besides the kind we get staring at a tv screen. (I'm not used to that with most of my beloved authors.) Yet, "Mere Christianty" had me thinking and pondering and talking to God and thinking of Him in ways I never had before. Simple imagery that suddenly explained parts of humans and our relation to each other and the world. Speaking of, Lewis' comparision between the state of an individual's relation to others and their own soul to a fleet of ships was one I will never forget. I shall not tell you, so if you read it, you too can be so thoroughly satisfied.


What's interesting is that this book is a collection of writings from Lewis but it started out as a radio talk show C.S. Lewis gave afer WWII, which he fought in. He presented it as something that challenged believers and non believers, always laying facts and real life questions before them. Then, he would throw arguments out people gave for not only not believing in Christianity, but things pretaining simply to life. I think that is why this book was so profound to me. He tackled all angles, all sides, and presented the triumph of Christ and the hard road we walk if we so choose to join 'the rebellion of the real King' as he put it.


Real quick, I want to list the contents of this book: (I will highlight the sections that hit me the most one way or another)


BOOK ONE: RIGHT AND WRONG AS A CLUE TO THE MEANING OF THE UNIVERSE

1 THE LAW OF HUMAN NATURE

2 SOME OBJECTIONS

3 THE REALITY OF THE LAW

4 WHAT LIES BEHIND THE LAW

5 WE HAVE CAUSE TO BE UNEASY


BOOK TWO: WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE

1 THE RIVAL CONCEPTIONS OF GOD

2 THE INVASION

3 THE SHOCKING ALTERNATIVE

4 THE PERFECT PENTITENT

5 THE PRACTICAL CONCLUSION


BOOK THREE: CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOUR

1 THE THREE PARTS OF MORALITY

2 THE 'CARDINAL VIRTURES'

3 SOCIAL MORALITY

4 MORALITY AND PSCYHANALYSIS

5 SEXUAL MORALITY

6 CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

7 FORGIVENESS

8 THE GREAT SIN

9 CHARITY

10HOPE

11FAITH

12FAITH


BOOK FOUR: BEYOND PERSONALITY; OR FIRST STEPS IN THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY


1 MAKING AND BEGETTING

2 THE THREE PERSONAL GOD

3 TIME AND BEYOND TIME

4 GOOD INFECTION

5 THE OBSTINATE TOY SOLIDERS

6 TWO NOTES

7 LET'S PRETEND

8 IS CHRISTIANTY HARD OR EASY?

9 COUNTING THE COST

10NICE PEOPLE OR NEW MAN?

11THE NEW MAN


I am well aware that this review is a muddle of my thoughts and then quotes from the book itself. But this barfing of my opinions and the facts of what were told are what Lewis desired from this book, I believe. He wanted to challenge things and retell basic beliefs in new ways. Often, I would be reading parts and then slam the spine and have to think for a minute. And that is a mark of a gift and a true book. While no one is perfection, nor can any book be, I can see how God used this man (just like us) in his time and the times after. (Please look up Lewis' conversion story)


And in conclusion, I am going to share some short quotes that hit me rather hard:


"For Christianity is a fighting religion" ~ C.S. Lewis (M.C.)


"Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes any love or goodness or joy worth having." ~C.S. Lewis (M.C.)


"It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. " ~ C.S. Lewis (M.C.)


"God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." C.S. Lewis (M.C.)

"It is on this love (speaking of Christ) that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it." ~ C.S. Lewis (M.C.)


"To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all He says." ~ C.S. Lewis (M.C.)

"That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means-the only complete realist." ~ C.S. Lewis (M.C.)

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