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by C.S. Lewis
Published by John Lane, 1952
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Recommended by: David R. Beaucage
This is the book that saved* Chuck Colson. Let him tell how:
Perhaps, I thought, it is on [an] intuitive, emotional level that C.S. Lewis approaches God. I opened Mere Christianity and found myself instead face-to-face with an intellect so disciplined, so lucid, so relentlessly logical that I could only be grateful I had never faced him in a court of law. Soon I had covered two pages of yellow paper with pros to my query, "Is there a God?" [Born Again, Chosen Books 1976, p. 121]
It is almost impossible to do justice to Mere Christianity in a review because the nuggets are so thick on the ground and each one is pure gold. Extensive quotation is the only adequate approach. In fact, the real solution is for you to go out and get this book and read it yourself and then read it again.
But one word of warning. There has been a great deal of soft soap talked about God for the last hundred years. That is not what I am offering. You can cut all that out. (p. 34)
This book is an introduction to the essentials of the Christian faith "the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times." A friend rhetorically asked me, "Mere: undiluted (as of wine)?" Yes: no-frills Christianity with the implication that adding extras reduces its strength. Why? Because the extras lead to disunity, contravening Christs prayer for the church "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:21)
Mere Christianity backs up to take a running start, first persuading us that there is Something outside the material world, then that this is God, then the Christian God, then what this implies for our behavior. Finally, it clears up a few mysteries, such as how God hears all our prayers at once. (Answer: "Time" has a radically different meaning for the One Who invented it.) Oh, yes, and the Holy Trinity.
The arguments are cogent, conclusive, and irrefutable (e.g., Jesus was liar, lunatic, or Lord no other options exist.)
So read and believe and love and obey. The angels will have a party in Heaven.
* Of course this is shorthand for "was used by the Holy Spirit to save."
The thing I have most admired about Lewis is his ability to state an argument so clearly that its logic is obvious. Time after time when reading Lewis, I would metaphorically smack my forehead, and say, "Of course! Why didn't I realise this before?" This ability to argue logically was a great help to me when I was in my teens, and was going through a period of serious doubts about my faith. Upon reading Lewis, and especially Mere Christianity, I came to realise that Christianity is not simply a matter of gritting your teeth and believing in the impossible, but a quite logical and reasonable set of beliefs, which fits in with the observations we make of the world. To a young fan of Mr. Spock, the news that I could be a Christian and still logical came as a tremendous relief.
To this day, I re-read Mere Christianity every couple of years, and I strongly recommend it to those who are looking into Christianity, but have intellectual problems with it, for Lewis deals with several alleged arguments against the existence of God, and shows their flaws. I also recommend it to Christians, so they can read it and be assured that opening up their Bibles does not have to mean shutting down their minds. Of all people, the servants of the God of Truth need not fear honest inquiry. Greg Slade (December, 1998)
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