Book Review: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Mere Christianity is a classic Christian apologetic based on a series of talks C. S. Lewis gave on BBC radio from 1941-1944 while Great Britain was embroiled in World War II. Lewis uses logic and approachable language to convey theological concepts common to all Christian religions (rather than focusing on theological differences).

I read Mere Christianity as part of the 2020 Thoughtful Reading Challenge. December’s challenge was to read a book with a religious theme, and Mere Christianity certainly fits this category.

The book is organized by subjects:

  • The law of human nature in regards to right and wrong
  • What Christians believe
  • Christian behavior
  • Beyond personality

I would feel silly reviewing such a classic – plus I don’t think I could do it justice – so instead I’ll share some observations.

  • This is a book that requires your full attention. Lewis uses logic to make his case for the existence of God as well as basic Christian beliefs. In the early chapters, I sometimes felt like I was reading a philosophy text book and when my mind wandered I’d have to re-read the passage.
  • The book has short chapters, each based on one of his radio addresses, which makes the information very digestible.
  • S. Lewis converted to Christianity and really thought about and analyzed Christianity before his conversion. He referred several times to when he was an atheist and tried to argue against Christian beliefs but found his own arguments lacking. I thought that was an interesting perspective.

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  • A Christian apologetic written by a brilliant fantasy writer is a unique thing. Although Lewis used a lot of logic, he also used imaginative analogies to effectively illustrate his points to his less brilliant readers (like me!).
  • For some reason I assumed Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia prior to his radio addresses, but The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe wasn’t published until 1950. If you’re interested, here’s a brief timeline of his life, including when his books were published.
  • For me, personally, this is a “good for you” kind of book, similar how vegetables are good for you. And like vegetables, this might not have been my first choice of books to read but I found myself enjoying Mere Christianity more than I expected. It’s good to enter the new year having exercised my brain and thought about my faith.

How about you? Did you read a book with a religious theme this month? Tell us all about it!

Happy new year!

And don’t forget about the 2021 Thoughtful Reading Challenge. January’s challenge is to read a book published the year you started first grade. Can’t wait to see what everyone chooses!

10 thoughts on “Book Review: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

  1. I read “Mere Christianity” several years ago as part of an ecumenical bible study. Your insights were right on, as always, Michelle! As someone who was born into a faith tradition, I find it interesting to read arguments for Christianity by someone who was not. Glad you enjoyed it, even if it reminded you a bit of broccoli. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Molly! I think it’s fascinating to hear from people that chose a faith rather than being born into it. Although it also makes me feel a little lazy. Broccoli is a good analogy. 🙂

      Like

  2. I too read Mere Christianity. I had heard of the book but really had no idea what it was about or when it was written. When I started reading Mere Christianity, It took me back to college and my Introduction to Philosophy course! After I realized that I would need a little more coffee and a quiet place if I were to get anything out of this book, I really enjoyed reading it. Perhaps what I liked the most about Mere Christianity was that it was not something I would normally pick up. It was out of my reading comfort zone but expanded my horizons and was a perfect end to the 2020 Thoughtful Reading Challenge!

    The concise chapters, as you mentioned Michelle, written to be read on the radio, really made this book a lot easier to digest. They were nice bite-sized insights. Also, Lewis’ limited references to the war made this read all the more interesting. I could envision Mere Christianity being read over the radio during a real time of crisis for Great Britain as well as the world. Would the BBC broadcast something like this today?! I wonder….

    What I have found since I finished this book is that it is a book that has stuck with me. Some books are just reading “candy” as you have written but this one for me wasn’t just a treat – more like the main meal. It was full of nourishment, especially considering the challenges of 2020. One idea that really resonated for me was Lewis’ description of time to God. I had never heard this explanation and to me, it made great sense.

    Finally, my absolute favorite chapter was The Great Sin. In this chapter, Lewis wrote about Pride or Self-Conceit. The opposite of this being, humility. My favorite passage: “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily.”

    Couldn’t we all use a little more humility?!

    I’m really glad I read this book. Mere Christianity helped to further develop my faith and provided a moment of reflection at the end of 2020 for how I want to grow and change in 2021. I’ve clearly got lots of work to do…

    I can’t wait for the 2021 Thoughtful Reading Challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read Mere Christianity many years ago, while on a mission to read more work by C.S. Lewis after seeing the film Shadowlands (do watch, if you haven’t). I might re-read it, as it’s been ages.

    This month, I read How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow by Toni Bernhard. The author, who struggles personally with chronic illness, offers a simple and practical view on Buddhist philosophy for (in my opinion) just about any human being to relate to. I had a lot of take-away notes while reading and am glad I took the time.

    Also: happy new year! May this next one be so much better for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

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