Christianity 101: A Book Review of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity

This review of Mere Christianity is the third in a series of reviews in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death. The first was a review of The Great Divorce which can be found here. The second was a review of The Abolition of Man which can be found here.

Mere Christianity is perhaps C.S. Lewis’ best-known work of non-fiction. In it, Lewis works from a very vague idea of God, and moves all the way through to a very specific Christian idea of God, giving a very logical, step-by-step argument for the reasonableness of Christianity and its beliefs. Rather than simply repeat Lewis’ argument step-by-step, I just want to highlight a couple of points of interest, and leave it to you to read the whole book.

First, let’s look at the title, Mere Christianity. When we use the word “mere” in contemporary settings, it means something like “small” or “only” or “less-than”. It can sometimes tend to have a negative tone. For Lewis, though, he was using it as a synonym for “simple” or “basic”. In other words, Lewis was setting out to talk about the basics of Christianity. He wasn’t going to debate denominational boundaries. He wasn’t going to debate how Christianity affects politics, or other controversial subjects. The point of Mere Christianity is to layout the foundation for basic Christianity. Lewis tells us this in the Preface, when he says, “Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” In fact, Lewis was so dedicated to this goal that he had a large portion of the manuscript read by clergyman from Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches.

This is important because it reminds us Christians that Continue reading