K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
May 18, 12

bookshelves: essays, non-fiction, religion
Recommended to K.D. by: Kwesi 章英狮
Read from May 15 to 17, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

My second non-fiction book by C.S.Lewis (1898-1963) and, although I liked A Grief Observed more, I also liked this one.

This book Mere Christianity (published in 1953) was based on the transcript of the BBC radio broadcast that Lewis gave at Oxford during World War II (1941-1944). It was a hit because at that point, Lewis had already published a number of fiction and non-fiction books including Out of the Silent Planet (1938), The Problem of Pain (1940) and The Screwtape Letter (1942). What added to the appeal was that Lewis was an agnostic professor and was only converted back to Christianity (Anglican) at the age of 32 through the influence of the literary group called the "Inklings" where he and fellow Oxford professor and friend, J.R.R.Tolkien were members of.

I found Lewis' narration here a bit wordy and he tended to repeat himself and he used big, vague, inexact words and phrases. Maybe this was because of the fact that this was based on the radio broadcast's transcripts. Being a popular moralist, I also detected some arrogance in his pronouncements as if he knew everything about Christian Faith. An example of this was when he quoted phrases in his book and claimed that those are said by Jesus Christ. I am not a Bible scholar or something but recently I've finished the Holy Bible (Revised Standard Edition) from cover to cover. However, I did not encounter some of the passages that he enclosed in quotation marks ("___") in this book. Those were in quotes so Lewis gave me an impression that those were uttered by Jesus Christ himself. To give you an example, go to Book IV, Chapter 8, Paragraph 3 and this was what he wrote:
The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says "Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think is wicked - the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours."
Although Lewis meant well, quoting Jesus as if his thoughts were His, was like blasphemy to me. This is one problem I have with evangelists who are so popular that fame has already gone up to their blown-up heads. I am not saying that Lewis was swell-headed. All I am saying is that I see those evangelists around (including those in television) who speak like they are the kings of the world or they have special personal covenant with God.

The other two minor points that I also saw (and I am sorry if these appear as nitpicking) were the instance when Lewis referred to homosexuals as perverts and at one point he used the "n" word. I know that these could be acceptable during his time but I just got a bit annoyed when I was reading the book.

However, it is hard to dislike this book or to discount its significance. Lewis made a lot of good points in this essays. For example, he was on-the-dot when he said that most Christians do not need to be taught how to tell whether a thing is right or wrong because they already know. What most Christians need is to be reminded. This book's main purpose seems to be that and in my opinion, it achieved that objective. He also admitted that since he was a bachelor, he felt not in the right position to advice about marriage. So, for me, there were still humility and sincerity in him.

He also gave beautiful examples to illustrate his main points and there were many quotable quotes that you can collect from this book. In fact, as I am fond of dogearing pages with beautiful passages, I think a quarter of the pages are now dogeared and there were those pages that I could not decide whether the dogear should be to the left or to the right because both sides have beautiful passages so I just marked those with a pen. I normally don't mark my books with pen because writing on the book is a discourteous act for me.

My only advice for those who are considering on reading this? Read the Bible first because you might be misled when Lewis talks as if he gets his words directly from the scriptures. A small friendly suggestion.

Thank you to Cary, Kwesi, J.L., Tina and Dante for being my book buddies!
26 likes · Likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Mere Christianity.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Dante Thanks for being my reading buddy, Kuya D! I really appreciated the book, although I didn't understand it 100%.

Regarding the above quote, yeah, it's not found in the Bible. But I don't think Lewis was saying that it is. Not word for word, that is. Not literally. I think Lewis was just expounding on Jesus' message. He was just paraphrasing it, or expressing it in his own words.

I don't think Lewis has anything against homosexuals and blacks. If he did, maybe I missed it. But I didn't get that impression from Mere Christianity.

K.D. Absolutely Dante, thanks. Good that you did not get that. I am really a picky reader.

Christine I've just started Book IV. Lewis is truly persuasive and of course, it got me thinking about how I was drawn away from Christianity by my politicized mind. Having said that, the section on sexual and married life had undertones of stereotyping which I did not like. His pronouncement that the center of Christian morality is not on sexuality is, however, one the CBCP might want to explore.

K.D. Absolutely Christine, I understand. C. S. Lewis is not really "conservative" in some of his views.

back to top