Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

Mere ChristianityMere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished listening to this book early this morning, a little before seven. I could not sleep, and as I lay in the darkness in need of some comfort and company, I thought that I should go ahead and finish it.  I am glad I did. 

I am perhaps a bit biased. I have always liked Lewis, ever since I read The Chronicles of Narnia in high school.  My liking deepened for him when I saw the movie Shadowlands.  Something about his life called to me.  I have since done research on him and his journey from atheism to fervent Christian belief.  I cannot deny how inspiring I find his life.

I started this book years ago, and put it down, not out of disinterest, but because of other priorities at the time. As far as I got, which was not far, I appreciated his methodical, clear approach.  I always intended to finish it.  I actually own two copies, one on my Kindle, and one paperback copy.  When I saw this at the library on audiobook, I decided to listen to it.  That was a good decision.

Mere Christianity is a book on the fundamentals of Christian belief. Its audience is not just Christians, but also non-believers, folks who would like to investigate the faith of Christianity, what it entails, and what it doesn’t.  Although the Bible is the foundation of our beliefs, I think this book does an exceptional job of condensing, or explaining, if you will what Christians espouse. 

I respect Mr. Lewis that he does not pretend to have all the answers.  That he does not deny that there are some things he had not figured out.  Nor does he deny that he struggled with some aspects of being a Christian at times. That is a strong testament to the life of a Christian. We admit that we are flawed folks in need of saving. We admit that we strive to know God and to have God work in us to make us more like him.  That takes a fundamental humility, one that is rewarded time and time again. By breaking down and admitting our brokenness, we become whole by our acceptance of him who made all things. 

There were parts of this book that spoke so intimately to my spirit, that I lifted my hand to praise God. For Mr. Lewis had indeed through the power of the Holy Spirit, put on paper that feeling that I believe all people who are born again in Christ feel and experience.  For that alone, I could easily give this book five stars. However, it has yet more to offer.

I appreciate just as much, how logical Mr. Lewis is in his discussion of Christianity. While many feel that Christians are fools who believe in fairy tales, he shows just how much sense Christianity makes to those who choose to follow it.  While atheism might have appeal for some, there is more appeal to those who choose to follow Christ than deciding to reject God in any form.  He takes it a bit further to explain why some point in between atheism and Christianity  (including other belief systems) won’t work for those who choose to follow Christ. We freely admit we have nothing to lose, looking at the facts, and yes, there are inescapable facts about Jesus Christ, not just found in the Bible, in human history recorded by those who have absolutely no stake in affirming or confirming that miracle of God begotten man who came and died and rose again for the sins of humanity.  He also speaks into the facts about the nature of humanity and what makes us uniquely created to love and to interact with a Creator who became man so that we could have an intimate and real relationship with him.   If we are fools to seek Christ, then why do the laws of human morality and that essential need inside ourselves point to the need for a savior, for fellowship with God?

I won’t say I didn’t struggle with some aspects.  And Lewis does not in any way excuse the fact that he is saying things that are hard to face.  I like that brutal honesty.  Brutal honesty is as much a part of the Christian faith as the comfort is in knowing that while the walk in following Christ is a tough road, we do it not alone, but through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, who lives in us and empowers us to follow him.

This book comes highly recommended by this reader.  It’s not overly long, certainly not bogged down in theological doctrines that won’t make any sense to a person who does not belong to a specific Christian denomination or who isn’t even a Christian. In fact, Mr. Lewis works very hard to use concrete examples that illustrate his points.  His analytical approach makes this profound spiritual message that much more powerful, because he does not seek to play on the reader’s emotional heartstrings or sentimentalities.  As a lover of Christ, he does not seek to turn his message into another one of manipulation (as many view Christianity and the followers of this faith), for it’s far too important for that.  I know that I will read this book again, probably more than once. I would like to come back to it and explore some of the thoughts here. They speak to me, and perhaps will speak to others, regardless of how they currently feel about Christianity.

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