It’s been my intention for quite a while to spend time with the writings of C.S. Lewis. Four or five years ago I read nearly half of Mere Christianity, but at the time I was also reading several other books and attending seminary. The mixture of busy-ness made it easy to put this book down half way through.
Lately I’ve read several other authors who, quoting Lewis, have increased my desire to pick up Mere Christianity once again and give it a go. John Piper, whom I respect tremendously, often quotes Lewis; he does so especially in his seminal book, Desiring God. Likewise Tim Keller,whom I also respect, refers to Lewis as a huge influence and quotes from him liberally in The Reason for God. Lastly, Brian McLaren, whom I do not respect (his theology, not the man), also uses Lewis as a source of inspiration in some of his writings. The problem with this of course is that two men whom I greatly admire and agree with, site Lewis as a large influence. Contrariwise McLaren, whom I do not respect, sites Lewis as a reference too. In fact I would say that many of the most-loathsome beliefs that McLaren espouses seem to be founded in the thought of C.S. Lewis.
Watching a recent talk by John Piper about Lewis has helped clear the air for me in many respects. In the talk, which I encourage you to watch, Piper discusses some of the problems with Lewis, but he also discusses the rewards that C.S. Lewis has wrought within his own life.
Mere Christianity was originally delivered as a series of Radio Broadcasts in the 1940’s, only later in 1952, was it developed into a book. As a result, it’s a very approachable read with subjects divided into nice, bite-sized chapters. The book is organized into four separate books each with its own chapters. The books are as follows: Book 1 – Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe, Book 2 – What Christians Believe, Book 3 – Christian Behaviour, Book 4 – Beyond Personality: Or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity. Mere Christianity is essentially part apologetic for Christianity and part explanation of Christianity, and I have to applaud Lewis for doing a good job in his defending and explaining.
Personally, I enjoyed the apologetic in the beginning of the book and the thoughts on the Trinity at the end of the book most thoroughly. The book is a bit slow in the middle. Spiritually speaking, Mere Christianity gave me some interesting ways of thinking about Christianity. In fact Lewis’ greatest contribution may be that he allows readers to see problematic portions of Christianity in a new light through his vivid descriptions.
This book wasn’t life changing for me, but it was definitely a worthwhile read. If nothing else, I see portions of Christianity more clearly than I used to, and I have a bunch of Lewis quotes that will make me sound smart if I use them. The problematic parts of Lewis’ philosophy make this a hard book for me to whole-heartedly recommend (see Piper’s talk). Many will be blessed by its content and some may be led astray. As always we must place the Bible’s revelation of itself ahead of man’s interpretations. Our personal interpretations are subject to the scrutiny of Bible. I’m going to continue to read more of Lewis and see how my opinion develops after delving further.
Piper’s talk – http://theresurgence.com/why-cs-lewis-influenced-john-piper