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Monday, May 4, 2015
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself? ~ C.S. Lewis
This book is not part of The Quest, but I do read a bit besides novels. This “review” will be quite different than when I am reviewing a novel. It will be shorter for one thing, and second it will not be about how much I enjoyed the book but rather did I find it: valid, accurate, beneficial, relevant, useful?
In a word…Yes! In a second word…Quite!
It is quite different than most books on Christianity. I think the biggest difference is this: it can serve both Christians and non-Christians. I won’t attempt to explain Lewis’ purpose, except with his own words: 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 time.
If you know anything about C.S. Lewis, you probably know that he had a brilliant mind. He does a wonderful job of making the complex ideologies of Christianity simple, and then making the simple things…not complex, but incredibly intricate, nuanced, and profound. I don’t agree with Lewis on every point, but on the simple message that the goal of Christianity…is making little Christ’s out of mortal men, I agree entirely.
Excerpts: I feel compelled to assert these excerpts, although powerful, have lost a good deal of their full force for being taken out of context.
How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.
A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but on that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble – because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out.
He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.
A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat “Do as you would be done by” till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him.
…a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.
But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will…
…it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.
Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness.