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In the classic Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, the most important writer of the 20th century, explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together. Bringing together Lewis’ legendary broadcast talks during World War II from his three previous books The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality, Mere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith.
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“These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.” (Page 8)
“The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys.” (Page 10)
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (Pages 136–137)
“Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” (Page 39)
“Morality, then, seems to be concerned with three things. Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals. Secondly, with what might be called tidying up or harmonising the things inside each individual. Thirdly, with the general purpose of human life as a whole: what man was made for: what course the whole fleet ought to be on: what tune the conductor of the band wants it to play.” (Page 72)
Of the many topics C. S. Lewis unpacks in Mere Christianity, a few stand out as pivotal to the Christian life and, even today, are topics of debate.
Problem of evil
One topic addresses a common and fair question people have asked throughout millennia: Why does God allow evil in the world? Lewis posits that God created human beings with free will, and the very existence of free will is what makes evil possible.
If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.
However, Lewis doesn't leave such a heavy topic there; readers will also learn why free will alone makes it possible for human beings to love or experience goodness or joy.
More than a "great teacher"
Lewis also argues it's impossible to accept Jesus as a great teacher but not as God incarnate. All must choose: "Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Desire for justice
Readers will also explore how human beings innately desire justice and meaning and how this longing points to the existence of a fair and meaningful God. "A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line," writes Lewis. The idea of justice has to come from somewhere.
They will consider humanity's "longing for more" and how God intentionally made human beings that way—to desire more than this world can give. Of this, Lewis says, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. ... I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death."
Lewis expands on these topics and presents many more timeless truths in his classic work Mere Christianity, sure to evoke a deeper understanding of God—whether a longtime believer or interested skeptic.
As we witness Lewis develop we find that these volumes are working as a kind of unconscious autobiography.
—Books & Culture
C.S. Lewis understood, like few in the past century, just how deeply faith is both imaginative and rational.