A Reflection of Mere Christianity: C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Picking up a book by C. S. Lewis other than his fictional series, be it his Space Trilogy of 1945 , or The Narnia Series, was by all intense and purposes rather intimidating. I had heard all about his philosophical genius, his deep thinking apologetics. To say, I was nervous of his books, would be an understatement. So when I received a biography of the famed Mr. C. S. Lewis for my birthday this summer (I enjoy biographies), I was excited to learn more about this man, whom I held in such high esteem. Surprisingly the more I read of “him,” and began learning about the man himself; the more I wanted to read his other writings. So, I decided I would start with “Mere Christianity” as I had seen it referenced so many times. I picked up the book from the Library and about halfway through the preface I was hooked.
What amazing and concise language as well as exquisite word crafting. I can say it no other way. Lewis has a way that slowly and soothingly draws you into his world. He introduces his thoughts as he would introduce a small child to bike riding. With patience, he laid out his premise. With honor, he made sure the reader would be able to follow without feeling as if he was patronizing them.
In reading this book, I was exhilaratingly encouraged to follow wherever he would lead. I was not afraid of his spirituality as I was already put at ease on that score through the many referrals I received to read this man’s words. Greater thinkers, by far, than myself have taken in Lewis’s thoughts and been refreshed by them and spurred on to more responsible reflection. That, is what I have appreciated the most out of his books (yes, I have read 1 or 2 others since then), is the encouragement to “think,” and not just helter skelter thinking, but objectively, responsibly, and with a logical follow through. That has been a theme for me since and oh, how I have enjoyed it.
C.S.Lewis at his desk
Lewis first presented these thoughts for the British BBC radio broadcasts during the years 1942 to 1944. Having himself been in the trenches in WW1 and having served as air raid warden in 1940, Lewis was all too familiar with the horrors of war. He was fully aware of what war does to a person’s psychological well-being. Therefore, when the BBC invited him to “explain to his fellow Britons what Christians believe” he took on the challenge with joy and “because he believed that England, which had come to consider itself part of a “post-Christian” world, had never in fact been told in basic terms what the religion is about” . Right there I thought, yup…I need this book.
From the very first chapter I knew that I had needed something like this for years. Lewis wrote for the “normal” person. He wrote for the person in the street. That is why he is so readable, and why his broadcasts were so popular. People could, and maybe for some, for the very first time, understand what Christianity was, and how a man of his reputation could have decided to put his life under such a system. Lewis shared with his radio audience that “he had been selected for the job because he was not a specialist but “an amateur…and a beginner, not an old hand.”.
It was as if I was continually having electrical shortages in my brain as he would lay out concept after concept and I found I was “getting it .” I have never experienced anything so exciting since first being introduced to the Word of God after being saved. It was glorious. I learned concepts like the moral argument, when the truth of right and wrong is presented like this, it makes one wonder how anybody can refute the existence of a moral giver. Line by line, precept by precept, he laid his thoughts out and I could take it up and fit all the pieces together and dvoila! I had the concept crystal clear before my eyes.
I also appreciated the fact that Lewis did not hide the “nasty parts” of Christianity. The disagreeable parts but explained the simple logic of what complete sense it was for a non-believer to feel uneasy, even highly disagreeable. He went ahead and invited the reader to look at just how we came to some of our own disagreeable objections, like just and unjust. Lewis would use something as simple as, “A man does not call a crooked line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” Wonderful! What a clean thought, yet it took me to places in my musings that I had never been to before. It is really like finally learning the language of a country I have lived in illiterately for 20 years!
My recommendation would be that every new Christian after being taught the basics of Christianity should be encouraged to read this book through in a group or with someone. It would illicit so many interesting and eye opening questions. Yes, I know a “modern world-view” author for a “modern world-view” audience wrote it. But, it still has the viability to reach all manner of folk in our post-modern world today. The very reason I went to Bible College at 51 years old was because I had been a Christian since 1981, and by 2006, I was still not familiar with these basic thoughts and arguments of basic Christian Doctrine. That speaks a sad word for the Christian Church today. We need to bring, not only basic evangelism, but also theology and apologetics back into the common man’s hands. (I know I am on a soapbox now, sorry). However, I believe before anybody can do any kind of community discourse travelling, they need to be versed, and confidently, (living it out of your bones versed), in what they want to share with the neighbouring community or else why bother even going there, as they will just take their confusion with them. We don’t all have to be a “Ravi Zacharias,’” or a “C. S. Lewis,’” but we must all learn to talk the language of the kingdom as our first language before we start learning the language of the kingdom we are sent to, to be ambassadors, and bring them the gift we have to share. How can we give a gift we cannot even explain? That is what Mere Christianity has begun for me. I look forward to the journey ahead.
C. S. Lewis Quote
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