Title: Mere Christianity
Author: C. S. Lewis
Rating: 4 of 5
On to the next installment in the “books I read for the C. S. Lewis class I am auditing” series…
This book features an edited/expanded version of a series of radio addresses on “what Christians believe” given by Lewis during World War II. Lewis speaks as a highly educated layman rather than a theologian or clergyman, and the result is both unique and edifying. His goal is to present the core beliefs of Christianity without going into issues related to denominational differences. In doing this he seldom directly quotes the Bible, relying instead on logical and philosophical arguments and clever analogies that nonetheless express biblical truths (most of the time). For some people his style takes some getting used to (it is a bit wordy and rambling), but I find his ability to explain basic truths in an unusual way to be refreshing and helpful. Topics covered include the existence of God, Christian virtues, the nature of true conversion (“the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, ‘You must do this. I can’t.'”), and some heavy-duty theology related to things like the Trinity and how God relates to time.
There was one main issue that bothered me throughout the book (the reason I gave this a rating of 4 instead of 5): Lewis seems to be deliberately imprecise about the relationship between faith and works in salvation. I understand that he is trying to include all forms of Christianity, but I think that clearly defining what it is that truly saves a person is more important than making sure everyone feels included. (I believe that the Bible fairly clearly teaches salvation by faith alone which then inevitably produces good works according to Ephesians 2:8-10 and similar passages)
Overall: a great thought-provoking book that can be either a helpful introduction to what Christians believe or help a Christian look at their faith and practice through new eyes.