If the title of this blog post already sounds familiar to you, you are in good company, the company of people who have no idea what we are talking about. It is of consequence to me that I point out that my second book review is by the author for my first one – C.S Lewis. And yes, you guessed right, ‘Mere Christianity’ is the title.
Around the 1960s, a revision of four sets of radio talks by C.S Lewis was made and compiled into what we now enjoy as one book, ‘Mere Christianity’. The book covers a lot, ranging from the moral argument for the existence of God to christian ethics.
At the beginning of the book, he makes a case for theology pointing out that it is a practical need for every christian, and with good reason. Theology is the science of God. One kids themselves in assuming that they have no need for it thereby not seeking knowledge. What they have though is bad theology; there cannot be a space where you have none.
C.S Lewis uses elegant supposals to explain biblical truths and principals in a way I have not seen in many books. I call them supposals because allegories would be nearly blasphemous. At the end of the day, God knows how to explain Himself better than we can ever do. As a manner of example, to explain the fact that God is not bound by time, he supposes that if time was a straight line, then God would be the page in which the line was drawn. In other words, He has and is all eternity. Of course if you think further this example will fall short but that is why it is an example.
His mastery of language is nothing short of astounding, a fact which you may already suspect but does me no harm to point out. In a generation that clothes impatience as value for brevity, nearly every line in the book is tweet-able. Seriously. You could build a whole brand around it. Just sit with the book, apply the use of buffer and schedule 6 months worth of tweets, log out of your account and log in after said time to find a vast number of followers gawking at your intense revelations (Between you and me, they would not really be yours) – tweet this? :-D.
If I had to summarize the whole book in one statement I would need a year to think about it. And then perhaps some of you would argue that I have not completely understood it since I cannot state it briefly. To which I would say, ‘I am about to re-read the book, perhaps thereafter you can ask me’.
In the book, he takes some serious topics by the horns and rides them to exhaustion displaying his mastery of content but even more gloriously the truth that is the gospel. Among these topics are counting the cost, conversion, the new man and sanctification. At the end of the book he points out that only when one has lost themselves can they truly find themselves. The butt of his argument, and I suspect the whole book is that there are no real personalities outside of Christ. Just like no author who keeps bothering about originality will ever be original, in the same way, no one who bothers with finding themselves will. Look for Christ and you will find Him and with Him all else. He pulls his master stroke with that final line, which really is not his.
I could go on and on about this book, but I would spoil it for you because I would point out how he answers the question if Christianity is right, why then aren’t all Christians better than everyone else? or how at the end of the book he uses evolution to explain the new man, then a debate would ensue, and we would miss the point. So that this does not happen, just look for the book, alright?
Is the book relevant to us now?
Are ideas that appeared many decades ago still useful for us today or is the book just a relic, something people claim they read to climb up the social ladder? Will the Kenyan reading this benefit in practical ways?
First of all, this question implies that old is by default irrelevant. Newer ideas are not necessarily better than old ones.
Secondly, the book does not only give a defense for the christian faith, but it moves beyond to areas such as ethics and christian theology and all this without sounding like a dense academic tome. If the history of ideas has taught us anything, it is that regardless of the century, human beings will always face the same questions. After all, nothing is new under the sun. The book explores topics universal to human beings. Why do we behave as we do? What is the source of morality? How then should we live our lives? Does evil exist? If it does, how do we know it is evil? I hope this whets your appetite for reading the book.