Book Review: “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

It’s book review time again!

I’ve had this book on my “to read” list for quite a while and I finally purchased it about two years ago with a handful of other books by ‘older’ Christian authors: G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” and George MacDonald’s “Unspoken Sermons: Books 1,2 & 3” to name but a couple of others. Now, some books I am able to purchase and read right away. For example, I read books 1 & 2 and got about two chapters into the 3rd book by George MacDonald before I set it down to “rest” a while. I didn’t feel an urgency or need to finish the book, so I’m letting it simmer. I enjoy George MacDonald’s process more than anything. In those books, each chapter or sermon builds upon the next. It’s pretty clever. Granted it was written in the late 1800s and it took me about two or three sermons to really follow how MacDonald put things down on paper, but it is worth the read.

Anyhow, I am getting off track.

Other books, I purchase as a way to make “sure” that I will read it. For example, with both Chesterton and Lewis’s work, I have attempted a few times to read them but the timing seemed off. I wasn’t able to focus on it for one reason or another, or I found another book that peaked my interest at the time, so they sat on my desk with about four or five other books I have on my “to read” list and a handful of others that I had read already. A quick glance at my desk shows everything from Christian literature, to Fantasy, to Military History & Tactics. Finally though, the timing does come. And usually it is when I am “ready” for lack of a better word. Such is the case with this book.

Maybe I’ve written all that to write this: It is alright if you haven’t read what other people have read, especially if you are a Christian. I’ve seen so many times how a book-of-the-month, a book de-jour of some sort will come out and it’s “all the rage”, Pastors craft their sermons around it, “book groups” pop up left and right in church to “make sure” everyone “gets in on this teaching”. And to me, it has always been a turn-off. The message comes across that if you don’t read this book along with every other little sheep in the church building that you are somehow missing God. A chapter or two in my “Sam” story actually cover that so, I’ll step down of my little box.

Back to Lewis!

What I really, really enjoy about C.S. Lewis is his ability to give examples in the form of illustrations. He has a gift at writing word-pictures that help the reader make sense of what he is trying to convey. I’ve read “The Screwtape Letters” and “The Great Divorce” which are cleverly put together and even though they are “story-like”, the word-pictures abound. “Mere Christianity” is brimming full of these word-pictures as he tries to explain basic or “Mere” Christianity.

One of the things I admire about Lewis is his continual refrain in this work that if what he is saying or the illustrations don’t work for the reader or if the book doesn’t work for the reader: drop it and move on. He isn’t selling his wares as the “book-of-the-month”. He isn’t saying or inferring that if you don’t read what he has to say, then you are missing out on some sort of “heavy revelation” from God. He wastes no time with crap like that.

His word-picture/illustrations cover the topics of the Trinity, the New Man and being In Christ, Jesus and his Life, and other “basic” things like that.

The illustration that I caught the most of was something that had been brewing in my mind and heart for quite a while. He continually talks about the believer being a mirror and how that mirror should reflect back to God, the source of its brightness, clarity, etc. About five years ago, when I was driving to and from work on my commute, both in the morning at sunrise and in the evening at sunset I would witness something really cool. Now real quick, I live in a valley and as such, I have great views of mountains to the east stretching north and south and to the south stretching northwest to southeast, and even closer I can see the foothills. Now it is on these foothills, both to the west and to the east that I witnessed this really cool event. At sunrise, I would notice homes out on the foothills in the west looking like they were on fire and at sunset, I would notice the same thing on many homes in the foothills to the east. What was happening was that the homes in the east which had western facing windows and the homes in the west which had eastern facing windows, at certain times, would perfectly reflect the rising or setting sun. Perfectly. This is what caused the light-phenomenon that made them look like they were on fire. It was then that I felt God impress upon me in my thoughts that this was a way that Christians were to reflect God. We weren’t THE source of the light, we were merely reflecting The Source and if we reflected The Source then people would recognize that we were mere reflections and then turn to see where the Light was really coming from.

It might be basic to some, but it is still something that I am working on. And when I read basically the same exact thing in Lewis’ work, it was a great encouragement and confirmation for me. It was an illustration that worked for me.

We (this is a universal “we” for many a church goer) have heard preached many times about letting “our light” shine. How many times though does the Scriptures correct this teaching by showing us that it is not, in fact, “Our” light, but it is the Light of Our Father through us which “shines”?

So a book review turned into a little food for thought. I hope that you got something out of it.

If you haven’t read Lewis’ work, I definitely encourage you to put it on your “to read” list and I hope you do read it sometime.  If it helps, great, if not, no big deal.  If you don’t read it, no worries either.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

    1. Definitely a good read. I’ve read Lewis’s work on “the Four Loves” and his commentary on the Psalms. Both were quite interesting, but I definitely like “Mere” better and love his use of illustration & word-pictures to bring about the idea he is trying to convey. Thanks for stopping by, Kevin! Always appreciated!

      1. Just finished reading The Abolition of Man. Gonna read the Screwtape Letters next (which is a personal favorite of mine)… Right now I’m reading “Family Values” by Robert Lewis, which pretty much reads like my daily internal monologues / rants against society haha

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