September 16, 2011

Book Review: Mere Christianity

Since it's "back to school" month, I got to finish up some books of this summer, and there's a giveaway going on, I'll share some book reviews in the next couple of posts.  I will begin with

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

I must confess, first, how much I love old British writers, particularly theologians.  Lewis was not a theologian by trade, but he was a master of the English language and of analogy.  He became a Christian quite late in life, after years of atheism.  Mere Christianity was given as a series of radio talks during the Second World War, when many were asking questions about faith, right, and wrong, as their sons, fathers, husbands, and friends were sent off to war ... and many did not return home.  Later the talks were converted into book format.

This book is a treasure for a Christian.  In addition to introducing me to new idea or challenging my understanding, Lewis put together some things for me that were previously either confusing or just not quite sorted out in my brain.  For example, as I grow in the faith and am a person who is interested in learning more about doctrine and theology, I've thought to myself, "Oh there's just so much, how can I present the gospel to someone when there's so much to explain and understand all at once?!"  In one of the chapters (and I can't find it now, so you'll have to read for yourself!), he draws the analogy of early faith being like man - long before he knew anything about the workings of vitamins, minerals, and calories - knowing that when he was hungry or feeling faint, a good meal made him feel better.  When we begin to see our problem is sin and that Jesus is the Savior, we believe - all without an in-depth understanding of all of Christian Theology.  Learning that Theology (as learning how it is that food makes a hungry you feel better) as you grow in your faith enhances it, deepens and enriches it, but it doesn't change the basic fact that then you look to Jesus, repent and believe, your sins are forgiven.  That meal still satisfies.  I can certainly share that truth quite simply.

For my little brain, Lewis' simple analogies aided my understanding and, in that case, helped me to breathe a sigh of relief!  God gifted this man with the ability to take the profound and make it such that even little children, like this 32-year-old one, might comprehend.

There are not many Scripture references in this book, which could be considered an asset or a defect, depending upon where you're coming from.  For the 'Christianity investigator,' I believe it is an asset - because he would not be distracted by too many references.  For me, as a "slightly further on" believer, it caused me to open my Bible and look for things now and then, a good practice. But if you're looking for lots of references, you'll be disappointed.  If you have a friend who's looking for a lays-it-all-out kind of book about Christianity, this would be perfect.  Though, I'm not sure it is a great book for someone who's clearly not interested, no matter how much you want them to be.  Keep praying!  And read this yourself so you know if and when you should hand it to someone.

I can imagine reading this book regularly for three reasons:
  1. the edification of my own faith,
  2. to keep simple apologetics fresh in my mind, and
  3. there's too much to "get" in just one read.

We're off for a weekend with family at at wedding in Illinois, my mom's homeland and my birth state.  I hope you all have weekends that restore and refresh!

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