Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis


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Table of Contents
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
2001 Reissue - Paperback
(First Edition - 1952)

Preface

BOOK I
RIGHT AND WRONG AS A CLUE TO THE MEANING OF THE UNIVERSE

The Law of Human Nature
Some Objections
The Reality of the Law
What Lies Behind the Law
We Have Cause to Be Uneasy

BOOK II
WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE

The Rival Conceptions of God
The Invasion
The Shocking Alternative
The Perfect Penitent
The Practical Conclusion

BOOK III
CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOUR

The Three Parts of Morality
The "Cardinal Virtues"
Social Morality
Morality and Psychoanalysis
Sexual Morality
Christian Marriage
Forgiveness
The Great Sin
Charity
Hope
Faith

BOOK IV
BEYOND PERSONALITY : OR FIRST STEPS IN THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

Making and Begetting
The Three-Personal God
Time and Beyond Time
Good Infection
The Obstinate Toy Soldiers
Two Notes
Let's Pretend
Is Christianity Hard or Easy?
Counting the Cost
Nice People or New Men
The New Men




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Book Review by
Stacey Bianco
Reprinted with permission
from the Lifespirit
web site at
http://www.angelfire.com/fl5/lifespirit/

Right from the start, C.S. Lewis practically proves the existance of God. By putting a microscope to the unwritten rules of society, looking beyond our sense of right and wrong, we find a true instinctual recognition of "good" and "evil", in their most primal form. And if this is so, then there must be a higher morality that we are all aware of, even before our birth.

He then goes on to make a fabulous argument for the belief system of Christianity which, aside from the names of the "characters", isn't a far cry from other religions. The main theme : do good, love each other.

My problem with this book, is when Lewis gets down to the specifics of the religion itself, and "narrow-minds" man's supernatural instinct of morality into something more social, cultural, and personal. Even after his brilliant debate for the sovereignty of Christianity, which caused me to think twice, even three times, about my own beliefs, I simply cannot bring myself to agree with all of his opinions.

Although I had to re-read several segments with a dictionary nearby, just to be sure I fully understood his points, just reading this book, due to it's deep philosophy and interesting use of language, made me feel quite intelligent. I recommend this book to people of all faiths, whether you're deeply set or just beginning to find your path, Don't allow yourself to be swayed if you don't feel so inspired - continue with what feels right for your own life - but keep your mind open. At worst, it'll give you new things to think about, and there's never a harm in that.

© 2002 Stacey Bianco   --   Lifespirit



Book Description from the Publisher

One of the most popular and beloved introductions to Christian faith ever written, Mere Christianity has sold millions of copies worldwide. The book brings together Lewis's legendary broadcast talks of the war years, talks in which he set out simply to "explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times." Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity's many denominations, C.S. Lewis provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear a powerful, rational case for Christian faith. It is a collection of scintillating brilliance that remains strikingly fresh for the modern reader and at the same time confirms C.S. Lewis's reputation as one of the leading writers and thinkers of our age.



The following is an excerpt from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Reprinted with the permission of Harper San Francisco,
the publisher of     Paperback       Hardcover   and     Audio Book on Tape   Editions

Chapter One
The Law of Human Nature

Every one has heard people quarrelling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. They say things like this:

'How'd you like it if anyone did the same to you?' -- 'That's my seat, I was there first' -- 'Leave him alone, he isn't doing you any harm' -- 'Why should you shove in first?' -- 'Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine' -- 'Come on, you promised.' People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.

Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man's behaviour does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behaviour which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies : 'To hell with your standard.' Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise. It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behaviour or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.

Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. Nowadays, when we talk of the 'laws of nature' we usually mean things like gravitation, or heredity, or the laws of chemistry. But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong 'the Law of Nature', they really meant the Law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation, and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law-with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obey the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it.

We may put this in another way. Each man is at every moment subjected to several different sets of law but there is only one of these which he is free to disobey. As a body, he is subjected to gravitation and cannot disobey it; if you leave him unsupported in mid-air, he has no more choice about falling than a stone has. As an organism, he is subjected to various biological laws which he cannot disobey any more than an animal can. That is, he cannot disobey those laws which he shares with other things; but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law he does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the one he can disobey if he chooses.

This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that every one knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it. They did not mean, of course, that you might not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who are colour-blind or have no ear for a tune. But taking the race as a whole, they thought that the human idea of decent behaviour was obvious to every one. And I believe they were right. If they were not, then all the things we said about the war were nonsense. What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom knew as well as we did and ought to have practised? If they had had no notion of what we mean by right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than for the colour of their hair.

I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities. But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to-whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or every one. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.

© February 5, 2001 by Harper San Francisco

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