Mere Christianity in 31 Days
Book One: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe
1. The Law of Human Nature (and) Some Objections
2. The Reality of the Law
3. What Lies Behind the Law
4. We have Cause to be Uneasy
Book Two: What Christians Believe
5. The Rival Conceptions of God
6. The Invasion
7. The Shocking Alternative
8. The Perfect Penitent
9. The Practical Conclusion
Book Three: Christian Behavior
10. The Three Parts of Morality
11. The 'Cardinal Virtues'
12. Social Morality
13. Morality and Psychoanalysis
14. Sexual Morality
15. Christian Marriage
17. The Great Sin
20. Faith (part 1 and part 2)
Book Four: Beyond Personality; or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity
21. Making and Begetting
22. The Three-Personal God
23. Time and Beyond Time
24. Good Infection
25. The Obstinate Toy Soldiers
26. Two Notes
27. Let's Pretend
28. Is Christianity Hard or Easy?
29. Counting the Cost
30. Nice People or New Men
31. The New Men
The chapters are short, only 5-7 pages really. It's not an incredibly lengthy book, 227 pages in my edition. But he says plenty about each topic, and I think a lot of it flew right over my head the first time I read it. It was great though, and I decided to go through it again, but this time I thought I'd do a series on the blog that explores the book and breaks it down chapter by chapter. Since I recently completed a 31 day series of writing, I had it in mind to do something similar with this. There are 33 chapters in the book, so I'm going to combine the first two and the two separate chapters on Faith to make it 31 posts.
So here's a little intro and some information to help you decide if this is something you'd like to read for yourself, but if you're even remotely considering it, I say jump on board!
Context/Purpose of the book:
The foreword explains that the content of the book was actually a series of radio broadcasts that C.S. Lewis did in 1942 during World War II. The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) invited Lewis to speak about the Christian faith to a war-torn country that was being bombarded by 400 planes every night and had lost an entire generation of men just 24 years earlier in World War I. So in an effort to provide some thread of hope and peace and even joy for the listening audience, he sets out to explain and defend the existence of God, the beliefs and behaviors of Christians, and some of the theological concepts of the Bible. Later he took the information from those talks and converted them into book format, and Mere Christianity was born.
He says that the purpose of his book is not to help someone decide between different Christian denominations. He doesn't make distinctions between Catholics or Protestants, Presbyterians or Methodists. Instead the purpose is to explain and defend the general Christian faith and doctrine, to explain 'mere Christianity'. As a former atheist, himself, he approaches the subject with a great deal of rational thought and philosophical reasoning, and he invites the listener/reader to start at the beginning and examine the evidence, to look at what is offered and make an informed decision.
Lewis had his own audience in mind when he shared these messages and wrote Mere Christianity, and I have an intended audience with this blog series on the book as well. These are some of the people I had in mind as I wrote these posts:
- Agnostics (people on the fence or who just don't know if you can know, those not sure of or trying to decide what they believe)
- Atheists (people who are opposed to the existence of God, whether in a militant or just an apathetic way)
- Unbelievers (people who may believe in a God but not necessarily the Christian God)
- Believers (people who believe in the Christian God and have trusted in his Son, Jesus, for salvation of their sins)
- Everyone else: Anyone who wants to know more about Christianity and wants to learn how to defend their own beliefs better (whether Christian or not).
How to Use This Series:
These posts are kind of a Cliff's notes to Mere Christianity. Each post is rather brief since his chapters are already pretty short. My purpose was to kind of summarize and maybe explain in simpler terms what Lewis says about each topic. Ideally, I think these posts are best used to supplement your own reading of the book, but I tried to write them as though they are the primary material. (You can download a free pdf of the entire book by clicking this link if you're interested in having your own copy to read). Use the information to challenge your thinking, to beef up your own defense, to understand more about the Christian faith and know what we believe. Whether you are a believer or unbeliever, I recommend following along (and reading the book) because no matter your position, you ought to have a good explanation for why you believe what you believe.
If You Follow This Series:
Feel free to contact me through the contact form to the right if you have questions or comments you'd rather not make public, or comment at the bottom of the individual posts if you'd like. I welcome criticisms, doubts, questions, disagreements, and concerns. I only ask that we keep it civil and kind. I would also love to hear any insights or personal benefit you gain from reading through the summaries or the book. C.S. Lewis had a brilliant mind, and his skill for writing and teaching is fantastic. You won't regret reading this book, and if you are a believer, I almost would go so far as to say it needs to be on your required book list because it has been that helpful to my walk with Christ. At any rate, happy reading!