Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mere Christianity

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (yes, another C.S. Lewis book!).  I was originally told to read the book for summer reading (for school), and I though no more of the book than I thought of my other summer reading requirements; however, it took no more than the first few pages for me to become absorbed in the book.  As I have explained to my friends, I truly believe if everyone in the world read only the first two chapters of Mere Christianity, the world would be a better place.

The book is broken down into four "books" (1. Right and Wrong as a Clue to he Meaning of the Universe; 2. What Christians believe; 3. Christian Behavior; 4. Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity).  Lewis writes as though he were speaking directly to the reader, and he writes in a way that would appeal to both Christians and non-Christians who are either exploring Christianity or opposed to Christianity.  He doesn't write as if the persuade the reader but rather to express what he, personally, believes, and he often includes in many of the later chapters that if a specific idea or analogy doesn't help the reader, or is too confusing, to trash it and use whatever does help or makes sense.  One thing I was able to appreciate is the humility with which he wrote.  He didn't express his beliefs as if everything he said was right or as if he was smarter or better than anyone else.  On multiple occasions, he referred to his own sins and said that if anyone noticed any mistakes in his explanations to forgive and correct him because he did not claim to be above anyone else in knowledge.

The book explains many of Christianity's most trying questions and sets people on a path to answering those questions.  It is written in an almost scientific way, diving into deep explanations on how things work.  An atheist once asked me to prove the existence of God, and when I gave him what little evidence I had, he told me it wasn't thorough.  He told me in order to prove God's existence, I would have to start not with God ("If God is real, such-and-such would be true, and it is") but rather start with that which we can physically observe and somehow find God that way ("Because such-and-such is true, God is real").  Though I do not believe anyone should believe in God because of the scientific evidence for Him, I do understand why the atheist wanted evidence and why he wanted in the way he specified.  Most people who have a very logical way of thinking (specifically "math/science people") need things to be explained in a scientific or mathematical sense in order to fully understand it.  I am by no means a math/science person, so explaining this to the atheist (I am calling him "the atheist" not to single him out but because I do not want to use his name so publically), who was a math/science person, was difficult for me.  However, in Mere Christianity, Lewis explains he evidence of God, the beliefs of Christians, how to begin your relationship with Christ, and theology in an orderly and detailed way that appeals to both math/science people and artsy/scatter-brained people (like me) alike.

I am not going to provide a summary for the book for a two reasons.  First, there is so much information in the book that in the time you could read my summary, you might as well have read the book.  Second, Lewis words everything so clearly that I wouldn't be able to reword it and still give it justice (I would have to quote basically the entire book).  Once school starts back up, my teacher may assign an essay much like that I wrote for The Abolition of Man, and if so, I will post that here as well.

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