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Review: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Mere ChristianityMere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

C.S. Lewis presents a calm, logical defense of the Christian faith. He addresses several common objections to Christianity with rational, level-headed arguments. He doesn’t promote any specific denomination; his purpose is to introduce mainstream Christianity to atheists and members of other religions.

Lewis says that when you cut through all the doctrinal disagreements, the simple purpose of the church is to draw people to Christ. However, he does say that doctrine and theology are practical and necessary; they serve as the map to our destination (Heaven); it’s not enough to go by spiritual feelings.

Christianity is commonly accused of being old-fashioned and anti-progressive, but Lewis says that becoming a Christian is, in fact, progressive, because it’s returning back to the path of truth:
"We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."
A few other points I liked:

Choose a church based on the truth of its doctrine, not anything superficial like its worship style.
The Devil really exists and acts in our lives.
Jesus must be God or a lunatic; he can’t simply be a good moral teacher.
A Christian isn’t someone who thinks he’s doing everything right; he’s someone who repents and tries to get better each day.
Christians should be so charitable that it hurts; they should give until they can’t afford everything you want for yourself.

Because he’s generally non-confrontational, I was somewhat surprised that Lewis defends the Bible’s teachings about homosexuality being forbidden, and that the husband is the head of the wife in marriage. Lewis unapologetically admits that these views are unpopular, but they are part of God’s law for human relationships. He has an interesting proposal regarding marriage: he wishes there were separate definitions of marriage for the church and state, so that the Christian rules of marriage don’t impinge on those of other faiths, just as Christians wouldn’t want Islamic marriage rules enforced on them.

I disagree with Lewis (and many other Christians) about the interaction between human free will and God’s sovereignty. Lewis says that we can resist God and prevent our own salvation; that free will overpowers God’s will. I believe the Bible teaches that God’s will overcomes all others’ (see Romans 9:13-18).

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