Mere Christianity. By C.S. Lewis, a revised edition with a new introduction (by Kathleen Norris). New York: HarperCollins, 2001.Pp xx, 227. Paperback
C.S. Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Ireland and died on November 22, 1963. In 2013 the 50th anniversary of his death, he was honored at Westminster Abbey as one of the outstanding authors and literary greats of the English language. His greatest sellers were the Chronicles of Namia and another is Mere Christianity which continues to inspire new generations everywhere. and reveal him as an outstanding apologist for Christian faith.
C.S. Lewis who was Born in Belfast and baptized as a child in the Anglican Church of Ireland. He left that church and declared himself an atheist as an adolescent. He returned to the Anglican Church of Ireland when he was 32 years old (1930) and died as a Christian on November 22nd, 1963. Fifty years later (2013) he was honored with a memorial in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. Rowan Williams gave the eulogy. He was a friend of J. R.R. Tolkien who influenced his return to the Christian faith and wrote similar literature and showed a like depth of faith.
Mere Christianity sold millions of copies and was translated in many languages and was used by many persons of many denominations for initiation into the Christian faith and to demonstrate the reasonableness of Christian belief, as well as revealed in sacred texts.
Lewis saw himself as called to give new eyes to a new generation after both World Wars, especially the Second, and the need to convert to the Christian faith but not to the battleground which divides Christians but embrace the essentials which they hold in common. In his book he did not refer to himself as a philosopher but a thinker who argued that the essentials of Christianity can be found and embraced by those who are not experts: philosophers or theologians, but by those who are “amateurs, and beginners, not old hands.” He said: “It is a way of life, that challenges us to remember that there are no ordinary people. It is immortals we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.” We must in this way, open ourselves to imaginatively transform our lives in such a way that evil diminishes and good prevails.” He concludes: “How gloriously monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different the saints.”
I would describe the first two parts of Mere Christianity as theodicy –what we can know of God by human reason rather than revelation. Some might call it philosophy or even ethics. The third and final part of Lewis’ work, in his own estimation, is theology.